Patrick & Henry Community College. Courtesy of the school.

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P&H wins national award for advanced manufacturing

Patrick & Henry Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing program has won the first Rural Community College Alliance (RCCA) Innovation and Access Award for its partnership with Festo Didactic and the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3).

In response to advanced manufacturing employers citing the need for increasingly complex training, P&HCC introduced advanced manufacturing training in Industry 4.0 in partnership with Festo Didactic and the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) in 2018 and in 2019 became the first institution in the nation to offer all three levels of training and the first to offer the highest level of Industry 4.0 training, according to a release from the school.

In June 2020, P&HCC became the first NC3 and Festo Center of Excellence, recognizing P&HCC’s role in driving the future of career and technical education and workforce development. P&HCC now serves as an NC3 Leadership School.

Local employers who have enrolled their staff in this program include Eastman Chemical Company, Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Ten Oaks, and GS Industries.

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Tech receives $500,000 for student entrepreneurship

Virginia Tech has received a $500,000 commitment to the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs from 1994 graduate Win Sheridan.

Sheridan’s philanthropic investment will help the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, a transdisciplinary center housed within Pamplin College of Business, engage more student entrepreneurs in educational programing, networking, and funding opportunities to catalyze their business ventures, according to a relase from Tech.

Launched in 2014, the Apex Center was named in recognition of a joint commitment of $5 million by Sheridan and fellow Virginia Tech alumni Brian Callaghan ’93, Ted Hanson ’91, and Jeff Veatch ’93. Namesake Apex Systems is the information technology staffing and services company that Sheridan, Callaghan, and Veatch founded in 1995. Apex Systems was acquired in 2012 by ASGN Incorporated, for which Sheridan serves as a director. 

In its inaugural year, the Apex Center delivered educational programming and events to 135 aspiring student entrepreneurs. Progressing on a path of tremendous growth, that number jumped to over 2,000 in academic year 2021-22, with 530 of those students — from 112 majors — participating in specialized experiential learning opportunities hosted by the center.

In the program, students work closely with faculty who share insights from their professional experiences. Students also interact with a network of successful alumni entrepreneurs, which included 38 mentors in 2021-22. In the same year, over $21,000 in grants and cash prizes were awarded to 49 student-led startup teams to build and launch new products and services.

Apex Center-supported startups are implementing solutions that streamline the student application process for internships and full-time jobs, keep senior citizens socially connected, advance the use of augmented reality and machine learning to support special-needs education, and much more, according to a release from Tech.

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University of Lynchburg receives $400,000 NSF grant for student research and internships

The University of Lynchburg’s environmental science department has received a nearly $400,000 National Science Foundation grant to support student research and internships. Specifically, the grant will fund up to six students — Pell Grant recipients and ethnic minorities — per year over three years, covering all expenses for a dinosaur excavation in Wyoming and an internship with the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

Participants will receive three academic credits for the summer research. A required internship with the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville will yield three more credits — as well as training in a variety of skills, including curation and social media marketing.