Flint, MI—Mott Community College has a brand new classroom—on wheels.
The college’s Workforce and Economic Development Division recently unveiled its new 48-foot-long, 1,000-square-foot “Mobile Learning Lab” with an eye toward making education and training more accessible to everyone.
“The idea is any place that’s accessible by a truck … we can make training happen,” said Steven Clapp, a welding instructor for MCC, during a tour of the new mobile lab.
“The biggest problem is putting together a huge expensive lab and then getting people to come to the lab to do stuff,” Clapp said. “With this unit, we can actually take it to a place of business or take it to a school, and I can have you come out on your lunch hour.”
The goal of the ADA-compliant, two-room mobile lab is to bring job training directly to where it’s needed.
“We’ve married the classroom and the hands-on,” said Alan Myles, an IT instructor for MCC, motioning to one side of the truck which was currently configured as computer lab.
The other room can also be altered according to the training required at a particular location.
“Right now it’s set up as an advanced manufacturing lab,” said Kathleen LaVallier, a job development specialist at MCC, during the same tour. “But it can be easily transitioned into a medical training facility where we could bring in beds, mannequins, that type of thing. So it’s very flexible with the offerings that we can provide.”
In its advanced manufacturing lab state, Clapp demonstrated an augmented reality welding station. He explained the benefits of such technology beyond accessibility: the mobile lab’s process is less dangerous and less wasteful.
“You don’t have to deal with 2,500-degree metal or anything like that,” Clapp said, holding an electronic welding gun in one hand and pointing at the simulated vertical welding process on a screen with the other. “And I don’t have to have new stock (material) for you to try two dozen times before you even get the hang of it.”
After deciding if welding is something they want to pursue from the AR experience, a person would then receive further training with torches and materials necessary to the field.
Beyond the welding station, the advanced manufacturing lab was set up with a tooling station and a small robotics station, but Clapp noted the area could be set up for HVAC installation training and a variety of other specialized trainings.
“The lab will be available to companies looking to upskill their workers, nonprofits hoping to bring training onsite, and community organizations looking to bring education into their neighborhoods,” Matthews said.
“We will use it to provide financial and computer literacy along with adult education like GED training,” he added. “We want the MLL to be a resource for the community and provide a path for people to better their lives.”
The Mobile Learning Lab does not yet have a pricing structure for trainings, but Matthews said the hope is to use grants and institutional funding to reduce costs as much as possible.
For more information on the mobile lab or how to book it, Regional Talent Initiative Center, MCC’s Workforce and Economic Development team can be reached at 810-762-0278.