Innovation Hub will boost local vocational education
It will provide students with up-to-date means of working on career skills and adds a 21st-century vocational flair, providing computer-aided design (CAD) and training in other career fields such as engineering, health science and art. It will be built on the Paducah Tilghman High School practice fields between the main school building and the current area technical center, facing 25th Street and attached to the main school building at the auxiliary gym. It will have a glass facade surrounding the two-story, 90,000-square-foot building.
The building will include a robotics lab, art room, a moveable 75-inch TV screen, large work areas for different fields like welding and automotive work, CAD lab, ROTC classroom - even school board office space. School board offices will be moved from the former Cooper-Whiteside Intermediate School building on Caldwell Street, which was built in the late 1950s.
"As long as the bids come out right, we're going to move the board office to there," said Superintendent Donald Shively. "We're going to go from a 19,000-square-foot building to a 7,000-square-foot office space. Our energy savings per year has been estimated to be a minimum of almost $30,000."
The school district voted April 16 to purchase a 1.5-acre tract of land across Otis Dinning Drive from the high school because the Innovation Hub will take land that was used as football and band practice fields. The newly purchased land will be used for practice fields.
The school district plans on accepting bids in early August, beginning construction in late August with a ground-breaking in September. The facility is expected to be completed in spring 2020 in time for fall classes that year.
"We want our students to build a vision for their life," said Shively. "We want them to have small pieces of what it's like to be an engineer, what it's like to be a welder, what it's like to be a carpenter, what it's like to be a programmer to help them start to build a vision at an early age."
While the Innovation Hub seems like a modern area technical center, Shively said it will be much more.
"It will allow our kids to have access to an area technology center, but it's not just an area technology center," he said. "It's engineering, it's (information technology), it's robotics, it's CAD. It is a rebranding of (the area technology center), but the needs are great and the opportunities to have a very successful life in those programs are there.
"For too long, we've said, 'You've got to go to college.' Everybody has to have the ability to have lifelong learning, and that doesn't always mean college, from my standpoint. You look at welding, where people are making six figures that (gain) certification, so they might have a two-year degree. Some get out (of high school) and go straight to work."
The career education that Paducah students gain through the Innovation Hub will make them more marketable to the workforce, regardless of the field they choose. The learning opportunities of today and the career opportunities of tomorrow stand to grow significantly when its doors are opened.