WC board receives Workforce Education update
Dr. Bill Alexander, director of robotics and automation programs at Weatherford College, wowed the Board of Trustees at their July meeting with a robotics demonstration.
Board member GB Bailey volunteered to play a game with a robotic arm controlled via a computer program by Alexander. After the robot placed four black disks on the table, Bailey was asked to guess which one had a WC logo attached underneath.
The robot would pick up the selected disk with each turn and show the other side. Bailey guessed right on his third attempt.
“The robot thinks it’s scanning a number on a part, picking it up and placing it in a tray,” Alexander said. “We’re looking at it as a game, but the robot that doesn’t know it’s a game.”
Alexander said his program is training students to program and maintain robots of many shapes and sizes.
His programs for 2022-23 included CAD, welding, HVAC, CNC/machining, IMAT and petroleum drilling. These programs had 126 students and 122 completers, all securing employment in their field before graduation.
The salaries of these students represent almost $9 million in economic growth, Alexander said.
“Those are big numbers, and our programs continue to grow,” he said. “We will be launching an associate of applied science in industrial maintenance and automation technology as well as an associate of applied science in welding technology this fall.”
Additional updates on workforce programs came from Meryl Carson, director of workforce education, and Tracy Butler, WC Wise County workforce education coordinator.
Butler reported welding remains the most robust program at WCWC, with 224 students during the last 12 months.
She also updated the board on the growing patient care technician program.
“Our adjunct instructor Dr. Christy Bowen created a wonderful eight-week hybrid curriculum PCT curriculum drawn from her wealth of knowledge and experience in nursing and curriculum development and instruction,” Butler said. “The program allows the hospital employees to be trained to quickly and use their newly-improved skills for better patient care.”
Carson highlighted the confidence-building power of workforce programs.
“Often they have never seen themselves as potential college students,” she said. “And then they enter our programs... earn a certificate, and then they do see themselves as college students.”
With many of the programs offering stackable credentials, like in the healthcare offerings, these students often use the credits they earn through Workforce Education to apply to traditional healthcare programs on the credit side of the college.
“That is our ultimate goal,” Carson said. “To see them in thriving careers or furthering their education and staying with us as a Weatherford College student.”
In other business, the board:
- Approved the minutes from the June 8 meeting.
- Approved the financial reports ending June 30.
- Approved TASB policy update No. 45.
- Approved a renewal of depository bank services with Prosperity Bank.
- Approved a renewal of intercollegiate athletic insurance with Dissinger Reed.
- Approved a bid from Weathershield Roofing and Sheet Metal LLC for a standing-seam metal roof on Coyote Village. The roof was damaged due to weather earlier this year, and the administration recommended the roof replacement match the roof planned for the new Vickie and Jerry Durant Hall.
- Formally accepted $12,000 in grant funds from the Texas Governors’ Office for the purchase of two ballistic shields for the WC Police Department.
- Received written reports from WC Wise County, academics and student services.
- Heard a 2023-24 budget update from Executive Vice President Andra Cantrell. A final proposed budget will be presented to the board in an Aug. 8 budget workshop.
In his President’s Report, Dr. Tod Allen Farmer:
- Recognized coach Johnny Emmons and the WC rodeo team on their 19th consecutive appearance at the College National Finals Rodeo where Dawson “Sticky” Gleaves and Jace Helton won the reserve champion titles in bull riding and team roping, respectively.
- Updated the board on the nearly completed underground utility construction being completed by the City of Weatherford near the Kingsley Building. Construction on the walk trails has now begun. The trails will run from the roundabout behind Stuart Field and Roger Williams Ballpark and down to the Doss Heritage and Culture Center. They will ultimately connect to the city trail system.
- Brought attention to the grant-funded electric vehicle charging stations constructed in the parking lot next to the Alkek Fine Arts Center using grant funds.
- Announced the resignation of Leslie Bearden, fine arts administrative assistant.
- Provided an enrollment report on the summer and fall semesters. As of Monday, July 10, there were 1,834 students enrolled in the summer, up 7.2 percent from last year and 2,523 students enrolled for fall, up 19.1 percent year-to-date.