AC receives $346,598 JET Grant for Advanced Manufacturing initiative

Amarillo College has received a grant that positions AC to acquire cutting-edge equipment essential to the redesign of its Industrial Technology program into an Advanced Manufacturing pathway that includes a specialization in automation.

AC was presented with a $346,340 Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Grant by leadership of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) during a ceremony on Sept. 14 at Frank Phillips College (FPC), which also received a grant.

TWC Commissioner Alberto Trevino III was on hand in Borger, Texas to make the presentations at FPC, and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Tamara Clunis was there to accept the grant for AC.

The TWC annually uses JET grants to help defray start-up costs of developing career and technical education programs for public community, state and technical college, school districts and charter schools.

David Hall, dean of technical education, said AC will use its JET funds to adopt an industry-driven curriculum and purchase state-of-the-art training equipment to support the College’s redesign efforts, which already are underway.

“In the Texas Panhandle, increasing our region’s capabilities related to Advanced Manufacturing has quickly become an imperative,” Hall said. “As technology advances, Industry 4.0 concepts such as automated systems, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and connected systems are becoming more prevalent with our industry partners.

“And in addition to the existing labor market demand for these skills,” he said, “Amarillo is attracting new employers to the area that will further increase demand for industrial machinery mechanics with skills in automation.”

During the JET project year, the new curriculum and equipment will allow a minimum 80 AC students entering the field of Advanced Manufacturing to earn multiple credentials. Curricular offerings will be available in everything from certification in IoT and robotic systems to micro-credentials in electrical and control systems, instrumentation, electro-fluid power systems, and more.

The TWC’s Labor Market Information projects that demand for industrial machinery mechanics will grow 26 percent by 2030, which translates to an increase of 570 jobs locally, Hall said.