Stuart, VA – A four-way partnership brings expanded community college offerings to Patrick County.
The Town of Stuart, Patrick Henry Community College, the PHCC Foundation, and the Patrick County Education Foundation are working together to bring industry training to Patrick County.
The partnership will allow the college to open an additional training space across the street from PHCC’s current Patrick County location and will allow the college to expand its offerings for Patrick County students.
“For a long time we have been hearing from many different sources – including the county, business leaders, and students – that workforce training and credentialing is critical for Patrick County residents,” says PHCC’s Vice President of Workforce, Economic and Community Development, Rhonda Hodges. “We are so excited about this partnership that will enable more Patrick County residents to have access to industry-growing and life-changing educational resources.”
With the new space, the college will be able to launch a Siemens mechatronics “boot camp” and develop a workforce flex space. The “boot camp” will train students in mechatronics (the integration of mechanical, electrical, industrial automation, and computer software) and prepare them to sit for an industry-required certification. With this “boot camp” model (which boasts a 100% credential pass rate for three years running), Patrick County students will be eligible to sit for the credential after just four courses. The course is also part of the Workforce Credential Grant program which means that eligible students would only pay one-third of the cost of the program.
Although the college is slated to conduct a portion of the renovations to the former Food Lion building in order to provide the necessary training space for these classes, PHCC plans to launch what college officials are calling “Phase One” of the mechatronics program this year. Students can sign up now for the first two mechatronics courses which will begin October 3. These classes will meet in the current PHCC building in Stuart with the goal of transitioning into the newly renovated facility sometime in 2018.
The final two classes of the mechatronics “boot camp,” slated to begin in early 2018, are more hands-on. These classes will allow students to begin learning on $300,000 worth of new mechatronics equipment that has been secured via a state grant specifically for this program. “This is a massive undertaking, that has the potential to provide so many students with a first-of-its-kind education for our county,” says retired banker and Patrick County resident Ron Haley who serves as a member of PCEF and board chair of the PHCC Foundation. He adds “More importantly, this space and this equipment will be used to prepare students to get the jobs that Patrick County industry leaders are looking to fill.”
“The college is developing the program and the renovation plans in close communication with us and with Patrick County industry leaders to ensure that the final product is a benefit to our citizens and our economy” notes Stuart Mayor Ray Weiland.
The funds for the renovations, equipment, and lease were provided through grants and via private donations with the help of the Patrick County Education Foundation. Students interested in the mechatronics “boot camp” should contact PHCC’s Workforce Development Department (276-694-8778 in Stuart/Patrick County or 276-656-0266 for all other locations) before September 30.