Grants to help BCC, McCann Tech upgrade job-training equipment

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Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield and McCann Technical School in North Adams have both received funding from a state program that is designed to connect Massachusetts students and residents to jobs in high-demand industries.

BCC received $465,119 in funding and McCann Tech $121,128 from the Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program. The program is a new initiative of the governor's Workforce Skills Cabinet, which seeks to align education, workforce and economic development strategies across Massachusetts.

A total of 35 high schools, community colleges and vocational training providers across the state received a combined $9.3 million from the program.

BCC is one of nine recipients to receive single grants of over $400,000.

The college will use the funding to upgrade and modernize its manufacturing and engineering program. BCC will utilize new hydraulics, pneumatics, electrical controls, materials testing, and CNC and 3D printing equipment to train students and adults for careers in advanced manufacturing, engineering and biotechnology.

"We got some really, really high-tech stuff to bring the manufacturing/engineering lab on campus up to snuff," said William Mulholland, BCC's vice president of Community Education and Workforce Development, referring to the college's facility in Melville Hall.

The 3D printing equipment that BCC received is state-of-the-art.

"It's a 3D printer that works with multiple materials," Mulholland said. "It will make a prototype that's almost like the original product."

The new equipment will give BCC students the opportunity to receive hands-on training with sophisticated machinery so that they can improve their jobs skills.

"They're going to be actually using laser technology to read and redesign parts," he said.

McCann will use the funding to revamp the school's welding and metal fabrication equipment in order to train students for careers in Berkshire County's aeropsace, defense, commercial, medical device and power generation industries, and to retrain unemployed workers.

"We've upgraded the welding machines to make them a better match for industry standards in 2016," said McCann Tech Superintendent James Brosnan.

The new equipment includes two virtual welding machines. In studies across the country, this kind of machinery is considered part of the precision welding that is used in the aerospace industry, Brosnan said.

"They can assess and practice their welding skills without using consumable products," Brosnan said, referring to the virtual welding machines. "Now, they can go back and do it on real products without wasting time and wasting pieces."

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413 496-6224.


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