Polk State was one of 11 Florida College System institutions to receive funding from the DOL. Polk State’s award was part of $12.7 million awarded to the Southeastern Economic and Education Leadership Consortium, a partnership between six colleges in Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee focused on improving the skills and employment of individuals in manufacturing. The six community and state colleges have formed a unique and lasting partnership in order to improve education and training opportunities for TAA-eligible workers, veterans and long-term unemployed adults, but more lastingly, facilitate a permanent change in approach to serving employers, workers and the community at-large. The Southeastern Economic and Education Leadership Consortium (SEELC) will utilize the TAACCCT program as a means of systems change, whereby community colleges in a variety of diverse economic and demographic settings can serve as leaders in integrating regional economic and workforce development to improve the skills and employment of individuals, and in turn, foster a business growth climate that offers
more opportunities for all members of the community.
The College will use the grant funding to add a mechanical design and fabrication concentration to its Engineering Technology degree; currently the degree offers a specialization in Advanced Manufacturing. The grant will also support welding instruction at Traviss Career Center.
“There is a strong need for machinists in our community,” said Eric Roe, Ph.D., a driving force behind the implantation of the grant at Polk State. “With this funding, we will enhance our degree program, update curriculum, and purchase the most state-of-the-art equipment to train our students in computer numerically controlled — or CNC — milling and lathing, skills that are very much in demand among small and mid-sized manufacturers in Central Florida.”
The grant funding will also be used to purchase new equipment and software for Traviss’ welding program, again to address local demand for skilled welders.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to not only partner with Polk State,” said David Wiggs, assistant director of curriculum at Traviss. “But it’s a win, win, win because we get to purchase some needed capital items and help local businesses.”
Wiggs said the money will be used to replace older welding equipment with the most up-to-date equipment available. Traviss will also create tailored courses for area businesses who need their workers to learn or improve their skills in certain aspects of welding.
Roe added the College and Traviss are working to strengthen their articulation partnership, so that students who complete the welding program can more seamlessly transition to the College’s Engineering Technology degree.
The machining and welding curriculums will both be aligned with national standards, allowing students to earn certification from either the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and American Welding Society.
Polk State’s Engineering Technology associate’s degree prepares students for employment and provides additional training in advanced manufacturing and high- technology industries.