Walking around the new addition that’s under construction at Madison College, Jimmy DeGidio looked around with anticipation.
He helped start the metal fabrication program in Fort Atkinson nine years ago out of high school. And now he is seeing the fruits of his labor take another giant step.
Madison College is in the process of adding a 4,703-square-foot edition at the Fort Atkinson location that will be complete by early September that will bring new technology and a chance for more students to earn two diplomas in less than a year.
“We didn’t have a lot of room here, and we really grew out of it quickly,” DeGidio said of the current space.
The idea for the $1.135 million addition began two years ago, he said. Not only will there be more room to add items like a laser cutter to go along with a water jet cutter, there also will be a new look to the college for those driving by.
Construction started when classes ended in May. The addition also allows for the remodel of another 3,598 square feet of the building. The class size also increases from a maximum of 14 to 20 students.
“This allows us to expand our C&C cutting capacity and add a C&C laser cutting tool,” DeGidio said.
By moving the equipment into the new area, there will be nine welding booths in the remodeled section, and a classroom area where students will use computers for design work.
The expansion is part of a high demand for fabrication and welding jobs in the state and nation, DeGidio said.
“There is high demand in this area,” he said. “They cannot find enough help.”
DeGidio, who is co-director of the program, said this expansion not only is good for students, but also a way to showcase what Madison College has to offer here.
“This is just like this hidden gem we have here,” DeGidio said.
The new addition will allow the college to not store steel in a separate shed on the campus. Instead, a semi now will be able to back directly into the new area and an overhead crane will unload the steel.
“This is a good way to promote our program and get students in here,” DeGidio said.
The college also is able to offer the fabrication and welding programs at the same time — something DeGidio said is a big draw for students.
“Once they get the skills we are giving them, then they can choose where they want to go,” he said.
The field of fabrication has been in high demand for a while, DeGidio said. When Madison College in Fort Atkinson first combined the fabrication and welding programs, it was the first in the country to do that. And to have a person receive both skills in nine months is attractive to students.
“That was well received,” he said. “The college and employees loved it.”
Fred Brechlin, planning and construction manager at Madison College, said a nice feature to the building will be the façade.
“There will be some ports on the façade that allows students to showcase their work,” he said. “Panels are installed, and work can be switched out with lighting to showcase the items.”
The metal work will be able to be seen by persons driving by.
There also will be some drainage improvements, with a rain garden, made to the campus, Brechlin said.
The project will be complete when classes resume.