HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Partnerships with area industries, employers, governments, community leaders, grant-making organizations, K-12 and universities are key to the success of Wallace State Community College. Partnerships support innovation and have played a role in reimagining the college’s facilities and new programs, as will be evidenced in Wallace State’s new Center for Welding Technology and Innovation Center and other announcements to be celebrated on Monday, Aug. 21.
“Wallace State couldn’t be more grateful for the partnerships we’ve established through the years,” said Dr. Vicki Karolewics, president of Wallace State. “It takes a village to provide the best to our students, whether that be in training, equipment or opportunities, and our village is one of the best.”
Wallace State works hand in hand with area workforce development, both partners playing an essential role to the region’s growth and prosperity.
“I view the college as one of the greatest partners we have,” said Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency. “You have the students, the instructors, the equipment and all the things that business and industry needs.”
Greer said every time he’s approached the college about incubating a business or training needed for a specific industry, the college has stepped up to assist. “Everything comes down to the workforce,” Greer said about attracting and maintaining industries. “You have to have the right kind of people with training and skills.”
A recent economic report shows that Wallace State annually adds approximately $212.6 million to the local economy and supports 3,348 jobs in the college’s four-county service area, providing an economic boost to the region on par with hosting the World Series 27 times, and larger than the area’s entire utilities industry.
While Wallace State’s Welding program boasts more than 50 industry partners, the largest partner is arguably Lincoln Electric. Not only has Lincoln Electric provided the college with equipment students use to train, but the college has also delivered NC3 training for Lincoln Electrical curriculum instruction. The completion of the Center for Welding Technology helps finalize the college’s partnership with Lincoln Electric to become a Southeastern Authorized Training Center. Lincoln Electric is the world’s largest manufacturer of welding equipment, welding consumables and automation.
Similar partnerships have benefitted programs across campus. One of the newest is with Benton Automotive Group, who is donating a Nissan Leaf vehicle to the Wallace State Advanced Automotive Services program for its Electric Vehicle courses. And Cullman Electric Cooperative will help set up electric vehicle charging stations on campus. The program also partners with Mercedes Benz and Jim Burke auto group to provide training to students.
The Haas Foundation is one of the college’s Machine Tool Technology program’s important partners, providing $25,000 in scholarships to Wallace State students each year. Haas Automation is the largest machine tool builder in the United States, and one of the largest builders of CNC machines in the world. In addition to Haas, Wallace State’s Machine Tool Technology program enjoys partnerships with United Launch Alliance (ULA), Dynetics, NASA HUNCH, Orchid, Steris-IMS, General Dynamics, Mach II, RWC, Topre, YKTA, Kamtek, Blue Origin, and more. All have representatives who serve on the program’s advisory committee, which helps guide the program and many provide apprenticeship and internship opportunities to students.
Wallace State has also partnered with Kubota Tractor Corporation, Snap-On, Greenlee, Starret, FESTO, ACTION Resources, Truckworx Kenworth, Fitzgerald Peterbilt, Alabama Guardrail, Inc., Mercedes Benz and REHAU. Such partnerships have not only provided students training specific to the industry partners but has provided those training partners with a facility which they can send their employs wishing to upskill.
Many of Wallace State’s partnerships include opportunities that provide students with additional training, apprenticeships, internships, and seamless transfer to four-year institutions. While the focus of the Aug. 21 announcement largely centers around applied technology fields, these partnerships span all disciplines, including those the health science, STEM and academic divisions of the college.