MSI and Virginia Western announce new manufacturing skills partnership

The Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI), the workforce development affiliate of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, announced today at the Dream It Do It Virginia Symposium that nine community colleges will be designated as authorized MSI Assessment Centers: Virginia Western Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, Community College Workforce Alliance (John Tyler Community College and J. Sargent Reynolds Community College), Mountain Empire Community College, Southside Virginia Community College, Tidewater Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College and Virginia Highlands Community College.

The new MSI Assessment Centers will expand credentialing opportunities for Virginians to demonstrate skills to close the workforce skills gap. The initial focus of the partnership will be to expand the MSI Manufacturing Technician 1 (MT1) certificate program as a baseline credential for Virginia’s 6,000 manufacturers as well as integrating it into degree pathways and dual enrollment opportunities so that the emerging workforce has the 12 critical technical skills that are fundamental to occupations in advanced technology industries.

The system office of Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) has been integral in this development. The VCCS recently provided support to local community colleges wishing to pursue MSI training and Assessment Center status. This investment from the VCCS has enabled Virginia’s community colleges to further enhance students’ pursuit of industry credentials to prepare them for modern manufacturing.

“The MT1 certification can be a launching pad for individuals across Virginia,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois. “This holds the potential to be a stackable credential that helps a person on his or her pathway to a specific career within the manufacturing field, like welding, metal working or mechatronics. And it’s one more step away from that ‘bachelor’s or bust’ mindset that can prevent people from promising opportunities in high-demand career areas.”

This announcement is part of an aggressive move to expand the MT1 certificate program into community colleges and educational partners across the United States. The MT1 is part of the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications System and is approved by the Virginia Board of Education for high school use. The MT1 has also been approved for use by Workforce Investment Boards for special populations and veterans wishing to improve their manufacturing skills.

“We are excited to work with the MSI to provide opportunities for this certification for our students,” said Virginia Western mechatronics program head Dan Horine. “Having real-world transferable skills is invaluable for them as they seek to build strong careers in the Roanoke Region.”

“We knew in 2007 that manufacturers would have a skills gap of approximately 11,000 people a year. We also knew that the largest need was in the Manufacturing Technician occupation and 96% of manufacturers wanted people with these applied and measurable skills. Although the economic challenges of the last few years slowed demand, it is back and we need to move quickly and this partnership between MSI and Virginia’s community colleges will help close the skills gaps for manufacturers” said Brett Vassey, VMA President & CEO.

The new community college based MSI Assessment Centers will be joining ECPI University, which has six MSI Assessment Centers across the Commonwealth, as well as the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in offering MT1 resources. MSI’s next MT1 Train-the-Trainer Course for community college instructors begins October 20 in Richmond, Virginia.

Posted on October 16, 2014 in Announcements | Permalink

Virginia Western to offer students greater STEM opportunities through NASA grant

Virginia Western Community College students pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields have access to new scholarships, research experiences, internships and courses thanks to a NASA grant awarded to the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

STEM Takes Flight logoThe Consortium’s newly announced program, STEM Takes Flight at Virginia’s Community Colleges, is designed to provide scholarships as well as real-world work and research experiences that foster community college retention in STEM academic tracks through graduation with an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year institution. Faculty professional development is also offered. The STEM Takes Flight website at www.vsgc.odu.edu/stemtakesflight provides detailed information on all program components described below and links to applications.

STEM Takes Flight at Virginia’s Community Colleges partners include: the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), Eastern Shore Community College, Virginia Western Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, NASA Langley Research Center and NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

“We are thrilled that Virginia Western students are going to have an opportunity to work with NASA and gain valuable experience in the STEM fields,” said David Webb, a mechanical engineering technology professor who is heading the college’s involvement. “They will get to see the real-world applications of their education and will have a chance to give back in the form of service learning.”

A system-wide online course led by Virginia Western and Thomas Nelson Community Colleges will allow faculty-led student teams to tackle the issue of sea level rise and its impact on coastal communities and ecosystems. A service-learning component will bring them to NASA Wallops where they will use geospatial technology and a review of the historical data to study the impact at NASA Wallops. The Old Dominion University’s Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI) will advise the teams and provide webinars on the science of sea level rise.

The Community College Bridge Scholar (CCBS) component will provide a $5000 award and mentoring to 15 students during the spring 2015 semester and 2015 – 2016 academic year. Freshmen students can apply in fall semester 2014 with applications due November 17. CCBS will help bridge students to next steps in higher education or employment through coaching and mentoring by VSGC staff, four-year college faculty, and by upper classmen.

Through the Build/Fly/Learn component, selected students will work in teams to undertake hands-on paid summer research projects at NASA Langley Research Center. Individual paid student summer research projects at NASA Langley Research Center and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility will also be offered.

These opportunities will be open to a total of 38 community college students who have completed their freshman year and are rising sophomores or in their sophomore year at the time of the research experience.

Ten students will receive grant-sponsored internships through the Consortium’s Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship Program. The program is already open to community college students; however, the additional sponsored funding will increase the number of community college students who can be placed. This aspect of the STEM Takes Flight program seeks to reinforce the value of community college students to employers and increase their retention.

Community college faculty will benefit from the STEM Takes Flight program through a residential professional development workshop in STEM disciplines, scheduled to take place at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in early June 2015. The workshop will focus on the integration of STEM in the NASA workplace. Twenty faculty participants will experience a hands-on case study that will assist them in educating their students about the importance of team work, technical skills and problem solving.

Two additional new courses will be offered. Two multi-disciplinary courses designed to engage community college students in mission development and planning will be available through Eastern Shore Community College. Students will develop and fly a sounding rocket payload as part of RockSat-C, a student flight opportunity at NASA Wallops in summer 2016.

The initiative also has the support of Governor Terry McAuliffe. “The initiative includes an excellent collection of STEM programs,” he notes. “The goals align with those of my administration to support STEM education and workforce training for Virginia students.”

VCCS Chancellor Glenn Dubois states, “Providing paid real-world work and research experiences for students, scholarship support, and faculty professional development that can bring the excitement of NASA missions and interdisciplinary teamwork into the classroom are worthwhile and impactful opportunities which I heartily support.”

The NASA grant provides $500,000 in funding for a two-year award period. The Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC), which is celebrating its 25th year, is a coalition of the Virginia Community College System, five Virginia colleges and universities, NASA, state educational agencies and other institutions representing diverse STEM and aerospace education, research and workforce development interests.

VSGC affiliate members include: Virginia Community College System; College of William and Mary, Hampton University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, NASA Langley Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, Science Museum of Virginia, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Virginia Department of Education, MathScience Innovation Center, Virginia Air and Space Center, and Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology.

Posted on October 10, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Human Trafficking Public Forum on 10/28

Please join elected officials, law enforcement personnel and victims for an important free public forum: The Face of Human Trafficking.

Date: Tuesday, 10/28/2014

Time: 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Location: Virginia Western Community College Whitman Theater
Registration: By October 24, 2014 at www.streetevent.org.


Opening speaker:

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.: Congressman Bob Goodlatte


8:45 - 9:30 a.m.: Deanna Wallace – Homeland Security Investigations, DC Office and Andrew Kondisko – Homeland Security Investigations – Resident in Charge of Harrisonburg Office

9:30 – 10 a.m.: Tanya Street – prior Human Trafficking Victim


10:15 - 11 a.m.: Erin Kulpa – Assistant US Attorney & Community Outreach Coordinator

Speakers that will relay information pertaining to local movement in Human Trafficking:
11 – 11:15 a.m.: Gary Clore – Manager, Gang Unit, Department of Corrections
11:15 - 11:30 a.m.: Sgt. William Drake – Roanoke City Police Department

Special presentation regarding the William Douglas Foundation
11:30 - 11:45 a.m.: Christy Spencer – Teacher at William Byrd High School, which received the William Douglas Foundation grant

Question & Answer Panel speakers include:
Keith Farmer - Straight Street
Tanya Street – Human Trafficking Victim
Christy Spencer - Teacher, William Byrd High School
Deanna Wallace – Homeland Security Investigations
Gary Clore - Department of Corrections
Sgt. Drake - Roanoke City Police Department
Erin Kulpa – Assistant U.S. Attorney
Bryan Alphin – Public Affairs Liaison, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Committee

Closing Speaker:
12:15 – 12:30 p.m.: Judge Philip Trompeter – 23rd District Juvenile Court

Posted on September 29, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Sign up now for non-credit cooking classes starting in October

The Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program at Virginia Western will again offer popular non-credit cooking classes to the public. All classes meet on a Saturday from Noon-4 p.m. at the kitchen within the Claude Moore Complex: 109 N. Henry Street, NW, Roanoke (behind the Roanoke Higher Education Center). Cost is $50 per class payable same day as registering.

Available classes include:

  • Cooking with Beer (Class #71815) - 10/11/14
  • Bread Basics-What is Gluten? (Class #71826) - 11/8/14
  • Dinner for Two-Basic Cooking Skills (Class #71830) - 11/22/14
  • Gluten-Free Cooking (Class #71833 ) - 12/6/14

To register, complete the free-of-charge online application at https://apply.vccs.edu/oa/launch.action. If you have any problems with applying, call the Admissions Office at 540-857-7231 (press 9).
NOTE: Do not declare a major when completing the application. Indicate that you are a transient (non-degree seeking) student. Questions? Call School of Business, Technology and Trades at (540) 857-7272.

Posted on September 26, 2014 in Classes | Permalink

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