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GRANITE CITY, Ill. – On the Southwestern Illinois College Granite City campus, the sky is the limit on what they can create in their industrial tech center.

“Aluminum, steel, you can make things out of titanium…basically any type of material,” said Bryce Griggs, a first-year student. “You can cut carbon fiber with it.”

Thanks to a new grant from Illinois, Belleville will be getting a new state-of-the-art facility.

“We received word we’re getting a 7.5 million academy manufacturing grant,” said Brad Sparks, SWIC Dean of Technical Education & Workforce Development. “The academy will be located on our Belleville campus and the first phase of it is going to be precision machining technology.”

SWIC will break ground for the 7.5 million-square-foot manufacturing academy later this year, with plans to open in 2022.

“This is mobile CNC lab we’ve put together over the last six months,” Griggs said. “This is to take to different high schools and events and show off what we do here at SWIC.”

This industrial tech center at SWIC’s Sam Wolf Campus has already won awards for their work on taking a block of aluminum and crafting it into a component.

Whether it’s using their high precision five-axis machining centers or their field trailer, the SWIC students are already ahead of the game when it comes to machining.

“Anything you dream of usually starts with a machinist,” said Mark Bosworth, SWIC industrial technology coordinator. “It can be from tractors to cars to water bottles.”

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced last Wednesday SWIC and Heartland Community College as the only two junior colleges statewide to share in the $15 million.

“It’s very high demand right now,” Bosworth said. “We’re getting calls probably three or four a week from companies that want to hire our students. I just got off the phone with someone. It’s a daily occurrence. We don’t have enough students to fill the needs of this industry.”