PADUCAH — As crews continue to work on the Paducah Innovation Hub, Local 6 got a tour of the facility to learn what to expect when doors open for students next year.
Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Donald Shively said the roof of the Innovation Hub is expected to be complete by the end of November, and the building itself is expected to be done in late May or early June of 2020. Shively said they fully expect students in the facility when school begins in August.
"Enormous amount of excitement throughout the community, regardless of who I'm talking with," said Shively. "They're excited about what this building offers, about the ability to align different sectors of our students to the workforce needs of the community, whether it's our engineering lab that we're standing in right now, the IT, the networking, the robotics classrooms, our ROTC, the nursing classroom, or our carpentry program, our welding program, auto body or autotech."
The Innovation Hub, which is behind Paducah Tilghman High School, will be a place to teach students career and industry skills through classroom work and hands-on learning. The facility features a makerspace on the first floor, where students can use equipment to create things.
"You'll have two resource rooms here, then art, and then you'll have three lab setups where the functionality of the rooms will be able to open up. And so this one big area can function as a whole," said Shively of the makerspace area. "Over here is where you're going to have 3D printers, your CNC machines, your laser engravers for your students to create — to make things."
"It's not just scoring well on the test, which is extremely important," Shively added. "But it's also knowing how to think, how to problem solve, how to have fluid intelligence, how to take what you know and apply it to an unseen situation, how to work in a team and how to communicate."
The Innovation Hub also features labs and classrooms to teach engineering, carpentry, welding, and auto repairs. Shively pointed out that the auto repair areas feature wide doors to bring engines in and out of the classroom to the lab.
In addition, Shively said the ground floor will have a 96-seat seminar room for board meetings, professional development of teachers, speakers, and student training.
On the second floor, there is a classroom and lab to learn about IT, networking and computer science. Across the hall, there are classrooms for robotics and computer-aided design. There is a nursing lab and classroom as well, and an area for the ROTC program.
Shively said one of the priorities of the Innovation Hub is putting students' talents on display. It features wide hallways so student work can be displayed prominently. And the facility is open enough to allow students to see what others are up to.
"Younger students, other students that are trying to build that vision for their life, will be able to look down from the second story into what's going on -- not only in the welding area, but see the barge or see a construction project that we got going on," Shively said.
Shively said another advantage of the Innovation Hub is its flexibility. Because parts of the facility are movable and changeable, the building will be able to evolve with the economy.
Shively said the Innovation Hub will help retain talent for the local workforce.
"We want our students to graduate, go straight in the workforce, a two-year, four-year advancement degree, and come back and work in Paducah by design and not by chance," said Shively.
The Innovation Hub will serve students from Paducah Tilghman and McCracken County high schools, as well as students from St. Mary, Community Christian Academy, and Graves and Livingston counties.
Shively said the Innovation Hub is connected directly to Paducah Tilghman through a corridor. State grants, district funds and bonds fund the $22.6-million project.