Funds help SWIC expand manufacturing programs


A new $525,000 federal award will allow Southwestern Illinois College to expand training opportunities for students seeking careers in the field of manufacturing technology.

The grant is part of a $500 million program announced Sept. 19 by the Obama administration to assist community colleges in job training.

“This funding only serves to further Southwestern Illinois College’s commitment to advancing the local workforce, and in turn, improving our local and national economy,” said SWIC President Georgia Costello, Ph.D.

The majority of the award will go toward the purchase of electrical automation equipment and software and will allow SWIC to develop an advanced manufacturing certificate in the area of electrical automation, said Dean of Technical Education Brad Sparks.  

SWIC is one of 21 colleges in a consortium led by Harper College of Chicago, which will administer the $12.9 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant among its partners. The new grant is the second installment of a $2 billion, four-year education initiative.

Last year the college received nearly $1.4 million in the first round of TAACCCT grants.

“In combination with the first round of grants, this defines the SWIC Technical Education Division as the leader in advanced manufacturing training regionally, statewide and among the best in the nation,” Costello said.

The first round of funding is being used to expand the Precision Machining Technology and Welding programs through new machinery, technology, curriculum and improved facilities, Sparks said.

The grant program promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care, science, technology, engineering and math. It calls for partnerships between educators and local employers.

The initiative complements President Obama’s broader goals to ensure that every American has at least one year of postsecondary education and the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

The U.S. Department of Labor is administering the program in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education. In total 297 institutions in 25 states will receive funding as individual grant applicants or as members of a consortium.

For more information about SWIC Technical Education programs, contact Sparks at 866-942-SWIC (7942), ext. 5447 or 7420.