Chambersburg, PA - The board of trustees of HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, has accepted a $250,000 grant for a technical college program to be delivered by the Gettysburg Campus at the Franklin County Career Technology Center (FCCTC).
HACC will offer its Mechatronics program at the site - a high-demand technical field combining mechanical systems and electronic controls - at a highly discounted tuition rate. Shippensburg University is currently developing a bachelor's degree in professional studies with a concentration in Technical Management as a pathway for students once they complete HACC's associate degree program.
HACC's Gettysburg Campus already is providing College in the High School courses for Franklin County students in conjunction with the FCCTC. This new program will give those students the opportunity to complete both an associate in science degree and then move on to a bachelors degree right in Franklin County.
HACC is recruiting for the first cohort of students for classes beginning in late February and plans to provide a full range of student services at the FCCTC. The Gettysburg Campus will also provide library access through electronic resources and courier services for books and other resources. The state grant sets tuition for courses in the Mechatronics program at FCCTC at $80 per credit hour -- less than half of the normal tuition rate of $193 per credit hour at HACC's Gettysburg Campus.
In addition, the classes are being scheduled during evening hours just three days a week to accommodate the schedules of those who are currently working while they train for a career in mechatronics.
"We are pleased about this opportunity," said Jennifer Weaver, campus vice president and dean of HACC's Gettysburg Campus. "We think there is great opportunity for growth in Franklin County and there is certainly a need for skilled technical workers in industry."
She noted that a number of Franklin County employers have pledged their support for the program including Target Distribution, JLG Industries, Manitowoc Company Crane, Tyco Electronics Corporation, Letterkenny Army Depot and Volvo Construction.
The Franklin County Career and Technology Center has served the communities of the greater Franklin County area for 40 years and currently enrolls 850 ninth- to 12th-grade students in a number of different career and technical programs.
"We are excited about expanding our very successful partnership with HACC," said Jim Duffey, administrative director for the center, "and we look forward to creating future educational opportunities with Shippensburg University through this grant."
And, as manufacturing has become more automated and robotics-controlled, jobs for mechatronics technicians are expected to increase by as much as 31 percent by 2012.
The grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education will provide HACC up to $200,000 in additional funding to purchase industry-specific equipment essential to the program, with additional funds possible in the second year of the program.
HACC is only the third recipient of a technical college grant from the PDE and the only recipient this year.
This new partnership also will help Shippensburg University extend its outreach into Franklin County and further its long-standing partnership with HACC, said Dr. Christina M. Sax, SUs dean of extended studies.
"We see this as one more way for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend one of the best public comprehensive universities in the region, given that U.S. News and World Report has ranked Shippensburg among the top institutions in the North region," Sax said. "What's more, the participants in this program will graduate with some of the most sought-after skills and will be highly marketable."
Coursework for the bachelors degree will be provided by both the College of Arts and Sciences and the John L. Grove College of Business, which has been named one of the best business schools in the nation by the Princeton Review.
"Shippensburg University is very pleased to have joined hands with HACC to provide the region with individuals well prepared in a high demand field encompassing mechanical systems, electronics controls and technical management all supported by a strong liberal arts foundation," said Barbara G. Lymnan, SU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.