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.
UNI is requesting a total of $39.7 million over three years from the state’s Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund to renovate and expand the building: $1 million in FY 21 (already appropriated), $15.9 million in FY 22 and $22.8 million in FY 23. UNI will raise an additional $4.2 million in private donations, for a total project cost of $43.9 million. This is the third year the university has requested money from the state legislature for the ITC modernization.
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