UNION COUNTY — A program at the Union County Career and Technology Center that helps prepare students for the manufacturing workplace of today got some help toward achieving that goal this week with the receipt of a $2,000 grant.
In a statement released Wednesday, UCCTC Director Kimberly Jones announced that Machine Tool Instructor Brad Whelchel had received a $2,000 grant from the Gene Haas Foundation.
Founded in 1999 by Gene Haas, owner of Haas Automation, the Gene Haas Foundation provides funding to support manufacturing education.
Jones and Whelchel said Thursday that the funds — which Whelchel applied for — will be used to support scholarships and NIMS credentialing for the UCCTC’s Machine Tool Program.
(NIMS credentials earned by students give them a competitive edge when applying for jobs because it means they have demonstrated that the skills they’ve acquired through programs like the UCCTC Machine Tool Program meet industry established standards. In addition, once obtained, NIMS credentials never expire.)
Whelchel said that the program teaches students the process of manufacturing including how to operate the different machines used by industry to produce a wide array of parts. He said that students who complete the program could go to work at local industries such as Timken, Santuc Precision, and Gestamp, as well as other manufacturers in other counties.
Jones welcomed the grant, saying that it is part of efforts by the UCCTC to obtain more funding to update the program and increase local career opportunities for the students.
“Basically what we’ve been trying to do this is year is apply for more grants and work with our local businesses and advisory committee to create more opportunities for students to have meaningful careers here in Union,” Jones said. “We’ve had to work on updating our program so that we are training them to be competitive in today’s workplace.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.