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RUFF CREEK – A $1 million state grant will help the UMWA Career Centers Inc. launch a new advanced manufacturing and mechatronics program at its training facility near Ruff Creek.
The state Department of Community and Economic Development announced the grant Monday and said the training center will partner with the Community College of Allegheny County to offer the program.
The curriculum will consist of 400 hours of advanced training and be open to 40 to 60 students in its first two years. CCAC officials are hopeful the program can begin in the spring.
The grant will help to purchase mechatronics training equipment at the 64-acre facility at 197 Dunn Station Road in Washington Township. The center that once trained coal miners to perform underground rescues is being renovated to serve as a re-education center for displaced workers.
Brian Hannon, an account executive for workforce development at CCAC, said the partnership is geared toward former coal miners and manufacturing workers.
“Someone who could come into this program could be considered for a multi-disciplinary job in manufacturing,” Hannon said. “There are a lot of great opportunities with this partnership. It will help service people with a good-paying job from training that is probably appropriate for them. Someone who is … good with their hands, has an analytical streak and is good at problem solving.”
The training equipment will be a “scaled down version that are hands-on in nature (with) a whole litany of devices and machines,” Hannon said. He said the program is a melding of electrical and mechanical curriculums, which include the basics of electrical control circuits, mechanical hydraulics and pneumatics.
If successful, the partnership could lead to other programs, such as cyber security and networking, Hannon said.
The DCED grant is part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s “Manufacturing PA” initiative to offer more training opportunities to workers across the state. Wolf toured the training facility in January and touted at the time a $3 million grant to be used to repurpose the center.
“Workers and their families in southwest Pennsylvania have seen their share of challenges, with many former coal workers seeking new jobs in manufacturing, but lacking the necessary job skills to do so,” Wolf said.
Clemmy Allen, executive director of UMWA Career Centers Inc., said the grant will be a “key component” to providing hands-on training at the facility.
“The training equipment, primarily for our mechatronics training program, will help prepare residents of rural coal mining communities for employment in advanced manufacturing,” he said in a written statement.
For more information about the program, go online to www.ccac.edu.