Thursday, October 10, 2013

ARC Grant Funds More Welding Booths at Industrial Technology Center

CONTACT:  PAUL PHELPS, 646-1405 or
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            10/10/2013
                                                                                               (By Lisa Garrett)

            SANDY SPRINGS --  A $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will add 24 new welding booths and equipment at Tri-County Technical College's Industrial Technology Center (ITC), allowing the College to expand enrollment in one of its fastest-growing technical programs.

             "Our total enrollment for the Welding program is 120 students total between day and evening," said Paul Phelps, welding program coordinator.  "This grant will allow us to expand our program to accept 48 more students and funding to purchase most of the welding equipment needed for instruction. Matching funds will supply the remainder of the welding equipment and all installation costs, including special ventilation and piping of the potentially hazardous gasses."

            Until the ITC opened in spring of 2013, enrollment was limited to the number of welding booths at the Pendleton Campus and students weren't able to take classes that accommodated their varying schedules, he said.  "There were 34 welding booths at Pendleton.  We couldn't meet industry's demand for skilled welders.  In the new facility, there are 48 booths and this grant gives us the capacity for 72 booths by next semester," he said.

            "We appreciate the ARC funding.  Individual weld booths and equipment are essential for each student.  This program is very hands on and reliant on equipment -- we need more than a desk and a chair," Phelps said.

            "This facility, along with the expansion, gives students better scheduling options.  At Pendleton we were at capacity and therefore had limited scheduling options.  Now we can offer more class sections at desired times.  Now there are options for everyone," he said.

            In addition, one lab at the ITC will serve participants in the SC ACCELERATE program, a fast track educational and career pathway for adults.  "This program, geared toward helping unemployed, underemployed, and dislocated adult workers to find a new career in welding and Computer Numeric Control, allows our two-year Welding curriculum to be condensed to one year through double time in the labs," he said. 

            "Adding 24 new welding booths to the Industrial Technology Center will significantly increase our capacity to train welders for existing industry and will help increase our overall ability to provide a highly trained industrial workforce," said John Lummus, vice president for economic and institutional advancement at the College.  "This expansion also will be a great addition to the economic development capability of our region."

            Phelps expressed his thanks to ARC funding for the expansion, as well as companies who have supported the program.  "It's been phenomenal the support we have received from the College, as well as donations from companies and the community.  Because of it, our students are better equipped for the workplace.  Two new companies, McLaughlin Body Works and SMF, recently located in this area, giving our graduates more job placement opportunities.  The companies have been very open about this facility being the deciding factor, the reason they came to Anderson County."


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