Clark College celebrates construction milestone


The decade-long work to build a new Clark College campus received its latest affirmation as a decorated steel beam was hoisted upon the first of several structures planned for the site.

On Nov. 2, at a site on the east side of Ridgefield’s Interstate 5 junction, nearly 100 attendees, including the college mascot, Oswald the Penguin, watched as a construction beam was raised high into the air and placed next to more regular-looking steel.

It was part of a “topping out” ceremony, something many development companies want to have to show the work they have done.

“The history of ‘topping out,’ while debated in its origins, represents a symbol of gratitude for the hard work that has brought us to this moment. And the evergreen tree atop the beam represents both a thanksgiving and a prayer for the health and prosperity of future students and community members who will inhabit this structure,” Mike Dickey, senior project manager of construction firm Mortenson, said in a release from the college.

The topped-up spot, at the structure’s pinnacle, features a blue-painted steel beam decorated with the U.S. flag and an evergreen tree, “symbolizing persistence, prosperity and longevity…” according to the release.

“The Advanced Manufacturing Center will equip future students with innovative training for careers in the manufacturing trades while also providing programs accessible to Ridgefield and the communities in north Clark County,” said Dr. Karin Edwards, president of Clark College. “Our vision is for this progressive instructional center to serve our growing region and the critical workforce needs, including advanced manufacturing.”

Set to be complete in 2024, the Advanced Manufacturing Center spans 49,000 square feet on a 10-acre property. The 35,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing training will include three industry-specific classrooms, four labs, five manufacturing cells and a vast open manufacturing floor. The remaining 14,000 square feet will house five general education classrooms and faculty and student amenities. 

On track to be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified building, the Advanced Manufacturing Center will meet state energy performance standards, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve operational efficiencies, the release stated. It is designed to accommodate a number of instructional and community needs, and the Advanced Manufacturing Center will be adaptable for future growth.

The center will feature a number of design elements supporting traditional lectures, project-based learning and hybrid models using online content, the release stated. The acoustic design will manage machine noise to allow for students and staff to talk unamplified.

The building is expected to start hosting students in fall 2025, with an initial enrollment of 32 students for advanced manufacturing, the release stated. The building will also provide general education classes that can serve up to 1,200 students per term.

Clark College Board of Trustees Chair Cristhian Canseco Juarez said the college “is a beacon of opportunity for equitable access to higher education in Southwest Washington.”

“This Advanced Manufacturing Center not only stands as a testament to the college’s commitment to innovation and growth but also underscores our dedication to our community needs and providing the local industry with highly skilled workers,” Juarez said. 

Clark College bought the land where the Clark College at Boschma Farms sits in 2014 from the namesake Boschma family. The college had a ceremonial groundbreaking for the site in June 2022.