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Cincinnati State wins $2.75 million manufacturing training grant

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Cincinnati State a $2.75 million grant to expand its ability to provide training for manufacturing careers.

The college will use the money to establish a Greater Cincinnati Manufacturing Careers Accelerator (GCMCA). The accelerator will help provide regional manufacturers with a pool of potential employees trained in welding and CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) operations.

Weve been talking with our industry partners and listening carefully, said Cincinnati State President Odell M. Owens. This grant will help us not only add to our offerings in areas of particular interest to manufacturers, it will help us expand our reach by providing students with cutting edge workforce education.

The Greater Cincinnati Manufacturing Careers Accelerator will involve a collaboration between Cincinnati States Center for Innovative Technologies (an academic division housing engineering, computing and high tech programs) and its Evendale-based Workforce Development Center, which provides customized workforce training to employers as well as short-term, retail training programs for individuals. The GCMCAs goals include:

    Providing trade-impacted workers, veterans and other adults with comprehensive career/education assessments and accelerated programs for earning industry-recognized credentials involving potential manufacturing careers
    Increasing Cincinnati States capacity to provide specialized training through the acquisition of virtual welding systems and expansion of its CNC labs, as well as the addition of industrial welding and machine tool training supplies
    Building the Colleges capacity to jointly develop technical degree programs with 4-year colleges in the region
    Partnering with regional manufacturers to identify future workforce competencies and rapidly develop new training programs.

The GCMCA will develop curriculum and training as part of a latticed career pathway in manufacturing designed to lead to a variety of employment opportunities. These include CNC machine operator, welder (MIG/TIG), first line supervisor of production workers, mechanical engineering technician.

As part of this scope of work, the GCMCA and Cincinnati State will create two new credentials: AWS Welding and CNC Level 1 Certificates. Most participants will also be eligible to earn existing, nationally-recognized industry credentials such as the National Career Readiness Credential (NCRC) and the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Credential.

The federal grant project also anticipates the development of a system of Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) for participants. These will help identify learning gained outside of the traditional classroom through work, military service, or other activities for which an individual may be awarded college credit.

Much of the training offered through this grant program will be delivered through online or hybrid formats that is, online interactive learning with classroom and/or hands-on instruction. The hybrid format will be used in training for occupation-specific credentials, as well for courses making up the accelerated Associate of Applied Technology Specialist degrees.

Doug Bowling, Dean of the Center for Innovative Technology, said the use of virtual welding technology is part of a growing trend, with respect to training as well as the types of skills needed in a manufacturing environment where robots play an increasing role with such duties.

In a virtual welding class, students wear welding helmets with an integrated display that immerses them in a virtual environment. While holding the virtual welding gun, students practice technique and begin learning in a safe classroom environment.

This wont replace the real thing well also have a hands-on, six-station conventional welding station, Bowling said. Virtual welding will be integrated into the traditional welding program as an accelerator. It is highly effective at teaching students proper welding techniques, body position, gun positions, and travel speeds. It also increases students pace of progression while increasing the number of students who may be taught at one time.

Dr. Dennis Ulrich, Vice President for Workforce Development at Cincinnati State, said the grant will also allow the college to upgrade its CNC lab with the purchase of six CNC Certification trainers. These systems not only offer comprehensive hands-on training on the mills, but also allow for authentic part programming and operation simulation. Online exercises and homework can be assigned to help reinforce the material allowing for effective classroom laboratory instruction without sacrificing the important hands-on aspect of CNC training.

This is important, because it cuts the cost of training, while accelerating learning, Dr. Ulrich said. And accelerating learning, weve discovered, encourages retention.

The $2.75 million grant announced this week is part of the third round of Department of Labors Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Training (TAACCCT) training grants.

This marks the second time that Cincinnati State has received a TAACCCT grant. In 2011 it was named the lead college in a $19.6 million Round 1 grant to manage a national Health Pathways Consortium that helps prepare individuals for careers in the health care industry.

(One element of Cincinnati States Round 1 work has already been recognized as a best practice by the DOL: the Pathway to Employment Center, or PTEC. This center has been essential in recruiting eligible participants for the colleges Health Careers Pathways grant program, as well as working with the colleges academic divisions during training, and supporting students in job placement and employer engagement. The new grant program will replicate the PTEC concept to recruit, assess and support participant training in the manufacturing and welding activities.)

The new grant will begin October 1, 2013 and run through Sept. 30, 2017. For more information, contact Lawra J. Baumann, Ph.D., Director of Grant Administration, at lawra.baumann@cincinnatistate.edu or (513) 569-1233.

Information provided by Cincinnati State

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