Huge grants given to library, WNC

Wesstern Nevada College and the Churchill County Library have received grants from the Governor's Office of Science, Innovation and Technology. The library's grant  will go toward technology.

Wesstern Nevada College and the Churchill County Library have received grants from the Governor's Office of Science, Innovation and Technology. The library's grant will go toward technology.

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Churchill County Library was awarded $46,322 to develop an Information Technology Gateway Training (ITGT) program for Churchill County and surrounding rural areas such as Gabbs and Austin.

This program will fill a critical need rural businesses have for home-grown entry-level IT talent while providing training to students unable to make the 130-mile round trip to Carson City for classes. The program will be based at the library and will use block scheduling to graduate students faster.

Groups will contain 10 students and will last six to eight weeks with up to 240 trainees per year. Courses will be taught by faculty from Western Nevada College. ITGT will prepare students for in-demand, industry-recognized certifications.

Churchill County School District trustees agreed in Janaury to pursuit involvement with the Challenge Grant to promote additional STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education.

Rachel Dahl, executive director of the Churchill Economic Development Authority, and Carol Lloyd, director of the Churchill County Library, said the training would certify students in four programs needed in today’s workforce: CISCO networking, CISCO security, Microsoft certification and web design. Classes will start this summer.

Dahl said anyone who qualifies to take classes could be employable with the certificate. Furtheremore, Dahl said this is a difficult time in hiring information technology employees.

“The surveys we have show the job demand is in the top 10,” she recently told the Churchill County School Board.

Meanwhile, Western Nevada College has also received a $142,000 STEM Workforce Challenge Grant to enhance its welding certificate and degree programs. The programs help meet the needs of the region’s advanced manufacturers.

The Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology (OSIT) announced last week its round 2 of grants to Nevada training providers throughout the state. Total awarded grant funding is $626,206.

“STEM workforce development is one of my top priorities,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval. “The education and training students receive in these programs will prepare them for high-wage, in-demand, careers in the new Nevada.”

According to WNC, the grant will allow purchase of a robotic welder and associated curriculum. WNC will use college resources to upgrade its facilities to accommodate the new program. The new curriculum and tools will teach students about metallurgy, the mathematics of welding, and how to program a robotic welder. Those who complete the program will be able to program KUKA and FANUC robots.

“WNC is thrilled with the announcement of additional funding to broaden our STEM instruction,” said Dr. Robert Wynegar, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at WNC.

A previous STEM grant to support Mechatronics at the Carson City campus, and a collaborative effort with the Churchill County Library to bring an Information Technology program to Fallon, are evidence of WNC’s continuing commitment to provide high quality technical education throughout WNC’s service area.

“The equipment and curriculum provided by this grant will support additional modernization in both our welding and Applied Industrial Technology programs.” he added.

WNC will offer two learning tracks — a traditional track delivered in a 16-week semester and an accelerated track that meets 24 hours per week. Together, the two tracks will accommodate up to 40 students. The first cohort will begin in fall 2016.

“Teaching welding now matters more than ever,” said Dr. Georgia White, director of WNC’s Career and Technical Education Division. “Automation and advanced technologies like robotics and plasma cutting require skilled workers.”

WNC’s welding program will offer curriculum from Lincoln Electric, a national leader in welding technology. Addition of a robotic welder will enhance our mechatronics program and provide subject matter integration for our students.

“These grants will create training programs that will help meet the workforce needs of Nevada’s STEM employers. As our economy modernizes, so too must the way we educate our workforce,” said OSIT Director Brian Mitchell.

Demand is far outpacing the supply,

“Jobs are there,” White added. “A new generation of students is waiting to be trained in the skilled trades.”

From manufacturing to construction, the demand for welders is strong. Salaries are also good, given that many jobs don’t require extensive education, White explained. Average wages are $17-25 an hour. Specialized certifications and supervisory roles offer higher earnings.

Steve Yingling provided information about WNC.


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