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Daley College opens $45 million manufacturing and engineering center

Guadalupe Escamilla, student at Richard J. Daley College, examines robotic arms at the new Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center.

Guadalupe Escamilla, student at Richard J. Daley College, examines robotic arms at the new Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center. | Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

City Colleges of Chicago opened the doors to a new $45 million manufacturing and engineering center with the mission of exposing students to technology being used in the field today.

The 57,000-square-foot facility at Richard J. Daley College, 4101 W. 76th St., will replace mobile classrooms put in place nearly five decades ago.

The Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center is the largest and most advanced facility at any of the City Colleges campuses. It will serve as the hub for students looking to earn certification, an associate’s degree or transfer opportunities to four-year colleges for careers in manufacturing and engineering technology.

“What you will see in the center is the kind of advanced equipment, robotics equipment, process controls, quality-control equipment, the kind of technology you are going to see in today’s high-tech advance manufacturing floors,” said Juan Salgado, City Colleges chancellor.

City Colleges also modernized its curriculum to meet industry needs to make students strong prospects when they enter the job market.

Guadalupe Escamilla, 24, said he is excited to use the new equipment while pursuing advanced certifications in welding. He received his basic certifications in 2016.

“The classes I’m taking now can also be applied to an associate’s degree, and I am really considering that for the future,” Escamilla said.

New machinery students will use at the Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center in the Richard J. Daley College campus. | Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

About 250 people attended the opening of the center, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, and several aldermen.

Emanuel, who isn’t seeking re-election, called attention to the city’s efforts to improve City Colleges since he took office in 2011.

“Today we open the doors to a new future at Richard J. Daley College, from right here to Truman to Malcolm X to Olive Harvey, we’ll have modernized four of our seven campuses and invested more than $560 million in capital projects to bring our community colleges into the 21st century,” Emanuel said. “What all this adds up to is a city that stands with the students who’ve been overlooked and underestimated, pushed to the side because ‘They weren’t our kids.’”

“You’re our children, your future is our future, and we are going to invest in that future.”

Only some manufacturing classes will be held at the new facility this semester as City Colleges continues to add equipment and put some finishing touches on the building.

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.