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National Science Foundation Awards NFCC $187,267 Grant to Build Manufacturing Certification Dual Enrollment Program for Community

MADISON, FL – North Florida Community College has received a three-year, $187,267 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an advanced manufacturing dual enrollment program in Madison County. The project will open new career pathways for local high schools and is designed to lead students successfully from high school to NFCC, and then to either higher education or employment in the advanced manufacturing sector.

The specific needs of rural high school students and manufacturing companies in the North Florida area were taken into consideration when developing the project. Goals are to recruit and provide training for underrepresented, rural, first-generation in college and minority high school students, and to graduate those students from the NFCC Automation and Production Technology course with strong soft skills and successful completion of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential.     

NFCC has the commitment of industry partners to provide program support including tours of manufacturing facilities, guest speakers and content lecturers, mock interviews, and hiring opportunities to students who successfully complete the program. Summer workshops in robotics, 3D printing and SOLIDWORKS design software are planned to help recruit qualified high school students into the program.
“It is exciting to have the support of the Madison County School District,” said David Dunkle, Associate Dean of Economic Development and Technical programs. “The school district has been involved since very early on in this project’s development. Ms. Heather Johnson and Ms. Andrea Krell, both of whom teach in the school district, have brought students on tours through the program, been involved with the program advisory board, and will be participating in many aspects of this project. It is great to see the level of cooperation and synergy that has developed between the school district, local industry, and the College; and this is only the beginning.”
With collaboration across the high school, college and industry platforms, NFCC is dedicated to adequately preparing the next generation of qualified and skilled manufacturing and engineering technicians for jobs in advanced manufacturing. Ultimate success will see graduates securing employment and industry certification so they can support themselves and their families, and contribute to the growth and prosperity of the community.
The MSSC CPT certification will translate into 15 credit hours toward NFCC’s developing Associate in Science Degree in Engineering Technology or elsewhere in the Florida College System, providing a pathway to a baccalaureate degree and higher skilled employment opportunities for students.
According to program instructor Bill Eustace, the Automation and Production Technology program at NFCC has high pass rates related to MSSC certification, and a high percentage of graduates finding employment. “With the success of the program thus far I can see a direct pathway to employment or continued education for high school students looking to fast track into a working career or to start a degree program with the 15 credit hours afforded them through the MSSC-CPT,” said Eustace. The program is continuously growing. This year, during NFCC’s Spring Term 2016, Eustace helped establish paid internships with industry partners for four students that turned into job offers.
Grant funding for the NSF grant begins June 1 and will span a three-year period, ending May 2019. Partial funding for this project was provided by the Advanced Technological Education program through NSF Award 1566545.
For more information, contact David Dunkle, NFCC Associate Dean Economic Development and Technical Programs, at 850-973-9440 or dunkled@nfcc.edu, and for program information related to the Automation and Production Technology program, contact the instructor, Bill Eustace at (850) 973-1670 or eustaceb@nfcc.edu.
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