Community members and dignitaries gathered at Merced College on Thursday to celebrate a major milestone in the construction of the college’s new Raj Kahlon Agriculture and Industrial Technology Complex.
The college held a “topping-off” ceremony to recognize the placement of the tallest or final beam of a construction project. The 29,000-square-foot building is now nearly 50 percent complete, and substantial completion is expected by August.
Local farmer Raj Kahlon committed $5 million, the largest donation in the college’s history, toward the complex as part of a partnership agreement in 2018.
“Watching this building take shape over the past several months has been a major bright spot for us on the Merced College campus,” President Chris Vitelli said. “We could not be more grateful for the support of our community, and we are so excited to be able to offer this kind of top-notch facility and welcoming environment to our agricultural and industrial technology students.”
When complete, the Ag-IT complex will be the first new building on campus since 2009, helping to modernize the campus to better prepare today’s workforce.
The animal science, crop science, plant science and horticulture programs will move into their new home in August, relocating from a number of locations across campus. The project will also upgrade training equipment for industrial technology programs in HVAC, industrial maintenance, electronics and computer networking, as well as plenty of space for meetings, seminars, alumni events, fundraisers and conferences.
The new building will help in attracting local students to Merced College’s programs, and the upgrades will ensure they are well trained and prepared for a wide range of careers to help boost the local agricultural workforce.