Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) will increase the number of graduates who enter the local workforce in several fast-growing sectors with a three-year, $5.8 million grant award from The Harvest Foundation.

This grant will focus on satisfying local workforce needs, providing students with the skills needed to obtain a living wage job, and it will prepare current students at PHCC for credentials and sustainable careers.

The focus areas include nursing, welding, and Industry 4.0, referring to highly automated “smart factories” that utilize cyber-physical systems. Many existing components at PHCC support Industry 4.0 training, including networking through the Cisco Academy, Mechatronics (Siemens SMSCP Levels 1-3), engineering technology (CAD/CAM, Siemens NX) and machining.

“This grant highlights PHCC’s commitment to developing the local workforce and creating partnerships that will help to sustain the work,” said DeWitt House, senior program officer at The Harvest Foundation. “This grant further supports Harvest’s strategic plan with our goals in workforce and investment. PHCC has a proven track record in providing quality workforce training and listening to the needs of local industry. We are happy to support this integral part in our overall goal of growing Martinsville-Henry County’s economy.”

There are nearly 500 nursing jobs in PHCC’s service area, according to the grant application, and more than 6,500 nursing jobs within a 45-minute drive from Martinsville. To serve this growing need, PHCC will purchase three simulator/virtual dissection tables, known as the Anatomage Table, to better prepare RN (registered nurse) students for anatomy and physiology courses. A nursing success coach also will be hired to assist with advising and other work specific to students enrolled in health science programs. This position will further assist in retention and credential attainment.

In partnership with Sovah Health, PHCC will develop a Clinical Simulation Lab for Nursing Education, to be located within Sovah Health-Martinsville’s hospital facilities. This will create many opportunities for students and the community, including providing valuable experience to nursing students, and building an important relationship between students and the largest healthcare provider in Martinsville-Henry County. This state-of-the-art lab will include the latest advanced patient simulator programs and all equipment needed to run the scenarios. It also will serve as a hub for Sovah Health staff’s continuing education.

“As we count our blessings this holiday season, Sovah Health is grateful to The Harvest Foundation for this generous investment,” said Jacquelyn Wilkerson, chief nursing officer at Sovah Health – Martinsville. “This simulation lab will take our nurse education and training to the next level, ensuring our region has the highest clinically trained workforce capable for the diverse healthcare needs of our community. We are thrilled to further our partnership with PHCC through the implementation of this cutting-edge technology in Martinsville.”

To expand its current offerings in Industry 4.0, PHCC will hire an instructor capable of teaching related programs of study and will install eight workstations with equipment from Festo Didactic: Cyber-Physical Lab to fully train students for Industry 4.0. A certification from Festo Didactic Inc. will prepare students for job opportunities as technicians in many fields including electromechanical, mechatronics, automation, robotics, PLC (programmatic logic controller) and more.

PHCC will meet the ongoing welding demands by renovating the front building of the MET complex to increase capacity from the current 16 welding booths to 35. The renovated space will include robotics, classrooms, welding booth and office space, which will double the output of the welding program. This renovation will be the final piece of PHCC’s major project to renovate the MET Complex.

By investing in three high-demand employment sectors, officials at PHCC are confident it will help grow economic development opportunities that will ensure graduates a successful career in high-demand employment sectors found in Martinsville-Henry County.

“We are beyond excited about the impact that this investment by The Harvest Foundation will bring to our students and our community,” said Dr. Angeline Godwin, president of PHCC. “Supporting our highest-demand programs, this grant brings a new dimension to nursing – strengthening the student experience through equipment, simulation facilities and coaching; and to welding, doubling our capacity. Industry 4.0 sets the stage for near-term, next-generation advanced manufacturing. We are grateful and humbled by this opportunity.”