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Federal money will fuel alternative energy instruction at HCC

June 29, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- A $1.79 million federal grant announced Tuesday will let Hagerstown Community College train people for jobs connected to alternative energy.

HCC was one of two Maryland recipients as the U.S. Department of Labor awarded $125 million in its final round of Community-Based Job Training Grants.

HCC President Guy Altieri said in a phone interview Tuesday that the college began its alternative energy program this spring. About 25 students are taking classes.

With the grant money, the college will expand the program by hiring more full-time faculty, adding adjunct teachers and purchasing new equipment.

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The college expects to have about 675 slots for students in a three-year period, Altieri said. The program offers course work, certificates and degrees.

"Those of us at HCC were quite excited to secure this grant," he said.

The money was announced Tuesday during a conference call with Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and reporters.

"These grants were won on mission and they were won on merit," Mikulski said. "There was no pork barrel here."

The other Maryland recipient was Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp., a nonprofit organization that will get $4.95 million for cybersecurity and information assurance training.

Altieri said HCC's program has three components: photovoltaic/solar, wind turbine and geothermal. The college offers certificates in each.

He said alternative energy is one of three subject areas the college is emphasizing to keep up with the future.

A biotechnology program started in 2007.

The third piece will be cybersecurity. Altieri said HCC is pursuing grants in that field.

About four weeks ago, the college broke ground on a five-story Science, Technology, Engineering and Math center.

Tuesday's round of grant announcements was the fifth and last the Department of Labor made.

The department said in a news release that it distributed about $622 million among 301 community colleges and other organizations in 49 states in the last four years.

More than 147,000 people received job training because of the first four rounds of awards, the news release says.

HCC applied for money in the spring and received its full request.

A Department of Labor summary says HCC expects to work with several private and public partners on the alternative energy program, including: Control Systems, Ellsworth Electric, Glory Energy Solutions, Industrial Technology & Alternative Energy Boards, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Millennium 3 Energy, Mountain View Solar, Total Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, Washington County Division of Public Works, Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission and Western Maryland Consortium.

The college will purchase a manufactured home to give participants hands-on training in alternative energy industry methods.

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