Union Pacific grant boosts college welding program

A $12,000 grant from Union Pacific Foundation’s “Community Ties Giving Program” will provide critical new equipment for students enrolled in Advanced Manufacturing & Metals Fabrication at Columbia Gorge Community College.

The grant to Columbia Gorge Community College Foundation, an Oregon non-profit, allows the college to obtain oxy-acetylene tanks and a transport cart for gas welding classes. Aaron Hunt, senior public affairs director for Union Pacific, and Shawn Hill, manager road operations for Union Pacific, conveyed the contribution to CGCC Foundation Executive Director Wendy Patton in October. (Hill is also a graduate of The Dalles High School.)

Joining them for the presentation were Robert Wells-Clark, lead instructor for Advanced Manufacturing, and students enrolled in the first year of this two-year career-tech training program.

“For nearly 160 years, Union Pacific has been committed to building America – serving as an economic engine and improving the standard of life for millions,” Hunt said. “Building upon this heritage, Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program builds safe, prosperous, vibrant and inclusive communities by investing in high-quality nonprofits and programs in the cities and towns in which we operate, and our employees live and work. This investment in The Dalles is an example of Union Pacific’s community focus.”

“We’re very happy to have the support of Union Pacific to grow our program and provide capable workforce solutions,” Wells-Clark said. “It’s exciting to be able to train students to fit into the modern railroad industry and its extremely competitive wages and excellent benefits.”

“Just as Union Pacific’s mission is to improve the standard of living for millions, CGCC Foundation is here to ensure the college is a vital, accessible, premier educational resource,” Patton noted. “Partnerships like this allow us to create a robust workforce for our community and beyond.”

Advanced manufacturing students learn three levels of welding technology (from stick to alloys) plus related skills such as blueprint reading, manufacturing processes, technical mathematics, tube and pipe fabrication and repair, design, sheet metal fabrication, basic machining, quality assurance, CAD/CAM for manufacturing, solid modeling, industrial automation, lean practices and material science. The program will eventually lead to a baccalaureate degree, currently under development.

Advanced Manufacturing students, as well as students enrolled in Construction Technology and Electro-Mechanical Technology at CGCC, also benefit from a $100,000 scholarship grant awarded this year to CGCC by the band Metallica’s “All Within My Hands” Foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges. The goal of the Metallica Scholars Initiative is to promote and advocate for the dignity of professional trades and the role of community colleges in preparing students for those trades.

Information on-line: Advanced Manufacturing & Metals Fabrication / www.cgcc.edu/advanced-manufacturing. / CGCC Foundation scholarships / www.cgccfoundation.org. Union Pacific Foundation Community giving program / www.up.com/aboutup/community/foundation/index.htm

Photo: Union Pacific public affairs director Aaron Hunt (center left), and Shawn Hill, UP road operations manager, (center right), present $12,000 contribution to Wendy Patton, CGCC Foundation Executive Director, joined by Advanced Manufacturing faculty and students in the Columbia Gorge Regional Skills Center. (CGCC photo)