Monday, August 5, 2013

Westmoreland Community College Near Pittsburgh Opening Advanced Technology Center in Former Sony Plant

Westmoreland County Community College recently broke ground for its new Advanced Technology Center at RIDC-Westmoreland in East Huntingdon, formerly the location of Sony's television plant and Volkswagen's auto assembly plant.

“Our Advanced Technology Center will provide affordable, state-of-the-art education and training to prepare WCCC students and incumbent workers for in-demand, technically oriented careers,” said WCCC President Daniel J. Obara.

The ATC will offer programs with an industry-driven curriculum in areas such as mechatronics, advanced and additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, energy, machining and fabrication, metrology and nanotechnology. Mechatronics is a design process that combines mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, control engineering and computer engineering.

Obara said the college’s current facilities and equipment has limited its ability to provide skilled technicians for the region’s manufacturers and energy industries.

“It will be a regional asset for flexible, collaborative, customized job training for the area’s manufacturing enterprises,” Obara said, providing an incentive for new employers to relocate to the RIDC and nearby industrial parks.

The Advanced Technology Center (ATC) will occupy 73,500 square feet at RIDC-Westmoreland to house workforce development programs currently located at the WCCC Youngwood Campus.

The ATC will continue the college’s work with career and technology centers, allowing high school students to advance their education by acquiring “stackable” credentials that prepare them for immediate employment and provide a foundation for future certifications and degrees.

For the new facility’s state-of-the-art equipment, WCCC received a $2 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation through the college’s Investing in Our Community campaign.

Gene P. Ciafre, campaign co-chair and WCCC trustee who announced the grant, said it was the largest gift ever received by the college.

Ciafre said the grant will “greatly advance not only the college but also the workforce training needs and economic growth of our region.”

The campaign also received a $300,000 grant from the Hillman Foundation for the ATC which was acknowledged by Bud Smail, Investing in Our Community campaign co-chair and a 27-year member of the WCCC Educational Foundation board of directors.

In addition to the Richard King Mellon and Hillman Foundation grants, other funding sources for the project include a bond issue authorized by the Westmoreland County commissioners, a Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, several U.S. Department of Labor grants for energy education and training, the college’s capital budget and private donors through the Investing in Our Community campaign.

The college anticipates the Advanced Technology Center will be completed and open for fall 2014 classes.

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