A ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday morning at Heartland Community College signaled the start of construction on a new $17.5 million facility aimed at training students for electric vehicle-oriented professions.
Called the Electric Vehicle Energy Storage (EVES) Manufacturing Training Academy (MTA), the 45,000-square-foot building north of the Student Commons building will give a permanent home to Heartland’s EVES program, which has been underway since late 2021.
“This will be the very first academic facility designed for the training of students in electric vehicle and energy storage in the state of Illinois,” said HCC president Keith Cornille. “In fact, just earlier this summer, we kicked off our agriculture facility project … and I stated at that time, it’s been some time since our college campus’s footprint has seen some changes. These new changes … are designed to move our community forward.”
Construction on the six-bay EV lab is expected to begin within a week, with the goal that the building will be finished by the fall 2023 semester and ready for students by January 2024, said HCC public information director Steve Fast. Getting students in the building, he added, depends on how quickly equipment can be installed; if it takes longer than expected, the facility may not be ready to accept students until 2025.
About 200 students each year are expected to go through programs of study that will make use of the EVES MTA. In addition to the obvious courses — those that deal with electric vehicles or energy storage — the MTA also will house students in other programs, including industrial technology and manufacturing programs like HVAC training.
“We have seen the makeup of the manufacturing workforce change throughout our state and here in our local community — and as a result, we’ve heard from community partners and business leaders that employers need a workforce with more specialized training,” Cornille said.
“We have also seen the need for career pathways that are flexible and stackable in nature to reach not only students looking for an entry into a career, but also to provide opportunities for those who are already working in these fields, but just need some of their skills to be refined.”