The in-progress expansion of the Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center (RMCTC) in Reading, is a big deal for the area. The technical school serves many inner-city students, providing career training for construction, health sciences, transportation and manufacturing, among other trades. Work includes renovations and upgrades to selected areas of the existing building, as well as the new construction of a welding classroom building. Leibold Inc., a commercial and industrial HVAC, mechanical piping and plumbing contractor in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, was awarded the mechanical contract and the plumbing contract for this project.
According to Susan Albrecht, who oversees project management for Leibold, the new welding building is currently underway, with completion scheduled for May. Interior renovations on the existing building will begin over the summer once students are out. Interior renovations include combining two classrooms to create one larger classroom to house the Machinist Program and the 3D Fabrication Program, as well as modifications to the existing HVAC systems. Overall, it’s a significant expansion for the school.
“The current Welding Program area occupies 3,900 square feet, but the new building will be 9,099 square feet,” Albrecht shares. “The Welding Program is really growing, and they are also seeing more interest in women wanting to enter the field, which created a need for both women’s and men’s closed locker rooms in the new welding building.”
While projects of this scale often attract a wide range of companies, involvement is quite local. The architects and the engineers on the project are also local. That will help keep everything moving. Leibold is handling the CAD design and fabrication in-house.
“It’s really exciting that this is a local project for everyone involved,” Albrecht says. “The coordination so far has been fantastic.”
Albrecht says the project has not faced any significant challenges. While supply chain issues have been an ongoing problem, they were fortunate that all necessary equipment and materials arrived on time to meet the project schedule.
“Like everyone else, we are two years into dealing with supply chain troubles, so we’ve just learned to be incredibly proactive,” Albrecht says. “As soon as we have the necessary information, we get to work. We pride ourselves on good communication and coordination, and at a time like this, that’s more important than ever.”
Albrecht says that one of the unique aspects of this project is that the new building and the equipment are fully designed for the welding program. That includes the installation of a 17,600 CFM Airex Smoke Collector. That unit will need to come in pieces on a tractor-trailer. After it’s delivered, Leibold will handle assembly and installation.
“We have put in smoke collectors before, but this is a particularly large unit,” Albrecht shares.
Leibold will also install 20 Henlex Source Capture welding arms, one Airex downdraft table, two AAON rooftop units comprising of 6,500 CFM, six Cook exhaust fans and four Industrial Maid ambient air cleaners.Leibold recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, building on its reputation for HVAC installation and maintenance work for commercial and industrial buildings, process piping, and custom metal duct work.
Albrecht says that what makes this project so exciting is playing a role in the RMCTC’s goal of furthering these trade careers.
“We are excited that RMCTC has a need to grow and that we can be a part of creating solutions for them,” she says. “The construction industry as a whole is struggling to find skilled professionals, and it is wonderful to see that so many students are interested in career and technology fields. These are our future workers and leaders.”