VICKSBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – CAD, Autodesk, solid works, coding, and virtual reality. You may or may not be familiar with those words. They are, however, very important when it comes to preparing Mississippi’s workforce for the future.

Through Hinds Community College (HCC) and the City of Vicksburg, an emerging technology training center is at the forefront. For 33 years, Kelle Barefield worked for Entergy and is now the president of Warren County Board of Supervisors. She understands the importance of workforce readiness.

“Fundamentally, the very first question was not, ‘Do you have land? How much is the electricity going to cost us?’  It was, ‘Do you have the qualified workforce to do what you are doing?'” she explained.

This is what’s behind the Mississippi Center for Innovation and Technology (MCITY), which is housed in a transforming historic commercial building in Vicksburg. Mayor George Flaggs is thankful for the opportunity HCC has given Vicksburg.

“I know it’s because you believe that your investment in the City of Vicksburg can pay very good dividends,” said Flaggs.

College leaders said their mission is to cultivate a culture of innovation and progression in the Vicksburg area, utilizing cutting-edge technology. The winner will be the students who learn and take advantage of an industry 4.0 lab, a virtual reality/augmented reality lab and a workforce multipurpose lab. There is also an economic win.

“So, our vision for this center is to help existing industries with their existing staff or with future employees, but to also help those entrepreneurs, who have an idea of a new business, be able to help them with design,” said David Creel with HCC.

All this will use state of the art industry automation systems as an extension of the exiting mechatronics systems on the HCC campuses. Mechatronics Kenneth Bibb demonstrated the cyber physical lab simulating the assembly process of a small phone.

“Operators then take the instructions and assemble the phone however it specifies once its done. Operator confirms the output station, and then it takes the finished product and puts it in one of our open slides, and it will be put in it.  One of our open slides will be sent off for delivers or storage, wherever we designated,” said Bibb.

MCITY will also leverage its partnership with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, as well as focus workforce development to meet the needs of major tech organizations in Central Mississippi and the Vicksburg regions.