The main factor limiting the growth of Iowa’s construction and manufacturing industries is a shortage of workers. UNI’s Industrial Technology Center (ITC) is home to the Department of Technology, an umbrella of programs that educate students for technology, manufacturing and construction fields – some of the fastest-growing sectors in Iowa. UNI is the only public university in Iowa with these specific technology degrees. The department serves an important role in the state, as a large percentage of graduates work in Iowa.
The ITC also houses nationally recognized programs such as the Metal Casting Center, a materials research and foundry site providing students hands-on experience working with industry partners. UNI’s center serves more clients than any other metal casting center in North America.
Built in 1974 to educate shop teachers, industry has changed greatly in the 45 years since the building was constructed. The facility lacks the space students now need for collaborative, hands-on learning with industry-standard equipment. The building’s infrastructure is also in need of maintenance; the facility’s systems are stressed to support the department’s technology-heavy requirements. The ITC modernization will help the department of technology meet existing industry demands but also adapt to future needs.
The project includes an extensive renovation of existing spaces and facility expansion. It is estimated that the modernization project will allow the department to boost enrollment by 40% to help meet Iowa’s workforce needs. The proposed three-year renovation/expansion project will modernize the building’s current spaces and systems and expand the facility by 47,829 gross square feet (GSF). The updated 100,071 GSF facility will serve today’s needs and ensure UNI’s Department of Technology can prepare Iowa’s industry leaders for tomorrow.
With a modernized Industrial Technology Center, UNI will:
• Expand applied student learning, research and collaboration opportunities
• Support the delivery of state-of-the-art curriculum in technology-enhanced labs that meet industry standards
• Strengthen partnerships with industry associations such as Master Builders of Iowa, Associated Builders and Contractors of Iowa, Associated General Contractors of Iowa, IEEE, Foundry Educational Foundation, and Society of Manufacturing Engineers
• Serve the workforce needs of Iowa’s growing economic sectors and better prepare K-12 educators to teach STEM and career and technical disciplines
• Increase economic development in high-need Iowa industries through nationally-recognized programs such as the Metal Casting and Additive Manufacturing Centers
The 2020 Iowa Legislature fully funded UNI’s state appropriations request for the ITC Modernization over four years (total $40.5 million), as follows:
• $1 million for FY 2021 (enacted by the 2019 Iowa Legislature)
• $13 million for FY 2022
• $18 million for FY 2023
• $8.5 million for FY 2024
The FY 2022 request is status quo.