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Staff Contact:

Kimberly Buck

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Public Relations

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Haas Center

Local Higher Education Institutions, School Systems Awarded GO Virginia Grant

 

(February 23, 2018)  – A Southern Virginia economic development and education partnership has been awarded a $648,000 state grant to prepare local students for high-growth careers in information technology, advanced manufacturing, and related fields.

The Go-TEC (Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers) collaborative was one of nine regional projects announced last week by Governor Ralph Northam to receive funding through GO Virginia (Growth and Opportunity for Virginia). It was the only project chosen for funding in Region 3, which includes the cities of Danville and Martinsville; and the counties of Pittsylvania, Halifax, Henry, Patrick, Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward. These grants are for “projects that each region identified as vital to their efforts to diversify the regional economy, strengthen their workforce, and support collaborative programs between localities, public entities, and private businesses,” according to a release from the governor’s office.

Go-TEC is a partnership between higher education centers in Pittsylvania, Halifax, and Henry counties and the K-12 school systems in their service areas: Danville Community College, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Southside Virginia Community College, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, Patrick Henry Community College, and the New College Institute.
 
The grant will build on existing high-tech programs at the college level while giving younger students more hands-on exposure to these in-demand career pathways starting in middle school. Areas of focus are precision machining; welding; information technology and cybersecurity; robotics, automation, and mechatronics; and advanced materials.

“This is a win-win for students, workers, and industry in our region,” said DCC President Dr. Bruce Scism. “Go-TEC focuses on career areas that are growing across Virginia and provide higher-than-average salaries. However, students may not know these jobs exist, or how to prepare for them, as they are making decisions about their future.”

Danville City Schools and Pittsylvania County Schools will serve as pilot sites for new Go-TEC career exploration labs outfitted with equipment to explore welding, robotics, and precision machining, as well as computer technology to introduce middle school students to topics like networking, cybersecurity, and programming. By building awareness in grades six through eight, students interested in these fields will be able to choose relevant high school courses and dual enrollment pathways to prepare for these careers. Following high school, graduates may continue their education in programs such as the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing in Henry County or the mechatronics program in Halifax County.

The goal is to develop a “highly skilled workforce that will attract new business,” Scism said. “It will also provide more options for local graduates to further their education and find well-paying careers without leaving the area.”

The project is modeled after the successful precision machining education pipeline in Danville/Pittsylvania County. Starting in high school, Danville and Pittsylvania County students can earn more than 40 college credits in precision machining at no cost to them through the dual enrollment partnership with DCC. Students may choose to join the workforce as entry-level technicians after high school or increase their employability by continuing at DCC, earning a diploma in precision machining with just one additional year of study. Graduates can then further develop their skills and prepare for higher paying management positions with seven months of advanced-level training at the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining, which is a partnership between DCC and the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research.

Go-TEC will build on this concept to further develop the region’s K-12 offerings in information technology, advanced manufacturing and materials, expanding the pipeline of students training for careers in these areas. In addition to equipment, the grant will fund a Go-TEC trainer who will work with middle and high school teachers on use of the lab technology, and the development of a career exploration curriculum that can be used by school systems across the state.

For more information about Danville Community College, visit www.danville.edu or call 434-797-2222.

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