CONTACT: Gail Crutchfield, Communications and Marketing, Wallace State Community College, 256.352.8064, gail.crutchfield@wallacestate.edu

HANCEVILLE, Ala. –Wallace State Community College is partnering with local industry to offer a new program that will give students a chance to work while they learn. The Injection Mold Technologies short-term certificate program, developed in response to local industry demand for qualified employees, will be added this fall to the Machine Tool Technology (MTT) curriculum.

The new program will offer training on the injection molding process used by several companies in the Cullman County and North Alabama area. An apprenticeship program is also anticipated as part of the program, with students able to start working in local industry as soon as they enter the program.

Jimmy Hodges, Dean of Applied Technologies at WSCC, said several members of the industrial community approached him about starting a program to specifically train students on injection molding technology.

“In Cullman County we have quite a few injection molding companies,” Hodges said. “Rehau makes plastic bumpers for Mercedes, Royal Technologies does a lot of injection molding and Robson Company is a company in Vinemont that does some injection molding.”

After being approached to start the program, Hodges said he and Suzanne Harbin, Wallace State’s Director of Advancement, created a grant proposal for the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development (GOWD) Region 2 to receive funding for the machine needed to teach the program. By early April, the college earned approval for the program by the Department of Postsecondary Education and received a $76,503 grant from the GOWD to purchase an injection molding machine.

The Injection Mold Technologies program will be a 29-credit hour program. It can be taken separately as a certificate program, or in conjunction with the with Machine Tool Technology’s associate degree program.

“If a student were interested in this technology, we suggest they complete the associate degree program,” Hodges said. “An associate degree provides them with another credential to make them more employable.”

Another factor that will help WSCC graduates of the MTT program more employable will be the apprenticeship program that is currently in development.

“We are in the process of developing apprenticeships for industrial maintenance as well as injection molding,” Hodges said. “That will be an incredible opportunity for students not only to receive work experience and training at Wallace, but also to earn a registered apprentice credential that in this day and time open doors of opportunity for our students.”

Terry Puffer, Molding Production Manager at Royal Technologies, sees the apprenticeship program benefitting Wallace State students by giving them a foot in the door, and offering them a chance to grow within their company.

“We get great leaders by promoting from within,” Puffer said. “It’s our preference and often our first choice. We feel the apprenticeship program will provide the candidate an opportunity to grow and expand their skills for a high-tech and rewarding career with Royal.”

Hodges said the college often gets approached by industries seeking specific training procedures for current and potential employees, and that they always try to help.

“We are a central location for the state of Alabama, so it is extremely important and we pride ourselves on responding to industry needs and doing so quickly,” Hodges said.

The industry appreciates that response.

“It’s refreshing,” said Chris Robson, owner of Robson Company, Inc., who was among those who discussed such a program with WSCC officials and expects some of his employees to go through the program.

“I’m excited for it, and I think it’s a good addition to Wallace State,” he said of the program.

Robson said he thought larger companies like Rehau and Royal Technologies will benefit greatly from the program. Representatives from those companies agreed.

“The production environment in the automotive industry is fast paced and demanding,” said Dan Plank, Human Resources manager at the REHAU plant in Cullman. “As a supplier to this industry, REHAU must have highly-trained, qualified people in order to perform efficiently and consistently. The Injection Molding Technology program at Wallace State will benefit REHAU and other molders in the area by improving existing employees’ skills and creating prospective employees who will have the knowledge and training they’ll need to be successful in this environment.”

Wallace State’s willingness and ability to work with local industries to improve the workforce is not lost on local economic leaders.

“It is gratifying to see a relation between local industry and the community college where companies identify a workforce training concern and within weeks the college has the desire and the flexibility in curriculum to develop and implement a program to address it,” said Dale Greer, Assistant Director of the Cullman Economic Development agency.

“Growth in any industry is tied to the ability and productivity of the workforce,” he added. “Not every community has a supportive college like Wallace State that focuses on workforce training. Cullman and the surrounding counties are extremely fortunate to have that asset and Wallace has certainly played a significant role in the new and expanding industry growth in this region.”

Helping area industries improve and expand is just one of the responsibilities of Wallace State, said Wallace State President, Dr. Vicki Hawsey.

“Community colleges are the driving force for regional economic and workforce development,” said WSCC President Vicki Hawsey. “Wallace State is a leader in this region in meeting the needs of our employers for a skilled workforce. We are continually adding curriculum and reshaping existing programs to more closely align with the current and future needs as advised by local industry.”

______________________________

Kristen Holmes
Director, Communications & Marketing
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8118 direct
256-352-8314 fax 256-339-2519 cell
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu