TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College officials will spend the summer welding a host of new, high-tech skilled trade equipment to the college's technical programming and curriculum.

The equipment ranges from server computers for NMC's information technology equipment to a new underwater remotely operated vehicle for marine technology classes.

NMC Technical Division Director Ed Bailey said the new equipment, funded largely through a $2 million state grant awarded to NMC last February, said many four-year universities don't yet possess such equipment, giving many NMC students an edge when they enter the work force.

"What this does for our students is it basically allows them access to equipment that's current and state-of-the-art in their industries," he said.

NMC officials in the winter offered up roughly $700,000 in matching money to qualify for $2 million from the state. The state allocation to NMC was part of a larger effort to improve technical training opportunities for Michigan's community college students.

State officials in all doled out $50 million in grant funding to 18 different community colleges.

Specific equipment received by NMC included a pair of welding system simulators, side-scan sonar gear — sonar equipment used to survey large areas of sea or lake floor — and an eBEE unmanned aerial drone.

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