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Martinsville Bulletin: Grant funding will help PHCC work with high school students

Martinsville Bulletin: Grant funding will help PHCC work with high school students

April 17, 2017

MARTINSVILLE–Any students interested in learning more about robotics, engineering or manufacturing got some help Monday from Patrick Henry Community College. School officials announced that a $179,000 grant they received from the National Science Foundation will be used to launch a dual-enrollment program for high school juniors and seniors looking for jobs in any of those fields.

The program will give students “a substantial head start” in pursuing careers, whether they plan to go to work soon after graduating from high school or earn a bachelor’s degree in a field involving engineering or manufacturing, according to Rhonda Hodges, the college’s vice president for workforce, economic and community development.

PHCC already offers several dual-enrollment programs, but it does not yet have anything specifically for applied engineering or manufacturing, said college spokeswoman Amanda Broome.

 Courses will include ones pertaining to mechatronics (mechanical electronics), robotics, engineering and hydraulics. Students will assemble electric guitars and learn how to program robots, Broome said.

Until now, such courses have not been available because of an immense amount of hands-on laboratory training needed to earn degrees and certificates necessary for careers in related fields, she said.

The grant will help along that line, Broome continued, because it will enable faculty members to undergo specialized training. It also will cover much of the needed start-up capital, she said.

Students will be able to take up to 30 credits in courses in the applied engineering field while in high school. They can then test for the Certified Production Technician national certification. They also will have finished 60 percent of the courses needed to obtain Siemens Mechatronics Industry Certification and an advanced film manufacturing career studies certificate, according to Broome.

In addition, they will need only 25 further credits to earn an associate’s degree in general engineering technology, she said.

Nationwide, employers consider such certifications and degrees to be critical for applied engineering jobs, she emphasized.

Classes will meet on PHCC’s main campus as well as in the college’s FabLab, which houses modern equipment such as universal laser cutters, three-dimensional printers and computer design software.

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