Aiken Technical College has begun construction on the Center for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing, a state-of-the-art facility that will be a training center for developing Aiken County’s nuclear and manufacturing workforce.

The new, 36,000-square-foot facility will house the college’s advanced manufacturing, welding, radiation protection technology and nuclear quality systems programs.

ATC has selected an Augusta-based firm, R.W. Allen, as the new building’s contractor after a competitive bidding process.

R.W. Allen operates in six states and focuses on highly specialized commercial construction projects.

“We are pleased to work with R.W. Allen on this exciting addition to our community,” said ATC President Dr. Susan Winsor. “We look forward to working together over the next year to build this economic development center that will be instrumental in building our workforce for decades to come.”

Construction began on the new facility earlier this week, following last month’s ceremonial groundbreaking.

The new building, which was designed by Greenville-based architect McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, is slated for completion in late summer 2015.

“The Center for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing will be a much-needed addition not only to Aiken Technical College’s campus, but to the entire CSRA,” said Scott Clark, the R.W. Allen president and chief operation officer. “We look forward to participating with ATC, the state of South Carolina, the U.S. Economic Development Administration and McMillan Pazdan Smith on this project.”

The new, $8.5 million facility will contain bays (labs), classrooms, a multi-use training space and faculty offices.

The building’s flexible design will allow for easy changeover between spaces to accommodate evolving training needs in the future.

ATC has received financial support from legislative, community and industry partners to make the Center for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing a reality.

In 2012, ATC received a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The grant required $2 million in matching funds from outside sources, and the ATC Foundation developed the Putting Knowledge to Work capital campaign to help raise this amount. So far, the college has reached approximately 98 percent of this goal.

In addition to it Putting Knowledge to Work campaign, ATC received support from the Aiken County Legislative Delegation through a $2.445 million allocation secured for the new facility during the 2012 legislative session.