College part of $10M grant

Published 7:27 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

LBW Community College is one of five colleges in a consortium that was awarded a multi-million dollar federal grant for a mobile welding and manufacturing technology project.

Of the $10.08 million U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant awarded, LBWCC’s portion for the three-year project totals more than $1.7 million.

The grant was approved for the project “Alabama/Florida Technical Employment Network (AF-TEN)” to develop a future workforce and to meet emerging technical needs. Other colleges in the consortium are Chipola College, Northwest Florida State College, Pensacola State College and Wallace Community College in Dothan.

AF-TEN identified the growing disconnect between the skills of available workers and the regional demand for employees with skills for advanced manufacturing jobs. Each school will share a portion of the award to implement the mobile welding technology program.

“We are proud to partner in the consortium and grateful for the federal grant funding,” said LBWCC President Dr. Herb Riedel. “Our goal is to produce a highly-skilled workforce to meet the needs of business and industry.”

The consortium project will utilize online/hybrid learning, mobile welding units, simulation technologies, and open education resources to expand learning opportunities, especially in rural areas and small towns where access to education is particularly challenging.

LBWCC’s portion will be used to purchase equipment and fund personnel, said Jimmy Hutto, associate dean of workforce development and adult education.

“We plan to purchase a mobile welding training unit, which will include six traditional welding stations and two virtual welding simulators,” he said.

“A portion of the funds will also be used to purchase four additional virtual welding simulators for the welding lab in Opp. The grant will also cover salaries and professional development for a welding instructor, electronics instructor, curriculum specialist and a career coach.”