Grant could bring hi-tech welding to Career Center

If successful on a grant application, the Warren County Career Center could be one of a handful of career centers in the state to have a robotic welder.

The Warren County School District board of directors’ Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee forwarded for approval to the whole board a request from the district administration to apply for the Competitive Career and Technical Equipment Grant.

Matt Jones, district coordinator of grants and foundation development, told the committee that the grant is competitive and includes applicants from across the state.

According to an executive summary, the purpose of the grant program “is to purchase equipment for programs that meet industry standards. Grants must be used to purchase equipment for the purpose of training students in approved career and technical education programs.”

One potential hangup with the grant is that it requires matching funds.

“The CTE equipment grant is a 50/50 matching grant. Matching funds may be district monies, or funds provided by a business, industry, or other partner. State and Federal funds may not be used as a match,” according to the executive summary.

The greatest amount that could be awarded is $50,000. The System 5 Robotic Welder would cost $75,000 with the remaining grant money slated to buy equipment for the automotive technology program.

“It’s my understanding that there may be one or two but likely no other CTEs (Career and Technical Education) in the state” that have such a welder, according to Jones.

Superintendent Dr. William Clark said “what was nice about this grant” is that the district reached out to Penn College regarding potential curriculum use for the welder. “(We) could extrapolate what would be relevant to us (and put that in the grant.”

That is “one of the benefits of that relationship,” he noted.

With the opportunity to purchase $100,000 worth of equipment for $50,000, Clark said of the match, “We’ll find it.”

“This is typically a very competitive grant across the state,” Jones said.

Board member Tom Knapp asked if the administration has considered approaching local industry for the match. Clark said that he is “cautious” because the issue of a career center director, formulated during a previous administration and including a $50,000 donation from local industry, is still up in the air. Clark said that there is a “need to heal that relationship.”

The grant application is due Oct. 7, but a notification date as to the outcome is unknown.