Students eyeing the aerospace field and industry employees wanting to reskill will both find more opportunities at San Jacinto College’s EDGE Center thanks to a federal grant.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $1 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the College this April to help renovate and equip the EDGE Center to boost its aerospace training.
With its EDGE Center at Ellington Airport, San Jac is the official education training partner for the Houston Spaceport. Matched with $250,000 from the College, the EDA grant will expand aerospace workforce opportunities while saving jobs as the region recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Sarah Janes, associate vice chancellor of continuing and profession development, says the grant will fund many projects at the EDGE Center -- like renovating ventilation, upgrading the electrical system, and expanding the caged lab area for drone training.
It will also supply “all the major machining tools used in the aerospace industry today” -- from an industrial oven, 3D printers, and large drills to mechatronics trainers and more.
“[Students] will be trained in a facility designed for aerospace technicians,” Janes said. “It will give them a better chance of employability with aerospace companies now and in the future.”
Currently, the EDGE Center offers these technical tracks: composite manufacturing technician, aerospace electrical assembly technician, aerospace mechanical structures technician, aerospace quality technician, mechatronics and industrial automation technician, and manufacturing technician. All lead to national certifications.
While offering 12- to 18-month programs to train the future workforce, the EDGE Center also reskills aerospace employees through shorter, customized courses.
The Houston Spaceport and Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership helped the College apply for the grant, while many industry partners committed to employ graduates.
“This partnership -- the letters of commitment from the aerospace community -- were a critical piece [in receiving the grant],” Janes said.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $1.5 billion in economic assistance to help communities respond to the pandemic, while the EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance aids communities in recovering from its impact.
To learn more about the EDGE Center, visit www.sanjac.edu/edge-center.