Northern Michigan University held a rededication ceremony and open house for the newly renovated Jacobetti Complex. The facility and its labs are equipped to provide students in STEM and technical programs the required tools to be successful in industrial, engineering and service-related fields that are critical to the support of economic growth in the region and state.
“This renovation has created a learning environment that puts state-of-the-art equipment in our laboratories,” said NMU President Brock Tessman. “Students trained and proficient on these pieces of equipment will be the candidates of choice in today's workplace. The design features a lot of flexible space that can grow and change with evolving industry needs, and more collaborative spaces, such as the new Innovation Hall. Finally, I'm so pleased that this renovation helps Northern toward our sustainability and carbon neutrality goals. All of our new construction and renovation projects from this point must come from that perspective.”
“This is a game changer for future students, for the future workforce and the regional economy, said emcee Steve VandenAvond, dean of the College of Technology and Occupational Sciences.
The Jacobetti Complex is home to Northern's College of Technology and Occupational Sciences and Department of Engineering Technology. These two academic areas offer some of the most highly sought-after educational training programs for today's 21st century workforce. The overall renovation enhances the learning experience for NMU students. It also aligns with the State of Michigan's goal to increase career-technical education for growth in engineering technology and CTE-skilled workers to meet demand.
“For as long as I've been working in Jacobetti, we've provided our students with a quality education that has provided them with successful careers and meaningful lives. The renovation won't change that, but it will provide a better learning environment, and hopefully attract more students. The jobs our students fill, including electrical and mechanical engineering, industrial electricians, power technicians, CNC technicians and K-12 technology teachers, are some of those in the highest demand in the country, and vital for the regional and national economy.”
“It was very exciting to walk into the building this fall to brand new classrooms, labs, lab equipment and furniture throughout, and know that I would be one of the first graduates fortunate enough to experience it all,” said engineering technology major Dan Burnett.
A goal of the project was to create modern, dynamic and highly efficient teaching and learning spaces. Each classroom and lab was built using NMU's design principles for active learning, with moveable furniture and supporting audio/visual technology. Classrooms are also sized to match enrollment. By eliminating underutilized space, Northern reduces its operation and maintenance costs.
The $28.6 million renovation was included in the supplemental appropriations bill in December 2018, but delayed in 2020 when state funding was reprioritized and bolstered to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The extensive two-year project was completed in time for the fall semester. NMU's hospitality management and cosmetology programs have relocated to the Northern Center.
The facility was built in 1980 to house career-technical/vocational programs and was first dedicated in 1981. It is named in honor of longtime U.P. state legislator Dominic J. Jacobetti.
Other speakers at the rededication ceremony were: NMU Board of Trustees Chair Steve Young;; Gene Carroll, Vice President/Partner, Neumann Smith Architecture; 2005 alumnus and Sen. Ed McBroom, State of Michigan Legislature; Rep. Jenn Hill, State of Michigan Legislature; Mike Rudisill, Department Head, Engineering Technology; 2023 alumna Hannah Reaman, Technology and Occupational Sciences; 2003 alumnus Mike Oswald, Chief Operating Officer, Hill & Wilkinson Construction Group (Fairview, Texas) and member of the NMU Foundation Board; Ruth Solinski representing Resolve Surgical Technologies.