New Mobile Learning Lab to extend its reach into Garfield County
A new Mobile Learning Lab unveiled last week by Colorado Mesa University and Western Colorado Community College will soon be making rounds across the region, including visits to Garfield County.
The mobile semi-trailer unit — packed full of high-tech learning gadgets — was made possible by large donations from the Sturm family of Grand Junction and ANB Bank.
“We believe CMU, WCCC and local employers can work together to better align higher education with job opportunities,” Emily Sturm said in a statement.
In fact, it will be available not only for learning opportunities aimed at area high school and college students but for businesses across the region as well, according to the partner institutions of WCCC and CMU.
“The commitment from WCCC is that this facility will deliver programming and training to every community in western Colorado who wants it … this lab has the capability to change how we think about delivery of education in our service area,” Brigitte Sündermann, vice president of Community College Affairs for WCCC, said.
One stop on a tour of Western Slope communities last week to introduce the new lab as Grand Valley High School in Parachute, where students got a firsthand look and all it has to offer.
The mobile lab contains a host of advanced “mechatronics” equipment. According to the release, mechatronics is a manufacturing and technology discipline that integrates software, programmable electronic controls, sensors, robotics and mechanical systems into automated equipment and advanced manufacturing processes.
“Advanced manufacturing continues to be a priority for our region’s economic future and this facility will play a meaningful role in preparing the workforce for that future,” Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Diane Schwenke said.
CMU President Tim Foster, a western Colorado native and former rural legislator, said he remembers the challenges facing small communities when it comes to education infrastructure.
The lab can be used to bring workforce training to businesses and schools, instead of workers and students having to go somewhere to get that education, he said.
“That’s the versatility that mobility brings to CMU and WCCC and the communities we serve,” Foster said.
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Carbondale Middle School has transitioned most of its fifth grade cohort, including students and teachers, to distance learning for the coming week due to a positive COVID-19 test.