DOBSON — Work is nearing completion on a facility at Surry Community College which will help the school fulfill a goal of offering more training services to area manufacturers.
“That building is right on target,” Dr. David Shockley, college president, told the SCC Board of Trustees during a meeting Monday afternoon regarding the construction timetable for the new Industrial Training Center.
“We hope to have it completed next month.”
The 6,000-square-foot facility will supply “flexible” advanced manufacturing space to provide training programs for local industries, Shockley explained.
He said the center is designed to fill a void in what the college has been able to offer to companies in terms training programs for new employees, along with supplying students with marketable job skills.
“That is a vision that I had when I came here,” Shockley, who was named SCC president in 2011, added of reaching out to manufacturers. This includes not only having more space for training, but being able to supply companies with students for technical jobs requiring skills such as machining and robotics, based on Monday’s discussion.
The new Industrial Training Center is a result of that goal, Shockley said.
Once construction on the building is finished in mid-to-late May, equipment will be moved in, Shockley said. The initial emphasis will be on machining, which he said is now a viable career option in the United States, and later on welding.
The first classes are envisioned for July or August.
“This is what we’re going to have to do if we run on all eight cylinders,” Shockley said of serving existing local industry as well as preparing students for today’s economy.
“It’s very exciting.”
Surry Community College already has an off-campus training presence in the area, with the new building to be the “nucleus” of that component, Shockley said.
SCC Reaching Out
The college has built ties with a number of companies in the area, the trustees were told during another portion of Monday’s meeting by Sam Brim, SCC’s director of customized industry training services.
It has projects in place with such companies as Weyerhaeuser and Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) in Elkin, and Ottenweller Co. and Leonard USA in Mount Airy.
Other projects will include Advanced Electronic Services (AES), Awesome Products, Willow Tex and Nester Hosiery in Mount Airy; Elastrix in Pilot Mountain; and Carolina Carports in Elkin.
“We are wanting to help businesses be more successful,” Brim said, which includes better management of their resources. Seminars and other meetings also are a part of this mix, he added, which aids private business while also allowing the college to market its graduates and other resources.
“This is going to be free with the industry in our area,” Brim said. SCC wants companies to be assured that “we’re focusing on them as customers.”
Brim added of companies’ various needs: “We’re trying to make sure that their next stop is Surry Community College,.” This can include classes to help existing workers become “more promotable” within their organizations.
While most of the focus is on training, Brim said the college can provide technological expertise as well, mentioning ultrasonic testing as one example. This pinpoints air loss and energy conservation, which can help a business realize substantial savings.
SCC students get experience in such areas and “it definitely makes our customers happy,” Brim said.
“We could do a lot more,” he said of such services. “We’ve got a lot of technology we need to share with our industry out there.”
Deidre Rogers, the chairman of the SCC trustees, said the industry-oriented programs are gaining attention. “I’ve heard a lot of favorable comments.”
Also Monday afternoon, the college trustees:
• Received information about the upcoming retirements of Dean Gordon, longtime director of SCC’s Center for Public Safety and Basic Law Enforcement Training, and Christina Connell, an English instructor. Gordon’s retirement will be effective on July 1 and Connell’s on June 1.
• Were told by Dr. Shockley that Surry Community College fares well in Gov. Pat McCrory’s preliminary higher education budget for the state, which proposes funding cuts for 52 of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges. “We’re one of the six that would actually benefit from the budget initially,” Shockley said. The state’s universities also are in line for decreases.
“It does put us in an interesting dilemma,” Shockley said of the proposed budget’s impact on SCC, pending final approval in Raleigh. As it stands now, the cost of regular tuition and continuing education would increase slightly.
• Did hear Shockley say that two positions stand to be lost at the college due to grant-funded personnel cuts. They are in the Upward Bound program that works with public schools to help students prepare for college. A site coordinator and associate director/counselor are threatened with losing their jobs because of a grant not being renewed, which would leave the program with only a director and an administrative assistant.
The outlook for a turnaround is dim, the SCC president said, with even more grant reductions now eyed than earlier ones tied to the slashing of the two employees.
“It’s a tough loss, but there’s not a lot we can do about it right now,” Shockley said.
• Were told that the college needs $2 million worth of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) repairs. This is to be addressed with the county commissioners during budget preparations tonight. It is hoped that a long-term (several years) replacement plan can be implemented to address the need.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.