Itawamba Community College has received $500,000 from two grant sources to enhance its Industrial Maintenance associate degree program as well as to implement Robotics and Automation Control Technology at the Belden Center.

The grants of $250,000 each were from the Appalachian Regional Commission/Three Rivers Planning and Development District and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – Governor’s Reserve Funds.

Administered by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, the Governor’s Reserve Funds support employment and training activities.

According to Barry Emison, dean of career and technical education, the funds will be used to purchase five Yaskawa robotic trainers and two automated manufacturing simulation trainers. “This will afford ICC students the opportunity to learn the advanced skill sets found in today’s automated manufacturing and distribution facilities.”

Emison said that the new program, which is scheduled to begin in August, is expected to increase the number of high-skilled technicians for high-demand jobs in ICC’s five-county service area as well as for the entire state. Current wages for Automation Technicians currently range between $24 and $28 per hour.

For example, area Ashley Furniture plans to send its incumbent workers through ICC’s training instead of out-of-state to meet its new automation expansion and investment in Mississippi, affording a long-term sustainable partnership with the college, which is available to all area manufacturers.

Emison also noted that with the implementation of the Yaskawa robotic trainers into the Industrial Maintenance program, graduates will be exposed to multiple robotics systems and more in demand for various industry needs, which will ultimately benefit both the student and companies.

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