County college expands facilities to supply manufacturing demand

About 160,000 people are employed in New Jersey’s advanced manufacturing sector, and it’s not enough.

“It’s crazy to think that there are high-paying jobs, and there are jobs available, and there are employers that are desperate to fill their workforce and can’t find people to do it,” said Patrick Enright.

Patrick Enright is the dean of professional studies and applied sciences at the County College of Morris, where he and school management showed off plans for a new advanced manufacturing center.

“We spent a year talking with manufacturers, hosting roundtable meetings at the college, talking to economic developers and others and made a decision that we really needed to support Morris County, and the region, really, as a whole, with a larger facility that would allow us to not only serve more people, but also bring in programs that we don’t currently have,” said Tony Iacono, the president of County College of Morris.

The school plans to double the size of its manufacturing class to about a thousand with the new 31,000 square-foot facility.

With 400 manufacturing companies of all sizes in Morris County alone, and a $31 billion industry throughout the state, the college believes the students will come.

“We find that our students with a two-year degree can get a job with one of the area manufacturers. They’re starting at an average salary of 60,000,” Iacono said.

Manufacturing today is really a high-tech job; no more coveralls or dirty floors. In fact, companies say they cannot find enough high-skilled workers to fill all the jobs.

Advanced manufacturing includes 3D printing, chemicals, biotech and robotics.

“That’s one of the real challenges, is getting across to students that the manufacturing floor isn’t your grandfather’s manufacturing floor anymore,” Enright said.

“Now you see all the stuff being done by advanced computer controlled equipment,” said former student Eric Pedersen.

The college is spending $10 million on the new facility. The money is coming from the state, the county and private donors. With the funds, the school is also able to expand its health care program. A simulation hospital will take the place of the current manufacturing building.

The Paragano Family Foundation is giving $350,000.

Monica Maraska, dean of health professions and natural sciences said, “We’re able to simulate everything that happens in the hospital. We actually create real patient scenarios which involve our patient simulators, high fidelity simulators, which are able to mimic just about any patient situation.”

Ground breaking on the new facility is set for this coming fall with a goal of manufacturing a whole class of new students by fall of 2019.