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Marinette’s NCMMTC® undergoes renovations

The facility in downtown Marinette includes a marine welding lab, electrical lab, computer lab, conference space

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September 19, 2023

MARINETTE – Education is like a revolving door that is essential for growth, especially for industries throughout Wisconsin as vital as marine manufacturing.

With that in mind, the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center (NCMMTC®) in Marinette is doing what it can to stay competitive with the latest technology and tools.

Located at 1428 Main St. in Marinette, the 25,000-square-foot NCMMTC opened in early 2012 after the college and local leaders felt the training needs of the community had outgrown its previous space.

Jim Draeger, Dean of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s (NWTC) Corporate Training & Economic Development (CTED), said subsequently, the center was founded to support the growing maritime trades industry in the area.

“It’s important to create a welcoming, inclusive environment representative of our district’s many industries,” he said. “With the increasing demand for training and instructors, the requirement for space also rose.”

Led by NWTC’s CTED, the center offers a variety of programs in areas such as maritime electrical, ship lifting, pipefitting and welding.

Together, Draeger said it serves some of our nation’s largest maritime industry manufacturers.

“The NCMMTC strengthens our relationship with the maritime industry,” he said. “It strengthens our skilled workforce, ensuring our communities continue to thrive.”

Over the past nine years, the NCMMTC has served more than 11,175 maritime workers and supported their training endeavors.

As a whole, Draeger said the center provides instruction for newly hired and incumbent workers. 

Over the past two years, he said the facility has undergone “significant renovations.”

This included doubling the size of classrooms to create a more spacious and accommodating learning environment and redesigning the computer lab to be a multi-functional space that serves as both a classroom and a lab.

The latest phase of the renovation project focused on the designs displayed on the walls and in the student spaces. Submitted Photo

“The North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center was formerly home to three separate companies, and as these organizations expanded, it became clear NWTC needed to utilize the entire space,” he said. “Previous renovations left the area feeling disjointed.”

In 2021, Draeger said NWTC made significant investments in the center, aiming to meet the growing demands for space and workforce development.

“That phase of the renovation provided a dedicated and more open-concept office spaces for our instructors, which fosters collaboration and the exchange of techniques and ideas among our highly skilled trainers,” he said.

More to come
Aimed at creating an improved learning environment, Draeger said more projects were planned and approved and will take place over the course of this year.

“The NCMMTC staff and leadership engaged in continuous improvement sessions led by CTED trainer Angela Winkler,” he said. “These sessions effectively addressed the center’s challenges and needs, allowing for the identification of appropriate solutions.”

These sessions, Draeger said, also helped optimize room design and utilization and prioritize each sector of the project.

The overall project is scheduled to be completed in early 2024.

“Our hope with the renovation of the NCMMTC is that we can inspire learners to embrace and be excited for training, upskilling and continuously growing in their careers,” he said. “This latest renovation aims to create a cohesive environment, dedicating the entire building to learners and organizations.”

Draeger said the renovation will enable the center to offer professional development opportunities, comprehensive computer training and provide ample versatile space for meetings and rentals.

“These enhancements greatly enhance the functionality and versatility of our facility,” he said.

Draeger said the biggest classroom/lab renovation is to the facility’s main welding lab.

“Our primary goal is to create a safe and efficient learning environment that fosters optimal skill development,” he said.

A new automation lab, Draeger said, is also in the works.

The space will be multi-purposed and serve as a lab for automation trainers, as well as a lecture hall and classroom with full audio, visual and networking capabilities.

A second lab, a pipe lab, will be equipped with a new exhaust and ventilation system, plus brazing booths with gas connections – which Draeger said can also be used for TIG welding classes.

“This equipment would match equipment found in shipyards,” he said. “New storage solutions, including racks and security gates were also installed for more efficient and safe storage for materials.”

These upgrades, Draeger said, are a critical component to acquiring industry-required skills.

“Maritime is a multi-billion-dollar industry, creating hundreds and thousands of high-paying jobs in our area,” he said. “Our facilities and training methods accurately simulate real-world welding, ship fitting and electrical work.”

Draeger said the electrical lab replicates the environment of a real ship and even has overhead wiring.

Teaching conditions, he said, also mimic real-life scenarios on the job.

“We employ the use of mirrors to weld in tight spaces and upside down, ensuring our students are well-prepared for any challenge,” he said.

Visual renovations
Parallel to the ongoing renovations and advancements in training, Draeger said the center also unveiled visual additions to the walls.

“The latest phase of the renovation project at NCMMTC focuses on the designs displayed on the walls and in the student spaces,” he said. “NWTC collaborated with Wild Blue to create a visually appealing look that aligns with the NWTC brand while injecting more vitality into the area.”

The electrical lab at the training center was constructed to replicate the environment of a real ship. Submitted Photo

Along with implementing fresh paint and a new color theme, Draeger said wood and industrial elements were strategically incorporated alongside photos to showcase the diverse industries of the region.

“Our goal is to ensure all learners and organizations feel a sense of belonging when they visit the space,” he said.

Draeger said the renovations, upgrades and decorative installations all help to bring inclusivity to the forefront at the center – which are not only a benefit to students but an inviting opportunity for other businesses as well.

“By diversifying, NWTC strengthens more area businesses and helps drive the growth and success of Marinette and surrounding communities,” he said. “The NCMMTC plays a vital role in boosting the local economy. This project depicts the rich history of the many industries that drive our local economy and inspires students entering our four walls to continue the work into the future.”

Draeger said the NCMMTC also rents out the facility to multiple organizations, like The Marinette & Oconto Counties Literacy Council, which holds weekly English classes for Spanish-speaking community members.

“Nonprofits, government and community groups and businesses of all sizes can utilize the classrooms for their own training or meetings,” he said.

Draeger said as students transition into the workforce, they contribute to the growth and resilience of the Greater Marinette community.

“NWTC has a long history with the maritime industry through strengthening and building a skilled workforce pipeline,” he said. “The center remains a leader in maritime and weld training.”

Public open house
As the project enters its final stage, Draeger said a public unveiling is in the works.

“CTED will be hosting an open house event to invite residents and businesses of Marinette and the surrounding area to explore and experience the newly renovated NCMMTC® space,” he said. “It will be an opportunity for the community to discover how this space can be utilized to fulfill their needs.”

For more information on training centers, their programs or the upcoming open house, visit

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