From The Providence Journal:
The New England Institute of Technology has won a second $2.5-million federal grant to expand the shipbuilding and advanced manufacturing institute it created when it won its earlier grant in 2013.
New England Tech will add five programs to its two core training programs at the institute, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Those new programs will offer shipfitting, pipe welding, sheetmetal, pipefitting and robotics classes to 200 Rhode Island students.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed hailed the grant Sunday night as the kind of business-education partnership Rhode Island needs to get people back to work and improve the economy.
New England Tech is one of 71 grant recipients the federal labor department is expected to announce Monday, with $450 million in grants to community colleges around the country.
This is the final round of a four-year program to invest nearly $2 billion in a career and training initiative, the department announced. The idea behind the federal stimulus money is to expand the ability of community colleges — and those like New England Tech that offer two-year associate’s degrees — to partner with local employers and create training programs to prepare people for jobs in high-demand careers.
The U.S. Department of Labor has invested nearly $11 million in Rhode Island over the last four years — “part of a long-term commitment to ensure that workers have access to training for the specific skills employers need to stay competitive in the global economy,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement.
Reached earlier Sunday night by telephone before Reed’s office had confirmed the grant, a New England Tech vice president said he welcomed the prospect of additional federal funds.
“The college is obviously thrilled by the support that the U.S. Department of Labor is providing to our college to continue New England Tech’s 75-year history of preparing people for positions in the labor market,” said Steven H. Kitchin, vice president of corporate education and training at the Warwick institute.
Since New England Tech won its first $2.5-million grant in March 2013 for its shipbuilding and advanced manufacturing institute, the school has also raised $440,000 in funding for the program from the Governor’s Workforce Board and $50,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation, Kitchin said.
The shipbuilding institute currently has close to 140 participants working to earn certificates of completion, Kitchin said. The curriculum is designed for students to work in one of two labs — a manufacturing lab, which prepares them for work in basic machine operations and advanced computer numerical control, and a welding lab.
A federal project officer recently visited the program to monitor its progress, Kitchin said.
“We received high praise for our linkages with the private sector, that our curriculum was indeed focused, and they were quite pleased with the labs we had created,” he said.
The federal labor department hoped its funding would encourage colleges to find ways to sustain training programs after the federal funding runs out, Kitchin said. He said one way to do that is to turn the programs from certificate programs into degree-granting programs. New England Tech expects to announce soon that it will be adding certain degree-granting programs, he said.
The shipbuilding institute has a flexible admissions policy. Anyone interested in applying can find more information online at samiri.org.