(Charlottesville, Va.) – Officials at Piedmont Virginia Community College announced this week that the college has been awarded a $438,964 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to enhance the college’s engineering technology offerings and to kick-start advanced manufacturing training and programming in Central Virginia.

According to Hunter Moore, assistant professor of engineering and electronics at PVCC and the faculty coordinator for the project, the new NSF grant will allow the college to enhance its engineering technology offerings to include an associate of applied science degree and a career studies certificate in advanced manufacturing, an enhancement that is needed in order to prepare students to work on current technology as well as the technology of the future.

“Obtaining this grant is huge for PVCC,” said Moore. “For students to stay competitive in today’s job market, they need to be trained in mechanical, electrical and computer science simultaneously. Most every machine involves a combination of all three of these fields in order to function, so students will need to have an excellent understanding of all three disciplines in order to install and maintain these machines.”

The three-year grant will fund state-of-the-art equipment purchases for a PVCC advanced manufacturing lab, a part-time program liaison to assist with student recruitment and retention, stipends for students internships and professional development opportunities for faculty. The project will also strengthen curriculum alignment with secondary institutions and help to expand the advanced manufacturing pathway from two- to four-year instruction.

“This grant is a real opportunity for the college to serve as an integral part of the career pathway from high school to highly competitive employment,” said Adam Hastings, PVCC dean of business, mathematics and technologies. “With resources dedicated to collaboration with high school faculty and recruitment of high school students, this grant will increase opportunities for regional students to access a training pathway that leads to high-quality employment. This is a major step forward for our programming in manufacturing and related fields such as engineering and electronics.”

Moore agrees and says that one of the most exciting aspects of the grant is that it allows for the purchase of equipment that will provide students with the opportunity to learn through hands-on application and training. Equipment to be purchased includes hydraulic and pneumatic trainers, as well as a fully functioning automated manufacturing system.

“The new manufacturing system will allow students to install, maintain and troubleshoot a machine in the same way that they will need to do once they’re working in the field,” said Moore. “It will allow students to take the practical theories they’re learning in the classroom and apply them to real-life scenarios so that they’ll be better prepared for what they’ll encounter on the job.”

The project will begin on July 1, 2016, and continue through June 20, 2019. Approximately 60 PVCC students will take part in the program over the three-year period. To learn more about PVCC’s academic programs, visit www.pvcc.edu/programs, or call 434.961.6581.