Grant Allows PBSC To Expand Engineering Training

Palm Beach State College is launching a new Center for Excellence in Engineering Technology at the Belle Glade and Palm Beach Gardens campuses with a more than $2 million award from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

Slated to open in August, the center will allow the college to expand its engineering program offerings and provide a more collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to boosting the number of highly trained, middle-skill workers to meet the needs of the aviation/aerospace, manufacturing, clean tech and homeland security/defense industries.

“We are honored and excited to be one of the 2018-19 Florida Job Growth Grant recipients,’’ PBSC President Ava L. Parker said. “The grant will allow us to enhance and grow our engineering training programs and provide additional career paths for students.”

PBSC’s $2,060,919 grant is part of $9 million in awards that former Gov. Rick Scott announced before concluding his second term. He and the Florida Legislature created the fund in 2017, providing $85 million for improving public infrastructure and enhancing workforce training in the state. The Jobs Growth Grant Fund was approved again by the legislature for $85 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The college will offer a new fourth concentration in advanced manufacturing for the engineering technology associate in science degree and launch three additional college credit certificates in industrial technician, automation and lean manufacturing, bringing the total to five. The college also will hire five employees, including a director of the center and two faculty members, and strengthen its partnerships with Florida Atlantic University and 15 local companies to ensure students are highly prepared for the workforce and have the skills they need to transition into bachelor’s programs.

“The Center for Engineering Technology will allow us to further our commitment to provide a solid pipeline of workers for our local industries,’’ said Dr. Jean Wihbey, PBSC’s vice president of workforce development. “It will position us as a leader in engineering training and help grow the local and state economy.”

College faculty and staff immediately will begin finalizing program curricula and other plans for the center.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I’m excited to participate in growing the Center for Excellence in Engineering Technology,” said Professor Eva Suarez, department chair for Engineering Technology, whose background includes 17 years as a mechanical engineer at Pratt Whitney.

“We want to be top of mind for all of the high school students, parents, advisors and teachers when it comes to any kind of engineering education,” added Professor Oleg Andric, chair of the Electrical Power Technology program, who helped craft the grant proposal.