For Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, it’s all about working together. The two-year college — often referred to as the “crown jewel” of Cullman County by local leaders — is looking to partnerships in everything from nursing to career technology to expand the college’s reach and offerings.
Wallace State’s electronic technology program became a Alabama Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (F.A.M.E.) chapter this fall, launching a five-semester program that allows students to work and earn money while earning an associate’s degree in Industrial Maintenance. The work study program would allow students to earn as much as $33,500 over a two year span, working three days per week and attending classes two days per week.
“This is an extremely important opportunity for our students,” Wallace State Electronics Technology instructor and program head Keith Tolbert. “Those selected for this program will be considered honor technical students. They are going to be the best of the best. Students will have to meet strict criteria to be a part of this program. We’re definitely excited and honored to present this to our students.”
According to Wallace State, students in the program complete technical core principles in measurement and technical drawings, electricity, PLCs, robotics, fluid power, mechanics and fabrication in addition to system integration and industrial troubleshooting.
“We are fortunate our business and industry partners are here to help us launch FAME at Wallace State and statewide. FAME is about developing the whole professional individual. There’s value and beauty behind it. Students get exposed to you as industry leaders and you help shape that person professionally,” Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics said.
In the same vein as FAME, Wallace has also partnered with Mercedes-Benz U.S. International for a tech co-op program. The partnership allows students to earn $16-17 an hour working at the Mercedes plant, while also receiving a $400 housing allowance. Once the program is complete, students are eligible for full-time employment at the plant.
“We have demands for automotive technology students, and Wallace State has a fantastic reputation. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Mercedes-Benz International is partnering with Wallace State to create this tech program,” Rolf Wrona, Vice-President of Human Resources at Mercedes-Benz International, said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for students in this community. You can get the quality education at Wallace State and the quality work experience at Mercedes-Benz.”
Mercedes-Benz also donated two new Mercedes GLE class vehicles for Wallace State’s Automotive Service program to use for instructional training.
“Work-based learning is such a critical component in education today, especially with applied technical skills,” Barry May, Executive Director of Workforce and Economic Development for the ACCS. “This is going to make a significant impact not only to that student who’s going to be able to benefit from the program, but it will benefit Mercedes-Benz, who is going to be able to mold highly-skilled technicians.”
The college has also collaborated with additional companies through the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) program, working with companies to develop specific training and certifications for products. Programs working in the NC3 program include Auto Service, Building Construction, Collision Repair, Diesel, Engineering Technology, HVAC, Machine Tool, Mechatronics, Welding. Wallace is home to three master NC3 trainers, of just 16 nationwide.
Editor’s Note: This article appeared first in The Times’ 2019 Profile edition that published in late March.