Gene Haas Foundation Awards IALR/DCC $1 Million Endowment
As construction of a workflow cell training lab nears completion at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), the Gene Haas Foundation recently announced award of a $1 million endowment to support the new workforce training initiative.
The flow cell is part of the Capstone Integrated Machining Technology (IMT) project being developed through a partnership between the IALR and Danville Community College (DCC).
The Capstone flow cell learning experience provides students the opportunity to train in an authentic manufacturing workflow cell, a unique concept being implemented for the first time in America through the IALR/DCC partnership.
The coursework is presented as a “Capstone” third-year level of learning for students completing DCC’s Precision Machining Technology two-year degree program. Students will be able to earn valuable nationally recognized industry credentials, building upon the Level I competencies taught in DCC’s coursework to enable students at the IALR to earn Level II and Level III certifications from such esteemed organizations as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). These certifications verify an employee’s competency in the various skills that today’s advanced manufacturing employers are seeking in new hires and existing employees.
IALR Executive Director Jerry Gwaltney stated that the Institute is grateful for the support the project has received thus far, noting that Haas has been a leading industry partner.
“Haas Automation and the Gene Haas Foundation have been extremely generous throughout all phases of project development and implementation,” Gwaltney said. “In addition to this $1 million endowment, Haas Automation has also provided $650,000 worth of high-end training equipment, and has committed to upgrading the equipment every two years. This level of industry support ensures that the workers and potential workers in Southern Virginia are among the best trained in the world. That’s what today’s employers are looking for.”
Gene Haas Foundation Administrator Kathy Looman noted that the Haas Foundation is eager to support high-end training programs such as the IALR/DCC partnership, because such efforts address an urgent need for highly skilled advanced manufacturing workers.
“In the latest numbers, 318,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers,” Looman said. “That number is growing, as so many people employed in this industry are baby boomers who are retiring. Manufacturing is a very promising industry that is vital to the U.S. and global economy. It offers high-paying, clean technology careers. Efforts to help grow a local, qualified workforce are a win-win for young people seeking career paths, and local manufacturers who need qualified workers.”
DCC President Bruce Scism agreed. “This is a program that is going to bring the Danville region national recognition from employers and educators alike,” he said. “DCC’s Precision Machining Technology program is now the largest in the mid-Atlantic region, and it’s the only one that provides as wide a range of certification options. The fact that the IALR’s Capstone program offers credentialing opportunities at even higher levels than DCC is just icing on the cake for Southern Virginia residents looking to land lucrative jobs on rewarding long-term career pathways.”
Only a year into expansion of DCC’s Precision Machining Technology program, the college is graduating a record number of certification-ready students. For example, of the 272 NIMS credentials that were awarded throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2014, 96 of them – a full one-third of all credentials earned in Virginia – went to DCC machining students.
“With support from industry partners like the Gene Haas Foundation,” Scism added, “that number will soon be doubling, and even tripling.”
The Gene Haas Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Haas Automation, a world-class CNC machine tool manufacturer. Gene Haas is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, a Sprint Cup team co-owned with three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.