RCBI, Tech Park to establish advanced manufacturing education center

In a major expansion of its training initiatives, the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University is partnering with the West Virginia Regional Technology Park to establish an advanced manufacturing education and training center in South Charleston.

The High-Tech Advanced Manufacturing Initiative will provide multiple training options for residents and manufacturers in a six-county region that encompasses Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Putnam and Roane counties.

“This expansion of our nationally recognized training programs in partnership with the Tech Park will meet the region’s growing demand for highly trained machinists,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO. “With the recent spate of announcements that manufacturers are opening new facilities or expanding operations across southern West Virginia – creating hundreds of jobs – our mission is more critical than ever. We will ensure a ready workforce through customized, company-specific training and through our career skills programs that offer national certifications and college degree options. Working in collaboration with the community college system, we prepare state residents for good-paying, in-demand occupations here at home.

“We’re confident our efforts will help existing businesses grow while attracting new industry to West Virginia and to the Tech Park by demonstrating that we’re committed to delivering the specialized workforce that companies rely on to innovate and prosper.”

Major funding for the expansion is provided by a $886,762 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant. The award is part of a recently announced $21 million package supporting coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. POWER targets federal resources to communities affected by job losses in coal mining and related industries. The award was announced by ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin earlier this month during a visit to RCBI.

“The West Virginia Regional Technology Park is honored to be a part of ARC’s POWER Initiative, which allows our technology park to continue being a conduit of growth in innovation, workforce development and STEM initiatives for our region and state,” said Matt Ballard, executive director/CEO of the West Virginia Regional Technology Park.

RCBI and the Tech Park will refurbish a 6,500-square-foot building in the South Charleston Tech Park and outfit it with an array of high-tech equipment, including computer-controlled mills, lathes, plasma cutters and 3D printers. It will be staffed by industry experienced machinists and technicians. The facility will be located in close proximity to RCBI’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on the Marshall University South Charleston campus.

After the education and training center is operational later this year, participants and employers will have four training options, each with different time commitments and certification and degree options. These include:

Academic Track. Students will achieve industry certifications in Machinist Technology/CNC with the option to earn a one-year certificate or a two-year associate of applied science degree through a local community college.

Customized On-the-Job. RCBI will create customized training regimens to meet specific company needs, which will take place either at the South Charleston training center or on-site at manufacturers’ locations.

Fast Track. Short-term customizable training primarily geared toward under- and unemployed individuals seeking to upskill or gain certifications for career attainment or advancement. Fast-track training will include online and hands-on learning with a flexible schedule that allows individuals to work at their own paces.

Public Courses. This option features classes focused on a single topic offered in a group environment open to the public. Courses to be offered will include SolidWorks, Mastercam, blueprint reading, precision measuring and 3D printing.

To learn more about the South Charleston advanced manufacturing education and training center, contact Carol Howerton, RCBI’s senior strategic advisor for workforce development, at or 304.781.1680.

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