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WITCC receives Federal Grant for energy education

Monday, September 22, 2008

SIOUX CITY - Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC) has received a $2,254,876 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop a renewable energy education center, to be known as the National Boiler Training and Renewable Fuels Institute.

The grant, which will be awarded over three years, has been funded under the President's Community-Based Job Training Grants Initiative.

The training institute, which will be housed at WITCC, will provide training related to the boiler trades and renewable fuels industry. The primary audience is the current employees of refineries located in the Siouxland tri-state area as well as individuals interested in obtaining the skills and knowledge that will prepare them for employment in the state-of-the-art renewable fuels industry.

The training will be delivered in a modular format through workshops, seminars and classroom instruction as well as by means of on-site training sessions at various plants in the area. Depending on the needs of the client, the training can delivered in a small group setting or a large classroom environment.

The grant will also support the development of a one-year career skills certificate, offered through the Corporate College, with two tracks. The stationary engineer track is designed for employees who operate boilers. The boiler technician track is designed for employees who install, maintain, repair and troubleshoot boilers.

Only 20 percent of the 341 grant applications received in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Labor under this initiative were funded. Western Iowa Tech was one of only two community colleges in Iowa to receive a grant.

Bob Schmeckpeper, manager of the project, said, "Western Iowa Tech was selected for this opportunity due in large part to the college's enviable reputation for delivering quality education. The college is uniquely situated to meet the training requirements of the ever-expanding ethanol and biodiesel industries located in the tri-state. This is a collaborative program between the U. S. Department of Labor, WITCC, and its training partners. It will enable people currently working in the industry to enhance their skills and ensure that there is a qualified pool of candidates for new jobs in this high-growth industry."

The National Boiler Training and Renewable Fuels Institute currently has five members: Schmeckpeper; Richard Moon, curriculum developer and project coordinator; Roger Wenzel, boiler training specialist; Fred Scoville, biofuels specialist; and Drinna Reed, career industry recruitment specialist.

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