UACCM Academic Programs Awarded Regional Workforce Grants


Students operate a piece of equipment at the industrial mechanics lab

Several academic programs are getting a boost at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton after the college received $344,000 in Regional Workforce Grants from the Arkansas Division of Higher Education.

The equipment purchases conducted through these grants will focus on simulation opportunities for health-related students, technology cross-training for various academic programs, and more instructional tools for commercial driver training classes. The grants will expand opportunities to students studying nursing assisting; computer information systems; air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration technology (HVAC); and industrial mechanics and maintenance technology (IMMT). Some of the grants also go to non-credit training courses at the college’s Workforce Development and Community Education department.

According to Chancellor Lisa Willenberg, the grants will have a discernable impact on the college as equipment is introduced in classrooms and training labs. 

“These grants will provide relevant equipment and timely renovations to facilities to more realistically prepare and fast-track students for careers in each of the areas of long-term care, commercial truck driving, and computer information systems, all high-demand fields,” she said. “What’s also exciting about grant funds is without them, we are limited to expanding labs and equipment from our standard, often declining, budgets.”

Notes Dr. Richard Counts, vice chancellor of academics, "The funds received through the Regional Workforce Grants will allow UACCM to enhance its offerings in both credit and non-credit programs.  The additional funding will be utilized to purchase state of the art training materials and equipment that will ensure that UACCM students continue to be provided with the necessary skills to be successful in today's competitive markets." 

With this additional funding, it will expand the clinical experience for nursing assisting students, who study about the care for residents of long-term care facilities.

“The Nursing Department is excited to receive new beds and manikins for the Nursing Assistant students to use in their lab,” said Darrell Moore, dean of health professions and natural sciences. “These items and the new lifts and geriatric chairs are great upgrades to the equipment available for Nursing Assistant students. Our goal is to provide clinical lab experiences as close to real-world applications as possible.”

This grant also means a large investment in new equipment that blends information technology and the college’s technical fields. With technology ingrained in businesses and residences, smart homes for example, many types of equipment require technicians in both information technology and mechanics to install or provide maintenance. This grant allows cross training to allow students in multiple fields to operate the current high-tech equipment and to understand both the machinery and the high-tech controls needed to operate them.

Among the purchases are technology that will be used to create an independent network between the IMMT and HVAC programs.

“Students in IMMT and HVAC will cross train in the computer information systems program by taking a networking essentials class,” said Robert Keeton, dean of technical studies. “While computer information systems students will train in the HVAC and IMMT labs to understand the mechanical side of the equipment.”

The commercial driver training non-credit program, within UACCM Workforce Development & Community Education, will gain a Virage commercial driving simulator and a variety of instructional materials, including training for school bus drivers.

Passed into law in 2015, the Workforce Initiative Act Regional Workforce Grant Program seeks to create a statewide, comprehensive structure enabling students in Arkansas universities, community colleges and secondary centers to participate in career and technical education programs developed with input from area employers.


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