Flint, MI—Thanks to an infusion of federal support, Mott Community College will be renovating its Prahl College Center with an eye toward workforce development.
At a Jan. 17, 2023 press conference, officials announced $650,000 from the federal government’s recent funding bill to purchase new equipment to enhance workforce training programs. The equipment is part of Mott’s broader plan to overhaul the center, which was built in 1971.
“It is a time of innovation and transformation for Mott Community College,” said Mott’s President Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea at the press conference.
According to Walker-Griffea, Mott is planning to begin construction of the center in fall 2023 and the project is estimated to cost a total of $25 million. The center, which will be renamed the Prahl College Innovation Center, is slated to open in late 2025.
The center’s entry level will provide a one-stop shop for student services including enrollment, financial aid and advising, and the lower level will include the future careers hub.
“The future careers hub is a space where students will have an opportunity to both be engaged virtually and in-person relative to career exploration activities, and then to also connect with employment opportunities,” said Robert Matthews, Mott’s associate vice president of workforce and economic development.
The center’s upper level will include a technology and cyber hub. There, students will have access to specialized equipment and technology, including drones, digital interactive whiteboards, and workstations for students studying computer repair, according to Robert Benard, information technology professor and program coordinator at Mott.
The hub, he noted, will serve as an area for students to work on projects outside of class time.
Further, there will be labs located on the upper level including an artificial intelligence lab and two networking/cybersecurity labs.
“We’re going to have our networking racks and our networking equipment shared between these two different labs, which will also enable us to do security training, where you may have one group be the good guys and [the other group] be the hacker,” Benard told Flint Beat.
Benard said the renovated building will house Mott’s information technology, computer information systems, data analytics, as well as computer networking and cybersecurity programs. The programs are currently based in Mott’s Regional Technology Center.
The Prahl College Innovation Center, Benard added, “will allow a greater degree of collaboration between the students, especially based on how it’s designed.”
U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who represents the state of Michigan and helped secure the renovation funding, honed in on Mott’s potential to enhance students’ training in the field of artificial intelligence.
“Artificial intelligence is going to transform the manufacturing process, and one thing about us here in Michigan and in the greater Flint area [is] we know how to make things,” Peters said during the press conference. “The AI systems will make you even better at making things.”
And, he added, “That kind of training will now be possible to a greater extent because of the investment made in this in the center.”