To create “a talent pipeline to replace the workers that are currently retiring…in the highly technical
field of manufacturing,” the McHenry County College Board voted 5-2 at its Thursday Board meeting to approve over $2.3 million in remodeling and construction of new space.
A last-minute alternative was brought up by newly-elected Trustee Tom Wilbeck as a result of his and Board President Ron Parrish’s three-hour visit with Vince Foglia and Vince Foglia, Jr., at their Sage Products plant in Cary.
Referring to the cost of President Vicky Smith’s proposal, Wilbeck observed, “It’s growing by the presentation.”
Wilbeck argued that “more of a conversation with the end users was needed.”
Talking with the Foglias led Wilbeck to the knowledge that “the robots have to be torn down and rebuilt every year” and that “the software is done remotely.”
“They claim to be the largest robotics user in the county [with] thirty-four technicians and need more,” Parish said.
He conveyed an offer for the college to run the robotics program in space at Sage.
They would “help us teach [students and allow them to] learn to apply in a broader context than we could do on our own.”
In addition, the Foglias offered “ancillary equipment, a real, real experience, jobs and interest in talking to us about internships…exactly what we’re wanting to do here.”
Parish reported the message he got was, “Nobody’s talked to us
“I’d just like us to explore one more alternative–
- ancillary equipment
Parish contended that the two programs–machine tooling and robotics–were being combined “out of necessity.”
He also pointed out that the Federal grant of $500,000 was “really $380,000.
“We could much more than that if we worked in a more cooperative way with Sage.
“I’m not ready to vote on it.”
“This isn’t something we’ve done overnight,” former Board President Mary Miller said. “I’m a little take back at what you and Mr. Wilbeck have [done].”
“I’m educating myself,” Wilbeck replied.
“I have a lot of manufacturing clients crying for this,” the CPA Miller continued.
“It’s upsetting. There’s a reason why we need the program here.”
“It seems to me it should be here,” added newly-elected Board member Molly Walsh.
“I’m concerned that other people won’t come.”
President Vicky Smith was next.
“We’ve been meeting with manufacturers for the last two years and Sage has been at these meetings. It is possible the people coming to our meetings was the Operations Manager or the Human Resources Manager. [You were talking to people] higher in the food chain.
“This project has robotics component and a machining component.
“We have to serve both of them.
“We have been meeting separately with the plastics and the manufacturing people. We can invite them.”
Smith pointed out that the machine tool would be in the space where the Black Box [Theater] is.
Trustee Linda Liddell pointed out that there was “a time element with the grant.”
“We have to start by this fall,” Smith told the Board.
Speaking to Parish, Walsh said, “The project you are proposing would only take care of half of it.”
“I don’t want to put a half a million dollars at a third party location. It’s like moving nursing equipment to a hospital.
“We’re already doing student teaching on some manufacturing equipment,” she added.
Heather Zaccagnini, who is in charge of the program, noted, “We have internships already. We do it completely on site for Scott Forge.
“If Sage would partner with us, it would be fantastic.”
“I find it helpful to come to my teachers when I need help,” Student Trustee Michele Lambert observed.
“I feel it would be a really big distraction [to have classes off site].”
“If we go through with the recommendation, will Sage still get the pool of people with the training they need?” Trustee Chris Jenner asked.
“Internship is really low risk,” Zaccagnini answered.
When the roll was called, Parrish and Wilbeck voted, “No.”
Contacted after the meeting, Wilbeck said,
“I would like to continue working with the Sage folks. It looks like we will have to add that to the curriculum.The $2mil addition was passed 5-2. At this time I don’t see a compromise.”