Clark State Community College will begin offering a series of Advanced Manufacturing Certificates this fall via a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program Grant from the United States Department of Labor. The $2.5 million competitive grant will focus on five areas of advanced manufacturing: industrial maintenance, CNC operations, additive manufacturing, welding and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).
“We are focusing on high-tech manufacturing such as 3-D printing and cybersecurity, as well as the more traditional areas like machining and welding,” said Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin. “We have listened to regional employers and responded to their articulated needs, which is what Clark State does.”
Grant Project Manager Mary Benedict said the goal is to get people into the workforce quickly. Students will be able to complete their certificate program in two semesters, and courses will include contextualized learning which embeds basic skills into the curriculum.
Benedict said the grant is a culmination of two things: creating new or revising current curriculum and purchasing equipment to support them. The advanced manufacturing programs will feature state-of-the-art learning equipment including 3-D printers, CNC machines and even a virtual welder.
“Rather than using up raw materials in the lab, you wear virtual-reality glasses and get an instrument that shows you in real-time how you are welding,” said Benedict. “Then we can project the progress of the student on a screen so the class can assess how well they are welding.”
Benedict said a career navigator will help recruit and coach students as they go through the program and an Employee Engagement Team – comprised of employers from Clark, Champaign and Greene counties – has also been developed. The team will be involved in developing the curriculum and offering expertise. “Once we get buy-in from the employers, that is really going to help us with program sustainability,” said Benedict. “They will also hopefully be hiring our graduates.”
Stackable Certificates are available for students who want to continue on to earn an associate’s degree, and Benedict encourages those who are interested to attend an informational session. “There are employers very interested in this being successful, and they want to be a part of it and are willing to give their time and energy towards it,” said Benedict. “This is a very good opportunity for students to be involved in a training program that has meaning, and they will obtain very employable skills.”