Uniquely Abled Academy celebrates robotics grads

Graduates of the the Uniquely Abled Academy (UAA) robotics training program display their certificates of completion during the ceremony held at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center on Friday, 032224. Dan Watson/ The Signal
Graduates of the the Uniquely Abled Academy (UAA) robotics training program display their certificates of completion during the ceremony held at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center on Friday, 032224. Dan Watson/ The Signal
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News release  

The Uniquely Abled Academy at College of the Canyons hosted a graduation ceremony last week for nine students who have completed the UAA’s pilot robotics training program.  

The six-week robotics training program was designed to provide students on the autism spectrum with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in the advanced manufacturing sector by tapping into their unique abilities and helping them overcome any barriers they may face in their professional lives, according to a news release from the college. 

“We are very excited to celebrate the hard work of these nine students who have undergone intense training coupled with integrated job-readiness,” Jeff Gregor, assistant superintendent/vice president of workforce and economic advancement at the college, said in the release. “By participating in the program, these students now possess the valuable technical skills to join a competitive, high-wage job market.” 

To ensure successful job placement for the program’s second cohort, Jay Nolan Community Services — a COC partner — will continue to provide job development training to graduates, as needed, until June 30.  

The college’s Workforce & Economic Advancement Division launched its robotics training program in 2023, with funding via a $260,00 grant from USC’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. 

The program’s first cohort of five students graduated in December. 

As the program’s UCEDD grant funding has been exhausted, Gregor says integrating robotics programming into the UAA’s existing computer numerically controlled program is a possibility. 

“Although we have amazing success with our CNC program, we believe giving the students both skill sets will not only make them more competitive as job seekers, but also provide them additional skills to work in different areas in advanced manufacturing,” Gregor said in the release.  

For more information about the UAA at COC, go to canyonsworkforce.org/uaa. 

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