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Virginia Western awarded nearly $800,000 NSF grant for Mechatronics

Virginia Western Community College announces that it has received a grant for $787,849 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) to transform mechatronics engineering education in the Roanoke Region. The project will build upon a previously NSF-funded initiative to facilitate collaboration between the manufacturing industry, Virginia Western faculty and secondary career and technical educators.

“This is the single largest NSF grant Virginia Western has ever received and it will have a direct impact on students,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “We are thrilled that the NSF recognizes the college’s importance to the local economy and I believe this will continue to strengthen the region’s manufacturing industry. It’s affirmation of the outstanding work faculty members like Dan Horine are doing to provide students with the skills they need for lasting careers.”

The primary objective of the funded project, Partnership for Advanced Career Education in Mechatronics Engineering (PACE ME), is to strengthen Mechatronics technician training pathways from secondary to post-secondary education through a direct link from industry to the classroom. To achieve this mission, the program will focus on the following three goals, 1) Increase and improve the ability of high school and college faculty to provide mechatronics technician training aligned with industry requirements; 2) integrate and expand manufacturing industry involvement through mentorships and internships, and; 3) increase student diversity through recruitment, retention and outreach in Mechatronics engineering technology.

"Mechatronics is thinking about the end in mind and [about] how we are going to integrate these systems from the beginning,” said Horine, who is the principal investigator on the grant and Virginia Western’s program head of Mechatronics Systems Engineering Technology and Energy Management Systems. “I want mechatronics and the integrated approach to be a way of teaching that sets our students up for success.”
This summer, Horine was selected nationally as Educator of the Year at the NSF-sponsored High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) in Chicago. He was recognized for developing the Mechatronics Systems Engineering Technology associate in applied science degree. There are currently more than 40 students studying mechatronics systems at Virginia Western and more than 250 high school students in the “pipeline” that was developed in part through a previous NSF grant. Industry input from an advisory panel helps inform curriculum.
“If the industry likes what you do, they are going to want more of your graduates,” Horine said. “Right now, the demand for our students is exceeding enrollment. That’s why it’s increasingly important to show students that with the right training, there are great jobs available to them.”

The new PACE ME grant will add apprenticeship experiences for Virginia Western mechatronics students, a fabrication laboratory for faculty professional development, and more outreach to underrepresented minority students. The project was named in honor of the late Gerald “Jerry” Pace, a prominent local manufacturing businessman and long-time supporter of Virginia Western who was instrumental in the creation of the Salem School System and the Community College Access Program (CCAP).

“Jerry had a vision for the continuing economic prosperity in the Roanoke Region and he knew the significant role that education must play,” Horine said. “His ideas and dedication truly inspired this project.”

Educational Partners on the grant include: Bedford County Schools, Botetourt County Schools, Craig County Schools, Franklin County Schools, Roanoke County Schools, Roanoke City Schools, Salem City Schools, Blue Ridge Community College and Tidewater Community College. Industry partners include: Gala Industries, Siemens Corporation, Optical Cable Corporation, Plastics One LLC and Metalsa.

Posted on September 5, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western joins NJCAA in basketball; announces new team name is Rapids

Print Virginia Western Community College has joined the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for men’s and women’s basketball and will begin playing in the association in 2014-15. In conjunction with the move, the College announces that it has renamed its athletics teams the Virginia Western Rapids.

“Joining the NJCAA will provide our athletes with opportunities to face greater competition and pursue greater achievements. I think it will elevate them in the classroom as well as on the court,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “With this move and the opening of our Student Life Center, we have a buzz of activities and pride around campus, and I am eager to hear everyone cheer on the Rapids.”

The NJCAA is the national governing body for two-year college athletics in the U.S. and is the nation's second-largest national intercollegiate sports organization (to the NCAA). Each year nearly 60,000 student-athletes from 525 member colleges compete in 28 different sports. Visit www.njcaa.org to learn more.

Virginia Western initially will compete in the NJCAA in men’s and women’s basketball, and could add additional sports in the future. The College will be part of Region 10, which covers Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. There are 34 colleges in Region 10, and nine within Virginia.

The Virginia Western Rapids team name replaces the long-standing Blue Stars name. A new logo incorporates the college colors of blue and gold along with a rushing river that represents the Roanoke Region’s strong outdoors attractions and symbolizes the speed of Virginia Western’s athletes.

Posted on August 21, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western personalized license plate available for purchase

Through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia Western Community College announces that college-branded personalized license plates are now available for purchase. After the first 1,000 qualifying plates, more than half the proceeds from the sale of these plates will go to the Virginia Western Educational Foundation to support student scholarships.

To find out how to order Virginia Western personalized plates and to learn what personalized messages are available, visit: http://www.dmvnow.com/vehicles/#splates/info.asp?idnm=VWCC.

The Virginia Western plates will require an annual fee of $25 with an additional $10 annually for personalization. After the first 1,000 qualifying plates, the Virginia Western Educational Foundation will receive $15 of the $25 annual fee. A portion of that fee may be tax deductible.

Posted on August 13, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western to serve Franklin County in greater capacity

Virginia Western Community College and Patrick Henry Community College have cooperatively served Franklin County for many years. Through a mutual agreement, Virginia Western will solely serve the county in the future following a brief transitional phase.

Currently, both colleges operate in the Franklin Center with VWCC providing evening classes and PHCC offering daytime classes. VWCC also provides transferring dual enrollment courses at Franklin County High School while PHCC offers career and technical dual enrollment courses.

Beginning in Fall 2014, Virginia Western will assume responsibility for dual enrollment at Franklin County High School. Virginia Western will also assume responsibility for all class programming at the Franklin Center except for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). PHCC will offer EMS classes through 2014-15. PHCC will continue to work with current workforce training clients in Franklin County through 2014-15, transitioning those clients to Virginia Western by Fall 2015.

Franklin County will officially be part of Virginia Western's service area effective July 1, 2015.

Read more about this exciting announcement in The Roanoke Times: http://www.roanoke.com/news/education/higher_education/virginia-western-to-become-franklin-county-s-only-community-college/article_6065298d-7e08-5a5c-b3d5-687d7121ee14.html

Posted on July 31, 2014 in Campus News | Permalink
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