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BRCC receives $200,000 grant for high-tech ed

Pictured from left are: Shanda Bedoian; Joe Shook; Christine Laucher; Dr. Laura Leatherwood; Craig DeBrew, Duke Energy; Chris English; Lisa Adkins; Sharon Suess; and Shawn McCallister. Pictured from left are: Shanda Bedoian; Joe Shook; Christine Laucher; Dr. Laura Leatherwood; Craig DeBrew, Duke Energy; Chris English; Lisa Adkins; Sharon Suess; and Shawn McCallister.

Blue Ridge Community College has received a $200,000 investment from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas to connect students with hands-on training and career development opportunities, BRCC officials announced.

The investment will be used to update learning labs to mirror state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing standards. Blue Ridge will use $75,000 to purchase new equipment like the Piranha Ironworker and Thermal Imaging Trainer and $125,000 for scholarships, marketing efforts and overall support of the program.

“At Blue Ridge, we are proud to be training young professionals to enter careers right after graduation through our apprenticeship program,” Blue Ridge President Dr. Laura Leatherwood said. “We are so grateful for this grant from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas that will help our students gain the knowledge and skills they need to obtain a great career in a high-tech field. Blue Ridge has a long history of developing partnerships with our local industries and this grant will further strengthen this work.”

“We are proud to partner with Blue Ridge Community College to connect students with apprenticeship and workforce training opportunities,” said Craig DeBrew, district manager for Duke Energy. “These students will help meet the growing and evolving needs of the region’s manufacturing industry.”

The grant is part of Duke Energy’s $35 million investment in North Carolina’s Community Colleges to focus on technical education and support of business and industry. Individual community colleges could apply for funds through the North Carolina Community Foundation and the Foundation for the Carolinas. Applications were reviewed by a committee of representatives from Duke Energy, NC Community College System and NC Department of Commerce.