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WVC awarded $50,000 Workforce Development Grant from Alcoa Foundation

The Alcoa Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Wenatchee Valley College Foundation for the new WVC Digital Design program. Alcoa funds will be used to purchase the hardware and software needed to support the program goals.  The most significant item to be purchased with the funds is a state-of-the-art 3D printer that can produce three-dimensional objects designed by students using cutting-edge software.

“Alcoa is delighted to be announcing this major workforce development grant in this emerging field,” said Nik Winjum, Wenatchee Works Plant Manager.  “Industrial applications for digital design are increasing exponentially and we are pleased to be enabling students in the Wenatchee Valley to prepare to work in this field.  The groundwork the college laid in developing this program will help to ensure that local graduates can find meaningful work here in the valley.”

Digital design combines industrial technology and art to create a training program for students interested in careers in entertainment design and for visualization positions in architecture, manufacturing, engineering and medical fields. These positions include 3D modeler, texture artist, production artist, digital graphics specialist or CAD assistant. This is the first certified program of its kind in Eastern Washington which will provide students with a strong technical and design background. WVC offers a certificate of completion in digital design and anticipates being able to accommodate up to 20 students per year and graduate 10 annually, with the first graduates certified in June of 2013. 

Scott Bailey, WVC Art Department Director, said that in order to develop curriculum for the program, WVC faculty spent the past three years working with representatives from companies such as Pacific Aerospace, Exotic Metals, Holland Manufacturing, Machinists Local 1123, Microsoft Games, Cashmere Manufacturing and Ecolite. WVC expects that fabrication or manufacturing companies will find digital design program graduates valuable as they seek innovative designs of new products and equipment unique to their industry and needs in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for digital artists will grow nationally by 14 percent over the next 10 years.

The college’s vision is to work directly with the community, Bailey said. “WVC is taking a collaborative approach. We are working with students and employers to provide relevant coursework, programs and technology that will allow graduates to enter the job market equipped with the design skills and knowledge being sought by employers.  These are skills that will allow graduates to compete for positions in manufacturing, fabrication, medical, agricultural processing, video game design, architectural or engineering industries—some of the primary drivers of the economy of Washington state.”

WVC Foundation Executive Director, Stacey Lockhart said the Foundation is very pleased to be approved for the Alcoa Foundation grant that promotes workforce development.  “We are asking employers for their input—what skill sets they are seeking in order to fill positions and be competitive in today’s economy.  This program will provide candidates who can meet many of those needs.”


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