LOGAN – Bridgerland Technical College is the recent recipient of two significant grants that will help the college prepare a technical workforce for local and national employers. The first grant came from the Gene Haas Foundation for $250,000. In part, the grant will establish the “Gene Haas Center for Machining Innovation” at the Logan campus. Chief Development Officer Frank Stewart says Gene Haas is the originator of specialized machining equipment that is used in almost every machine shop in the country. Stewart says the Haas Foundation’s grant to Bridgerland Technical College (BTECH) had one caveat.
“The funding cannot be used to purchase Gene Haas equipment, specifically,” Stewart explains. “It has to be for something that is going to upgrade and create better opportunities for students within that specific department.”
That $250,000 will be used to purchase new computer equipment for students, to remodel classrooms and laboratory space, and to install new windows in the hallways for better visibility when parents and students visit the college for recruiting purposes.
Stewart says BTECH has been working toward this grant for several years with grant writing and hosted a Gene Haas Foundation educational regional conference last October.
The second grant the college received was for nearly $500,000, this time coming from the National Science Foundation. Grants from the National Science Foundation often go to large research institutions, and it’s quite rare that they would provide funds to a technical college. But Stewart says the $500,000 will serve multiple purposes at BTECH.
“We currently have three…three-axis machines in our department. This grant will allow us to purchase two, brand new five-axis machines, ironically from the Gene Haas Industry out of Oxnard, California. It will increase the status of our program and mainly the ability and training opportunities for us. It will also upgrade our technician training; it will help us with our curriculum development.”
Stewart says the new equipment, and the opportunity to remodel some of the laboratory learning at BTECH, will help students at the college fill high wage, high demand jobs. And many of the careers are close to home.
“Over 70% of manufacturing firms in Utah are located north of Davis County. We just cannot provide technicians to them fast enough for their needs.”
In Cache Valley specifically, Stewart says there are numerous manufacturing and research firms building very unique products that are shipped worldwide. And they need skilled technicians to manufacture parts, tools, and even artificial hips. He says once a student completes his or her certification in machining technology, the placement is nearly 100% for really good job opportunities, and many of them placed in Cache Valley.
The school had already begun transitioning much of its curriculum to Canvas last fall, so when everything started closing down last March due to the coronavirus BTECH was well suited to continue many of its programs. With those programs that do require hands-on or laboratory learning, the school has been requiring masks and even staggered when and how many students could be in the lab. The school went back to being fully operational on June 1st, but still requires masks and makes its best efforts to space out students.