CATE Center awarded $15,000 grant

Article by: Charles Warner | Union Daily Times

UNION COUNTY — For the fourth year in a row eight Union County High School students will have the opportunity to receive dual credit in welding from Spartanburg Community College while still in high school.

Patricia Hughey, Job Placement Coordinator for the Union County Career and Technology Education Center, announced this week that she’d been notified by Marsha R. Samellas, Grant Administrator for Philanthropic Services of Wells Fargo Private Bank, that the CATE Center had been awarded a $15,000 grant.

Hughey said the grant is for the CATE Center’s Dual Credit Welding Program for the 2014-2015 school year. She said the funding will enable eight students enrolled in CATE’s welding program to take two courses at the Union County Advanced Technology Center while in high school and receive dual credit from Spartanburg Community College.

This is the fourth year CATE has received the grant and Hughey, who wrote and submitted the grant applications for the past two years, said that without it there would be no Dual Credit Welding Program.

“We couldn’t have this dual credit course without the grant,” Hughey said Thursday. “The grant basically pays for the course so we can offer it.”

Hughey said that with this grant, a total of 32 CATE students will have been able to participate in the Dual Credit Welding Program.

“Dual credit means both high school and college credit,” Hughey said. “Courses offered for dual credit stem from agreements between high schools, universities and community colleges whereby a high school junior or senior enrolls in a college course and simultaneously earns college credit and high school credit for the course.”

The ability to offer the Dual Credit Welding Program with the UCATC benefits both students and local industry according Hughey who said area industries are very interested in CATE Center’s programs and the students enrolled in them.

“When you can take classes while in high school that will matriculate into a secondary institute, that will have a positive impact for our students and area industries,” Hughey said. “We have had industries in the past couple of weeks come in and tell us they are very serious about connecting with our program at the CATE Center. They want our welders and our other students that are in the manufacturing courses such as mechatronics, machine tool technology, as well as engineering.”

The dual credit students will be taking courses at the UCATC through its welding program. The welding program, which continues to grow in popularity, graduated its first class in December, and will graduate its second in October.

UCATC Site Coordinator Kathy Jo Lancaster welcomed the continuance of the Dual Credit Welding Program, pointing out both the educational and professional opportunities it opens for the students

“SCC is thrilled to partner with the CATE Center to offer the Dual Credit Welding Program for a fourth year,” Lancaster said. “This program provides potential welding students an opportunity to seamlessly transition into SCC’s welding program. Traditionally, graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate with the opportunity to earn up to $40 per hour.”

All four of the students who graduated from the technology center’s welding program in December were already working part-time as welders prior to graduation. After graduation, the four then went to work for their employers full-time.

Students who successfully complete the certificate program at the technology center can get jobs in the power industry, manufacturing, construction, and as self-employed welders. Those who get work in those areas can command salaries ranging from $12 to $40 an hour.

Eight other students could have graduated in December, but chose to continue their studies and gain advanced degrees in welding, mechatronics, and manufacturing. Two of those students were also employed part-time by companies in Union and Spartanburg Counties while taking the course.

The successful completion of advanced training can lead to jobs in the construction, power, nuclear energy, and gas turbine production industries, especially if they are willing to travel. Salaries begin at $20 an hour and include overtime, bonuses, and per diem, including $400 a week per diem in living expenses for welders who travel to job sites.

In addition to welding and mechatronics, the technology center also offers courses in Industrial Safety and Hand Tool Operations.