GAINESVILLE ‒ A new facility at Santa Fe College will soon help address the severe state-wide shortage in welding and HVAC certified skilled labor. Shovels were raised and dirt was flying as the College held a ceremonial groundbreaking on Monday, Sept. 11 for the Ralph W. Cellon Jr. Institute for Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing.
Construction on the facility is expected to begin next year with a projected opening of fall 2025. The institute will be built on SF’s Northwest Campus located at 3000 N.W. 83rd Street across the street from the SF Gymnasium. It will more than double the college's capacity in the Welding and HVAC programs and the college will also begin a new degree program in Advanced Manufacturing.
The event was well attended by the Florida Legislature with State Senator Keith Perry, State Representative Chuck Clemons and State Representative Bobby Payne attending. Many members of the Cellon family, Santa Fe’s District Board of Trustees, Santa Fe’s Foundation Board members and other dignitaries were in attendance as well.
The facility is being named in honor of Ralph W. Cellon, a longtime supporter of the college. Cellon has been a central figure throughout the college’s history. He helped lead the effort to secure the land where the college’s Northwest Campus is located, served as an inaugural trustee on the college’s District Board of Trustees, and has continuously served for 54 years on the Board of the Santa Fe College Foundation.
“Ralph Cellon has been integral to the growth of Santa Fe College since its inception and it is fitting that this new facility be named in his honor,” Santa Fe President Paul Broadie II said. “He knows the power of a college education, and the need for highly skilled workers in the trades. As demand continues to grow in these industries, students graduating from our programs will be able to enter their career field knowing that they have been trained utilizing the latest technology and are poised for success.”
The new facility will increase space needed for students in SF’s Welding and HVAC programs. When the facility opens, the increased space will enable the college to see a 275 percent increase in the number of students that can be trained in HVAC and Welding.
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