State grant to update, expand GRCC programs



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

State grant to update, expand GRCC programs

Feb. 26, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has awarded a $2.9 million grant that will allow Grand Rapids Community College to purchase equipment for its machine tool, welding, HVAC, and automotive programs, as well as a new craft beer program. The grant will be combined with the college’s $983,309.41 in matching funds -- approximately $700,000 of which was provided by two donors who are interested in culinary and manufacturing education -- for the $3.9 million total project cost.

“This serious investment — one of the largest of its kind in the country – will tap our top-notch community colleges and help new students and adults looking for new opportunities gain the skills sought by companies looking to grow and expand, creating more and better jobs in Michigan,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press release announcing the grant this week.

GRCC President Dr. Steven C. Ender said the grant will help meet area employers' need for workers with sophisticated technical knowledge. "The state's generous support will help us prepare more students to enter the workforce and make a positive difference for employers seeking talent," Ender said. "The funding will help us make sure that our students have hands-on experience on the most advanced technological equipment and tools available. We will also be able to add new programs to meet changing industry demands."

The grant will fund new equipment for these programs:

Welding – Among the purchases will be state-of-the-art "virtual welders," which allow students to learn new techniques without using additional materials such as steel or aluminum. The college will also use the new equipment to create an accelerated training program to meet immediate workforce needs and to offer additional American Welding Society credentials to students.

Tooling and manufacturing – A new machine tool lab at the Tassell M-TEC facility on Godfrey Avenue SW and new equipment for the existing labs at the main campus and the Lakeshore’s Thompson M-TEC will allow the creation of a “Machine Tool Boot Camp” and expand the popular Advanced Manufacturing Partnership scholarship program. In the AMP program, a collaboration between GRCC, West Michigan manufacturers and MiWorks Region 4, a student works at a sponsoring company to obtain the on-the-job training while the company pays for classes that lead to an associate degree in tooling and manufacturing. The college will also offer additional credentialing to students.

Heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration technology – New equipment will allow GRCC to add training in variable refrigerant flow and supermarket refrigeration systems, which area employers have requested.

Automotive technology – Equipment purchases here will include GRCC's first electric demonstration vehicle, a Chevy Volt. The college will also add the Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Specialist certification.

Craft brew management – GRCC will create a craft beer instructional lab for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education’s new one-year certificate program, which area employers have requested.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.