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Advanced manufacturing processes often involve traditional skills such as welding.
Photo: Pat Garin/Delgado Community College
Delgado Community College (DCC) has signed a cooperative education agreement with the U.S. Navy that will significantly enhance programs offered by the college in advanced manufacturing education at the Avondale shipyard in Jefferson Parish.
The Navy is providing $10 million through the DCC Foundation to support education, training and workforce development in the maritime industry trades. The Navy funding will help to transition, improve and broaden key elements of the college’s apprenticeship program located near the Avondale shipyard, expanding its capacity to serve businesses and industries in the region that depend on a highly skilled workforce.
DCC, which is the second-largest higher education institution in the state, has offered educational programs in the shipbuilding industry for decades and has a long history with the Navy. The main campus is located in City Park on the site of the former Higgins Industries. Then known as Delgado Trade School, it produced a workforce of more than 20,000 workers who built the legendary Higgins Landing Craft, as well as PT boats and other craft that were instrumental in winning World War II.
Preparing for the future
The Huntington Ingalls Industries-owned shipyard is scheduled to close in 2013 after two Navy ships currently under construction there are launched. The skills taught at the shipyard are applicable not only to shipbuilding, but to other industries. The cooperative agreement will help the shipbuilding workforce in southeast Louisiana remain a valuable asset to manufacturing industries that contribute to a strong regional economy.
“The Navy’s investment in the Delgado and Huntington Ingalls partnership recognizes the strong historic relationship between our college and national defense, and it will help Delgado to continue educating the workforce for stable, well-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing,” said DCC Chancellor Monty Sullivan.
The agreement also calls for regional shipbuilders and suppliers to construct and repair Sealift and naval auxiliary ships that are designed using commercial standards. This would also include such things as maintenance and repair of commercial Ready Reserve Force Sealift Ships.
Focused on STEM
Under the agreement, the Navy will fund a four-year agreement to maintain and expand the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related aspects of the apprenticeship program. Such aspects include standardizing core competencies for skilled trades, formalizing a career path for the skilled workforce and updating the current Avondale shipyard training curriculum so it applies to the needs of commercial suppliers.
Huntington Ingalls Industries will provide property and technical laboratories, and Bollinger Shipyards has also offered to donate equipment for training workers in the technique of friction stirred welding.
One goal of the program is to provide education and career opportunities to returning veterans. The program has reached out to local high schools, which also use the facility as part of their instructional program, and has stimulated interest in the STEM disciplines, providing a pathway to fill the gap in the demand for skilled technicians and engineers both regionally and nationally. Many of the high school students that participate in the program might not otherwise have the resources to pursue a technical career.
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