West Hills awarded National Science Grant for Firebaugh campus

From West Hills College

West Hills College Coalinga has earned a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, which will be used to bring an advanced welding program to Firebaugh in 2018.

The new pilot program, called Welding Education Distance Community Outreach (WELDCO), will be offered at WHCC’s North District Center in Firebaugh and will give students the opportunity to learn how to weld and work toward an American Welding Society professional certificate and a WHCC Welding Technology Certificate of Achievement. Earning these certificates could give students the opportunity to land jobs in Agriculture and Food Processing, infrastructure, petroleum production, machinery maintenance and more.

“We are very grateful for the funding that makes the WELDCO program possible and excited about the opportunity it provides to expand our welding training to the Firebaugh community,” said Dr. Tim Ellsworth, Agriculture Science and Technology Instructor at WHCC. “This pilot program will incorporate online lecture delivery with virtual welding technology to enable training of students at NDC without the need for extensive infrastructure and equipment purchases. A similar student cohort in Coalinga will provide the basis for educational research and allow us to evaluate and further develop the pilot program.”

Developed in part to meet industry need for certified welders in the Firebaugh area, the course will use the latest technology to engage students and give NDC students a full educational experience in Firebaugh, where funds and space for this type of training is typically limited.

The class will blend online and in person learning: students will receive lectures and virtual training online while also practicing welding on a welding trailer alongside an adjunct instructor on weekends.

The success of this grant award is an outcome of working collaboratively with Science Foundation Arizona through the KickStarter Process under National Science Foundation under Grant No. HRD-1450661. WHCC has been working with the Science Foundation Arizona since 2015 to position itself to compete for funding from the NSF. It was one of only six community colleges in the country awarded the opportunity to work with the Foundation.

“NSF grants are very difficult to earn and they provide great educational resource opportunities for our students,” said Anita Wright, Director of Grants for the West Hills Community College District. “We’re looking forward to how this grant will deeply enrich our students’ learning experience.”

The first group of students will participate in the program from Spring 2018 to Fall 2018.


Comments powered by Disqus