COC receives National Science Foundation grant for new welding program

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College of the Canyons has received a $646,354 grant from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education to fund a Welding Education Smart Technology program. 

Launching in fall 2022, the WEST project will integrate smart technology platforms — paired with industry-recognized stackable certificates — into the current program curriculum and instructional delivery to improve welding technology education. 

“We are very excited to receive this grant from the National Science Foundation, which will allow our welding program to up-level,” said Harriet Happel, dean of career and technical education at the college. 

The grant will help outfit the college’s existing welding technology lab with state-of-the-art “smart” welding systems for more hands-on training time, instant assessment of welds, higher-quality training for technicians, and improved safety. 

“The WEST project will help create a pipeline of skilled welders ready to meet the demands of Industry 5.0,” said Tim Baber, department chair of welding technology at the college. “We will be able to align the program curriculum to same smart technology students will encounter in today’s workforce.” 

The WEST program at COC will also build on existing partnerships to establish foundational welding skills at the secondary school level and increase student enrollment, completion and attainment of industry-related credentials. 

WEST is expected to serve 300 students during the grant period who enter traditional or dual-enrollment pathways. 

“This grant from the National Science Foundation will allow us to expand equitable access to certificate pathways through flexible instruction delivery,” said Baber. “It is an exciting time for our welding program.” 

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