Company working on new World Trade Center training at ACC

ALPENA – Instructors at the World Center for Concrete Technology have been teaching advanced electronic controls and troubleshooting to employees from the Superior Block Corporation of Brooklyn, N.Y., which is contracted to make concrete masonry products for the new World Trade Center in New York City. There are seven employees from the corporation participating in the five-day certificate course offered through Besser Co. in the WCCT building on the Alpena Community College campus.

“This is where the industrial world and the academic world come together,” Besser Co. training specialist Jeff Oliver said. “Besser partnered with the WCCT and with ACC to offer specialized training only available right here in Alpena. Besser donated a complete, fully computerized production plant to the WCCT building to help customers and employees learn to trouble shoot, along with learning and research.”

The group is studying programmable logic controllers, which control the equipment used to manufacture multiple types of concrete blocks, like the blocks for the new World Trade Center, which must be able to withstand over 6,000 pounds per square inch. This allows for the height of the building – over 100 stories – to be supported properly. Superior Block Corp. also is helping reconstruct areas effected by Hurricane Sandy.

“These men are experienced machine operators who are learning to troubleshoot to increase production and decrease down time for their plant,” Don MacMaster, director of the WCCT and dean of workforce development at ACC, said. “Construction is a multi-million dollar business. Training employees is an investment in advanced productivity.”

“These blockmaker seminars have been going on for more than 30 years,” MacMaster said. “We offer a world-class training facility, geared toward a niche.”

This is the second time this group of Superior Block employees has been to the WCCT in Alpena, the first was over a month ago for machine adjustment training.

“They shut down their entire plant to get training here from ACC,” Oliver said.

According to employee Jerome Singh, they have three Besser machines at their plant they use to mass produce all types of blocks.

To receive an individual certificate from their training, they must each pass an assessment at the end of the course. The training also counts as two college credits from ACC.

“What I learn here is invaluable; I can take it with me everywhere I go,” Superior Block employee Ferdinand Oquendo said.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.