Duke Energy awards $215,500 to BCCC

Published 6:27 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Duke Energy and Beaufort County Community College announced a $215,474 investment from the Duke Energy Foundation. The funds will be used to equip a simulation lab that will integrate mechatronics into existing engineering programs. This sum follows a donation in April of $221,111 from Duke Energy for welding and fabrication equipment.

The college will purchase equipment directly tied to training requested by North State Steel as it prepares to start up a second shift. AAF Flanders Corp. and Rob’s Hydraulics also have positions they need filled by candidates who are trained on their equipment.

The simulation lab will help fill about 38 positions. BCCC students will be taught on the new machines using nonferrous materials. The specific training that will accompany the machines is not available at other area colleges. Students will learn fabrication, robotic automation technology and touchscreen computer design skills.

The new equipment will allow instructors to simulate reprogramming machines to operate using different materials. While students may learn how to engineer products and how to program equipment, employers seek candidates who can design parts, and use and program equipment at their facilities.

“We fully support BCCC’s endeavors to become cutting edge in training using (these) machines,” said John Urton, vice-president of operations at AAF Flanders.

Of BCCC’s May graduates from the mechanical engineering program, two are already employed at Oakridge Metal Works and one is employed at Flanders. Another is continuing his education at East Carolina University.

“Beaufort County Community College continues to jump start job readiness through innovative programs focused on high-need skills,” said Duke Energy District Manager Millie Chalk. “We’re proud to strengthen our partnership with the college to develop and retain a skilled workforce in this region.”

This grant is part of Duke Energy’s $30 million investment in North Carolina community colleges’ focus on technical education and support of business and industry. Individual community colleges can apply for funds through the N.C. Community Foundation. A committee of representatives from Duke Energy, N.C. Community College System and N.C. Department of Commerce will review applications.