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Department of Commerce Invests in College’s Welding Expansion

The U.S. Department of Commerce has recognized Pennsylvania College of Technology’s vital contribution to the skilled workforce with a $2 million grant earmarked for expanding the college’s Avco-Lycoming Metal Trades Center.

The Economic Development Administration grant, combined with a $3 million match from the college, will approximately double the size of welding instructional space to more than 40,000 square feet and support an additional 60 students annually. There are currently about 350 welding students at Penn College.

“We are honored to be awarded this grant that will facilitate expansion of one of our most popular programs,” said Paul L. Starkey, vice president for academic affairs/provost. “For generations, our welding department has produced graduates essential to the manufacturing workforce. Today, the need for skilled technical workers is acute. The grant ensures that more students will be given the opportunity to earn rewarding careers and fill that void. I’m thankful for the staff and faculty who worked very hard to make the possibility of expansion a reality.”

A $2 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration will help Penn College expand its welding facilities and increase the number of students enrolled in welding majors at the college.
A $2 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration will help Penn College expand its welding facilities and increase the number of students enrolled in welding majors at the college.

“This grant will further Penn College’s work to help students gain the skills they need to compete in our economy,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. “Every worker should have the opportunity to gain the kinds of skills that allow them to obtain good-paying jobs that can support a family. This grant will help more students be successful in the economy.”

The grant application leadership team consisted of David R. Cotner, dean of industrial, computing and engineering technologies; Bradley M. Webb, assistant dean of industrial, computing and engineering technologies; James N. Colton, assistant professor of welding; and Michael R. Allen, instructor of welding.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to offer more students access to the varied, lucrative careers available in welding,” Cotner said. “We have a long waiting list for our program, so we will have no problem filling the additional seats.

“Our graduates have a nearly 100 percent job-placement rate, and the demand for their skill set is only going to increase in the coming years with an aging welding workforce eyeing retirement.”

Penn College offers a bachelor’s degree in welding and fabrication engineering technology, associate degrees in welding technology and metal fabrication technology, and a certificate in welding.

According to Cotner, many Penn College welding students secure industry positions long before commencement. He said starting salaries for recent four-year graduates range from $55,000 to $80,000 and from $38,000 to $65,000 for two-year graduates.

While the Metal Trades Center expansion eventually will result in more welders, the project will yield economic benefits for the region. The college estimates the construction project will create 23 jobs, including additional faculty and staff to support the new students. Several manufacturers have donated $448,864 worth of equipment in anticipation of the project. The college hopes for more private investment during the expansion.

Construction is scheduled to begin in late fall or early spring, with completion expected in Spring 2019. Harrisburg-based Murray Associates Architects is designing the expansion.

“This is a very exciting time for the welding department,” Cotner said. “The college’s long-standing commitment to the skilled workforce will be enhanced thanks to the grant and the resulting expansion. Both our students and the manufacturing sector will reap the benefits.”

For more about the welding majors and other programs offered by the college’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education. For more, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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