Cumberland Times-News

February 28, 2014

ACM receives $93K grant for new manufacturing courses

College making effort to prepare students to meet the needs of area employers

Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The Appalachian Regional Commission recently announced that a $93,000 grant has been awarded to Allegany College of Maryland to support the school’s effort to develop advanced manufacturing courses for qualified students.

“We are very excited to get the grant. We’ve been working on this for quite a while,” said Becky Ruppert, director of professional development for ACM.

In an effort to meet the needs of area employers such as AES Warrior Run, the Mineral Fabrication and Machine Co., the Electrical Workers Training Center, ATK, the NewPage Corp. and others, ACM officials have been working on plans to offer certified manufacturing classes.

“We appreciate the investment made by ARC. The training made possible by the grant will go to upgrade the skills of the workers in the region,” said David Jones, director of grants and development at ACM.

ACM officials are pursuing certifications for their new class offerings with the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and the American Welding Society.

“The grant money will be largely used for the purchase of the equipment,” said Ruppert.

Ruppert said the school’s plan includes an update of the welding lab.

An instructor for the manufacturing class offerings has also been selected by ACM officials. Donald Norris, a former machinist at ATK, who currently works at Mineral Fabrication in Keyser, W.Va., will act as instructor.

“We are hoping to have the program up and running in the fall,” said Ruppert.

ACM officials are also working with the Allegany County Board of Education to correlate the college’s class offerings with the skill level obtained during high school through courses such as those offered at the Center for Career and Technical Education.

Ruppert said the courses at ACM will be taught through the continuing education program. An example of the class offerings include drill press and manual milling skills, computer numerical control turning, lathe fundamentals, measuring and materials, and other machine-related topics.

“We still have some small and a few larger manufacturing companies in the area,” said Ruppert.

In addition to machine equipment, officials plan to obtain a 3-D printer for use in the manufacturing program.

“This is an effort by the school to continue our effort to meet the needs of the workforce,” said Jones.

According to Ruppert, Allegany County has about 8.4 percent of the workforce involved in manufacturing. Representatives of the local manufacturing industry have told ACM officials that they have had a difficult time finding qualified employees.

Ruppert said one company even had to expand its search for qualified personnel to Canada.

“We hope these courses will help to meet their needs,” said Ruppert.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.