OCtech receives education grants

Early September has been Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College’s time for grants, Vice President for Academic Affairs Donna Elmore says.

The college received almost $1 million in academic grants in a week’s time, including its third National Science Foundation grant of $633,000 to support three initiatives, area commissioners learned at their September meeting.

One initiative will start a science, technology, electronics and math academy as part of OCtech’s middle college, Elmore said.

The second initiative will be used for a LabView Academy to train students to use software to control instrumentation in automated processes in industrial environments. The grant also provides money for a summer bridge program for high school students to create an interest in robotics.

The last initiative will expand course offerings in the areas of robotics and automated manufacturing.

The school also received approval of its plans for spending about $150,000 of a Learn to Earn grant on the STEM Academy, she said.

This money will be used to provide scholarships and recruit students from the school’s adult education program who want to pursue additional credentials in health care, advanced manufacturing, transportation, distribution and logistics, Elmore said. These students must be legal residents of certain counties, including Bamberg, Barnwell and Orangeburg.

The college also received a $269,000 grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to attract students to electronics engineering with an emphasis on radiation protection, Elmore said.

The college has also received an additional $231,000 grant from the NRC.

This grant will allow OCtech to expand partnerships with industries in the field of energy by helping fund tuition and internships, Elmore said. The college is already working with several organizations, including Westinghouse, the Savannah River Site and SCE&G.

The grant will also establish a summer radiation protection program at OCtech to attract students into the field of energy.

In addition to those grants, OCtech learned in early September that it will be participating in a $5 million U.S. Department of Labor apprenticeship grant provided to the S.C. Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education.

There are 16 technical schools in the system, and details about disbursement of the funds have not yet been released.

The money will be used to increase the number of registered apprenticeships, Elmore said. The college already has 15 registered apprenticeships through the Apprentice Carolina Program.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved OCtech’s quality enhancement plan, the final step in the school’s attempt to secure a 10-year reaccreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

A SACS team will visit the campus on Oct.21-22 to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the institution and the plan.

The college has been working on the re-accreditation process for more than a year. It completed its certification report in March and updated numerous policies.

This article is courtesy of The Times and Democrat, thetandd.com

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