Students enrolling in several advanced manufacturing programs at Patrick Henry Community College may benefit from financial support, thanks to a scholarship donation from the Gene Haas Foundation.
A $15,000 check, presented to the PHCC Foundation by Haas Specialist Ed Blackburn, will be used for student machinist-based training or engineering programs, according to the criteria of the grant.
PHCC offers associate degrees and certificates in general engineering, motorsports, motorsports engineering, industrial controls and other advanced manufacturing fields. With manufacturing as the second largest employer in the college’s service region, advanced manufacturing comprised more than 18 percent of the area’s employment in 2013.
The Gene Haas Foundation was founded in 1999 to fund the needs of the local community and other deserving charities. Gene Haas is the owner Haas Automation, Inc., America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools, which he started in 1983. Haas Automation is a now a billion dollar company and this extraordinary growth has all come in an era when American’s were being told that the United States doesn’t manufacture anything here anymore, according to the Haas website.
Those perceptions and decisions made in the education system regarding vocational education have lead to dire statistics, the website states. A recent report called “The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 and Beyond” projects that, “Over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled, and the skills gap is expected to result in two million of those jobs going unfilled.”
Haas’ commitment to the importance of U.S> manufacturing has incited him to grow his personal foundation and direct his foundation board to focus on manufacturing education and grants for scholarships for students entering CNC machinist training have been a key area of focus. Grants are funded that help some strong technical programs that teach these skills grow and expand.