Wallace State’s new Technical Education Center for Welding and Entrepreneurship awarded $200K ARC grant

Wallace State's welding department produces yearly job placement rates of 100 percent among its students. 

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College’s Welding Department has been awarded a $200,000 grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for the purchase of workforce training equipment for its new Technical Education Center for Welding and Entrepreneurship.

“The Appalachian Regional Commission’s mission to advance opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life in our region makes the organization a perfect partner for our work at Wallace State, and we are extraordinarily grateful that the ARC has recognized the tremendous value of this project and selected it for a competitive grant award,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.  “Job growth, economic prosperity and workforce training truly are interdependent.”

Wallace State’s new training facility, anticipated to open in late 2021 or early 2022, will allow the welding program to expand its highly successful reach and provide an estimated 110 workers in the Southern Appalachian region each year with more opportunities for training in the high-skill, high-wage and high-demand welding trade and help meet the employment needs of some 40 new and current manufacturing businesses in North Alabama. In addition, the Alabama Department of Commerce confirmed in 2018 that more than 6,000 advanced manufacturing jobs will be created through the implementation of the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant, which is scheduled to open in 2021.

Wallace State’s new welding facility will be located on the north end of campus, behind the college’s School of Nursing and Center for Science building.

The facility will also house a new Entrepreneurship Center and Technology Incubator, which will contain seven incubation pods, an ideation station, along with shared conference and workspaces.

The new Wallace State welding facility will allow the program to grow from 6,500 square feet of cramped, overflowing classroom and lab space with 51 welding booths, 18 of which are in mobile units, to a 19,445 square feet state-of-the-art facility better equipped to serve a program with approximately 80 students and growing enrollment.

The new space will include 62 welding booths; ten virtual welding simulators; six pipe fitting stations; a destructive and non-destructive testing lab, which includes magnetic particle testing, penetrant dye testing, macro etch testing and ultrasonic testing; three robotic welding and resistance welding cells; an additive manufacturing cell; and a CNC automation and programming lab for plasma cutting, fiber laser cutting, and water jet cutting; and an overhead crane for safety training in rigging and crane operation.

Wallace State’s Welding Department, a NC3 (National Coalition of Certification Centers) program, trains students at both the main campus site in Hanceville and in Oneonta. Students enrolled in the program have opportunities to earn an associate in science welding technology degree or select certificates.

The welding program has produced multiple winners at the state SkillsUSA competition and two national champions – Joey Foster in 2009 and Jacob Humphrey in 2019. Humphrey is now an instructor in the program.

In 2018, Wallace State received a $2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to address regional needs for entrepreneurship and job growth, leading to the implementation of the new welding facility.

For more information the Appalachian Regional Commission, visit www.arc.gov/.

For more information on Wallace State welding, contact 256-352-7846, 256-352-8272 or visit www.wallacestate.edu/programs/technical-division/welding

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.