Grant Monies Help Fund Tech Programs

With a $2.75 million grant assured from the federal Department of Labor, officials at Sheridan College will start looking at how best to use the funds to enhance the technical programs it offers to its students.

Northern Wyoming Community College trustees formally accepted the grant at their meeting Wednesday night.

College President Paul Young said Thursday that some of the money will be used to buy equipment. A news release from the college before this week's meeting noted that nearly $600,000 of the award will be spent on training simulators and equipment for the college's apprenticeship and technical programs.

A big issue facing the college, Young said, is a lack of space in its tech area. Sheridan County voters in August rejected the college's request for a $15.85 million bond issue to renovate and expand the college's tech center.

Young said Sheridan College faced a very competitive field for the grant funds. He said, “Given our demographics, it can be hard for us to meet criteria for these grants.” He added most of these projects are designed for large urban areas.

But, he added, the goal of the grant is to help American workers regain their competitive edge in a global market. He said Sheridan College's tech program focuses on non-traditional students, helping workers who need to re-train, and/or need to train for technical jobs while they're still working and supporting families.

Sheridan College will use the money to build on its existing heating/ventilation/air conditioning and electrician apprenticeship programs; and to enhance its certificate and degree programs in machine tool and welding technology.

Young said the federal funding will help the college make significant changes in its tech program without pulling funding from other ongoing operations. He said: “The federal grant programs are game-changers if we take advantage of those that are aligned with our priorities, and this one is.”

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