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Rowan-Cabarrus gets advanced machining grant

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has been awarded a grant of nearly a half million dollars for job training in advanced machining.

The college announced its latest grant award Monday at its January board meeting.

Rowan-Cabarrus will receive $491,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation to train individuals in advanced machining through the college’s Computer-Integrated Machining Technology program.

Mark Sorells, senior vice president of the Golden LEAF Foundation, attended Monday’s meeting.

“The investment from the Golden LEAF Mid-Skills Workforce Training Initiative will have a long-term impact on students’ educational and workplace success in the advanced machining field,” said Dr. Rod Townley, vice president of academic programs.

Among the local employers who supported the college in their effort to receive this grant are Roush Yates Racing Engines, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Atlas Signs, Martin Marietta Materials and Stewart-Haas Racing. Seventeen letters of support from local business and industry partners were submitted as part of the grant proposal.

“I am so proud of the initiative shown by the Computer-Integrated Machining Technology program,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “We could never afford the equipment through our normal public funding channels. Unfortunately, without modern equipment, our machining program would sit stagnant.”

According to Golden LEAF, many firms across the state and nation report having difficulty finding workers with the pre-requisite skills necessary for employment in advanced manufacturing. Recent reports have highlighted the mid-skills gap that exists across the country and the need to take advantage of the emerging trend of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

“Right now, our equipment for the machining program isn’t up-to-speed with the industry. In order to ensure that our students get the best practical training possible, we need them to work on the same equipment that is used in these companies,” said Jason Hill, instructor in Computer-Integrated Machining Technology and project director for the new grant. “You can’t just talk about these skills — students need to actually perform them in a simulated environment.”

To assist the state with job creation and address the skills gap that companies are struggling to overcome in hiring qualified workers with the technical skills required in advanced manufacturing, the Golden LEAF Foundation designed a competitive grants program in partnership with the NC Community College System.

In addition to the college’s primary service area, the Computer-Integrated Machining Technology program will supply graduates to companies in Iredell and Stanly counties, as the community colleges in those counties do not have dedicated machining programs.

A core component of the project involves partnering with the three local public school systems.

“Rowan-Salisbury Schools will continue to support the college as it expands its specialized training for specific skill sets needed in today’s workplace, provides more short-term certificate and diploma offerings, and enhances the two-year degree program,” stated Dr. Judy Grissom, superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury School System, in her letter of support. “These program improvements will ensure that our students are well-prepared for future employment.”

The grant allows for several opportunities for juniors and seniors in high school. The state’s Career and College Promise (CCP) initiative provides a focused means for students to begin completion of college transfer credits or career training prior to their graduation from high school. Courses under Career and College Promise are offered to high school students with no charge for tuition.

The successful completion of the Machining CCP pathway will lead to four Rowan-Cabarrus certificates and twelve industry certifications (National Institute for Metalworking Skills and MasterCam). Students will receive hands-on skills and certifications that could lead to entry-level employment or provide them with all but five courses toward a Computer-Integrated Machining Technology diploma from Rowan-Cabarrus.

All courses will be transferable if a student chooses to continue and obtain an associate’s degree. Rowan-Cabarrus has established an articulation agreement with Eastern Carolina University (on-campus or online) to transfer the associate’s degree into a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology.

The partnership includes Computer-Integrated Machining Technology Summer Academies for high school students. The academies will expose students to advanced machining and manufacturing practices, along with applications of machining in other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Participants will complete hands-on takeaway projects and leave with an understanding of the career opportunities available in the advanced machining field.

The grant includes expansion of the internship/co-op portion of the training that will help students obtain employment more quickly by providing hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

The updated machine shop and equipment will be in place and ready for the fall semester.

“If you have any interest in this field, the time is now. Come talk with our instructors and begin the process,” said Townley.

For more information about the program or grant, please contact Jason Hill (704-216-3933, Jason.hill@rccc.edu). For additional information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).


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