(WRCB/AP) – The Wacker Institute, a pilot plant and training facility at Chattanooga State Community College, officially opened to the public Wednesday.

The $5 million institute has been described as a world-class science lab that will be part of the engineering technology division at the college.

Chattanooga State President Jim Catanzaro calls it the "largest most advanced chemical training plant in United States."

"A monumental task under critical deadlines," Catanzaro calls the process of transforming a warehouse to a laboratory in seven months.

The new facility will be used to prepare students for the fast-growing photovoltaics industry and a Wacker plant in nearby Charleston.

Wacker Polysilicon, a partner in the institute, is a leader in the production of hyperpure polycrystalline silicon. Its $1.5 billion plant in Charleston is scheduled for completion in late 2013 with some 650 full-time workers.

Wacker Human Resources Dr. Erika Burk says they "need a sophisticated workforce."

She adds the partnership ensures employees fully-trained and ready to work.

The Wacker Institute will offer Associate degree programs in Engineering Technology (Chemical) and Industrial Systems/Electromechanical Technology.

Wacker CEO Dr. Ingomar Kovar calls it a "unique process [which] will allow students to test theories in simulations," and offer practical experience prior to working in the plant.

 To apply for a career at Wacker, visit their website www.wacker.com/careers