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New associate degrees available at Southwestern

Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 10:12 a.m. CDT

A head start in the working world allows many to get the experience and training they need to better understand their field of work.

Southwestern Community College (SWCC) has made additions to the industrial maintenance technology and welding programs that now include the option to earn an associate degree.

Currently, SWCC only offers the ability to earn a diploma in each program. A diploma is earned by taking two semesters of classes in that program, with an additional summer session for industrial maintenance technology.

SWCC is part of Iowa’s advanced manufacturing consortium, which is comprised of 15 Iowa community colleges. The consortium went together and applied for a grant aimed to increase training capacity and development by awarding certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in advanced manufacturing areas.

“So, collaboratively, we (the consortium) went together to apply for a Department of Labor grant, and we were awarded $13 million as a consortium,” said Lindsay Stoaks, coordinator of secondary programs at SWCC. “For Southwestern’s portion, we’ve been awarded $750,000, which will be awarded over a three-year period to expand our welding technology program from a one-year to a two-year program, and then to also begin the industrial maintenance program.”

Industrial maintenance

Industrial maintenance technology program encompasses what happens behind the scenes of any manufacturing operation.

According to a program description, the program “is designed to provide the knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully respond to a broad range of work requirements and duties within industrial, manufacturing, processing and building maintenance environments.”

“Upon graduation, students will be able to install, maintain, monitor, repair and troubleshoot a wide variety of equipment within industrial, manufacturing, processing and public and private service facilities,” said Stoaks.

According to the 2010-2020 Iowa Workforce Development Employment Projections for Region 14, different industrial maintenance occupation positions will grow by an average of 13.8 percent, which translates to 60 job openings annually. Career possibilities include maintenance technician, industrial supervisor and maintenance foreman.

“There’s a real interest in people who are already employed by manufacturing firms, and then, of course, this is one I’m hoping we get a lot of traditional college students, those 18-year-olds who didn’t really want to go and transfer to a four-year institution, didn’t go to the military, they didn’t really know what they wanted to do. I’m hoping this is a program for them,” said Tom Lesan, SWCC vice president of economic development.

Welding

According to a program description, a student will be able to “operate welding equipment to make quality welds on the basic weld fit-ups” and “set-up and use the correct techniques and procedures for structural welding qualification” upon completion of the program.

For students to earn a diploma in welding, they must complete two semesters of courses that total 31 credits. To earn an associate degree, students must complete two more semesters and have 60 credits.

According to the 2010-2020 Iowa Workforce Development Employment Projections for Region 14, welding occupations will produce 25 new jobs annually.

“Welding occupations will grow by 20.9 percent and will produce 395 annual job openings through 2020,” the report said.

In other SWCC news:

• There were no offers made on the student-constructed house.

• Spring commencement is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 10.

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