Wallace State to host grand opening of Centers for Welding and Innovation

Aug 17, 2023Gail Crutchfield
Center for Welding Technology and Innovation Center

Hanceville, AL — Wallace State Community College will host a grand opening for its Center for Welding Technology and Innovation Center on Monday, Aug. 21 at 10 a.m. Several capital investment projects will also be announced as part of the festivities.

“We are excited to share with everyone the new Center for Welding Technology and Innovation Center,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics. “We will also provide updates on three capital investment projects that the college has planned over the next several years.

Wallace State broke ground on the new building in 2018 and students began taking classes there in October 2022. The 30,000 square-foot building is the largest welding training facility in the Southeast. It includes four robotic welding stations, with three new stations expected soon; nine virtual welding simulators; 81 welding booths; 20 grinding booths; a fabrication area with two welders, a plasma CNC table, and pipe welding equipment; and three state-of-the-art classrooms with built-in cameras, microphones and speakers to allow hosting online classes.

Welding interior

The building also houses the Innovation Center, which will act as an incubator for new and expanding businesses. The center will facilitate connections between faculty and entrepreneurs and improve survival for small and medium-sized startups in their initial years of work. Wallace State has previously provided space to businesses such as Zero RPM, Sequence Health and DB Technologies.

Wallace State estimates that the Center for Welding Technology and Innovation Center will create approximately 98 new jobs and invest approximately $25 million in payroll revenue into the community in the first eight years.

“Wallace State is committed to learning that transforms lives and communities,” Karolewics said. “This building is an illustration of that mission. The new welding facility allows us to impact more lives by providing more opportunities for students to receive training that leads to high-demand, high-wage jobs. And the innovation center provides more spaces for up-and-coming businesses to grow and prosper.

“I am thankful to be able to teach in such an outstanding facility,” said Randy Hammond, Wallace State Welding Program Director. “This gives us the ability to train welders for the state of Alabama at a whole new level.”

“We are thankful to everyone who had a part in this achievement,” Karolewics added. “We wouldn’t be here without the support of so many - from our faculty and staff and the Alabama Community College System to legislators to community and business partners. They all played a major part in this building project. Just as welding joins elements together to create a strong bond, we have done the same to open the door to more opportunities for our students and the community.”

The grand opening program for the Center for Welding Technology and Innovation Center will begin at 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. A reception will follow with tours of the building. The public is invited to attend. 

Wallace State’s Welding program offers associate degrees in welding and robotic welding. Wallace State is the first community college in the state to offer the latter. The program also offers various welding certificates and has three American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspectors on staff at its campuses in Hanceville and Oneonta.

Registration for the Fall 2023 semester in underway. Regular and Mini Term I classes begin Aug.18. Flex Start terms begin Aug. 25 and Sept. 1. Mini Term II classes begin Oct. 19. For more information, visit www.wallacestate.edu, call the main campus at 256.352.8000 or come by Lion Central in the lobby of the James C. Bailey Center Monday-Wednesday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or Friday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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