Gene Haas Foundation Grants $1M To Institute For Advanced Learning & Research and Danville Community College | Performance Racing Industry
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Gene Haas Foundation Grants $1M To Institute For Advanced Learning & Research and Danville Community College
April 20, 2015
The grant will be used to build the new Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining on the IALR campus in Danville, Virginia.
Gene Haas Foundation Grants $1M To Institute For Advanced Learning & Research and Danville Community College

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) and Danville Community College (DCC) are the recipients of a $1 million grant from the Gene Haas Foundation, which has granted more than $11 million to entities that champion advanced manufacturing education.

The $1 million grant will be used to build the new Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining on the IALR campus in Danville, Virginia, and support a third-year level of learning for students completing DCC’s Precision Machining Technology two-year degree program. The experience will provide students the opportunity to train in an authentic manufacturing workflow cell as part of the Capstone Integrated Machining Technology project being implemented for the first time in America through the IALR/DCC partnership.

In conjunction with the grant, a commemorative decal will adorn the decklid of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS that Kurt Busch will drive in the April 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

The Gene Haas Foundation, formed in 1999 by Haas Automation founder and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas, awarded the grant to support the new workforce training initiative of the IALR and DCC. Students will be able to earn valuable, nationally-recognized industry credentials, building upon the Level I competencies taught in DCC’s coursework to enable students at the IALR to earn Level II and Level III certifications from such esteemed organizations as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). 

“Haas Automation and the Gene Haas Foundation have been extremely generous throughout all phases of project development and implementation,” said Jerry Gwaltney, executive director, IALR. “In addition to this $1 million grant, Haas Automation has also provided $650,000 worth of high-end training equipment and has committed to upgrading the equipment every two years. This level of industry support ensures workers in Southern Virginia are among the best trained in the world. That’s what today’s employers are looking for.”

Providing scholarship funds to community colleges and vocational schools for students entering technical training programs, especially machinist-based certificate and degree programs, is of particular interest to the Gene Haas Foundation. Haas Automation, based in Oxnard, California, is the largest and most modern machine tool builder in North America.

“There are 318,000 manufacturing jobs unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers,” said Kathy Looman, administrator, Gene Haas Foundation. “That number is growing as so many people employed in this industry are baby boomers who are retiring. Manufacturing is a very promising industry that is vital to the U.S. and global economy. It offers high-paying, clean technology careers. It’s a win-win effort to help grow a local, qualified workforce for young people seeking career paths, and for local manufacturers who need qualified workers.”

A record number of certification-ready students have graduated one year into expansion of DCC’s Precision Machining Technology program. Of the 272 NIMS credentials that were awarded throughout Virginia in 2014, 96 attended DCC.

“With support from industry partners like the Gene Haas Foundation, that number will soon be doubling and even tripling,” said Bruce Scism, president, DCC. “This is a program that is going to bring the Danville region national recognition from employers and educators alike.”