By Laura Douglass, The Pilot
A new scholarship award has opened the door for active-duty military and veterans to receive workforce training at Sandhills Community College.
Through a gift from the Gene Haas Foundation, 15 students from Fort Bragg have enrolled in CNC Machining classes in the college’s Advanced Manufacturing program.
“Veterans typically receive funding that will assist in degree seeking programs. However, funds are not currently available for Continuing Education short-term, affordable, workforce training – training that, quite often, is attractive to our active and transitioning military,” said Andi Korte, vice president for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Sandhills Community College. “The awards for this grant money will allow these service men or women to get the training they need.”
U.S. Army officer Kennard Youngs oversees a welding and machine shop at Fort Bragg. During a recent education fair held on post, he approached SCC staff Jason Levister and Belinda McFerrin. He explained to them his shop would be converting to computer numeric control (CNC) machines in the near future.
“Our employees have never received formal training on CNC machining operation, and they need this training by Oct. 1,” Youngs said.
Levister and McFerrin took that information back to Sandhills and met with Ronnie Patton, senior director of Customized Training & Advanced Manufacturing.
Having just received notice of scholarship funds from the Gene Haas Foundation for students pursuing machining skills, Patton immediately began working on a plan to help this effort move forward.
“Criteria for the machining scholarships were established with a preference for military service, and now those funds can be used to help the seven employees with this necessary upskilling effort,” Patton said. “Upskilling our military is one of the most honorable things we can do.”
“We are happy to assist students with their training needs. Addressing the current skills gap is a major concern of the Gene Haas Foundation, and we are honored to help,” said Steven Price, HAAS Specialist with Phillips Corporation.
On Wednesday, Sandhills Community College presented the Gene Haas Foundation scholarships to those military students participating in the class during a signing ceremony. A brief preview of the machinery followed in the Palmer Advanced Manufacturing Center, a state-of-the-art training facility funded by the Golden Leaf Foundation, Duke Energy, and The Palmer Foundation. “We feel fortunate to have this opportunity and want to thank Sandhills Community College and particularly all of those who are here today,” said Youngs.
For more information about Advanced Manufacturing, trades programs or specific industry needs at Sandhills Community College, contact Ronnie Patton at (910) 695-3925.