Industry Partnerships Increase Opportunities for Hill College Students
Partnerships with industry are creating new opportunities for Hill College students.
Agreements with Snap-On Tools, Lincoln Electric and Trane Heating and Air Conditioning mean Hill College students will be trained to industry standards in just a few short months. And they will be highly desired for these jobs.
“I think in higher education we haven’t done a good enough job of promoting technical programs,” said Rex Parcells, vice president for instruction at Hill College. “We always tell students to transfer and get their bachelor’s degree. But now we see people with four-year degrees coming back to get technical certificates.”
“We often think of technical ‘trades’ programs as ‘greasy,’ but nowadays, even though you do work with your hands, so much of the work is done on computers,” Parcells said.
An agreement signed with Snap-On Tools in 2010 set the stage for others to come. Lincoln Electric announced last fall that it would partner with the Hill welding program in both Hillsboro and Cleburne, and Trane Heating and Air Conditioning signed an agreement just this month.
The agreement signed with Trane is the first such partnership in Texas, and Trane is committed to establishing a total of ten in this state.
“When a student graduates from one of our programs they will have multiple certifications they can take to their employer,” Parcells said. “This gives the employer a better understanding of the skills they have coming in.”
With the Trane agreement, Hill College gets a 50 percent discount on all equipment used for training. But, not only that, the same discount will apply to any HVAC systems Hill replaces or installs on any of its campuses.
One big expense will be the ice plant for the building known as Dudley III in the Hill College Technical Certification Center in downtown Cleburne. This will be the centerpiece in alternative energy program which will both teach students and provide air conditioning. Ice will be frozen at night, when temperatures are cooler and electricity is cheaper; then in the day the AC system will go off the grid and cool the building with the ice.
Trane will help design this air conditioning system, along with three labs for the HVAC program: Residential, Commercial, and Electrical. These labs will become the models that will serve as the basis for all future programs throughout Texas, Parcells said.
He said the plan is to have the residential lab up and running in time for Fall 2014 classes.
The Snap-On and Trane partnerships fall under the auspices of the National Coalition of Certification Centers, or NC3, which offers certifications across the transportation, aviation and energy sectors. Snap-On falls under transportation and Trane under energy. Aviation mechanics and sheet metal are possible future program opportunities for Hill College.
The Lincoln Electric partnership doesn’t fall within the NC3 program but follows some of the same principles. NC3 benefits to the educational institution include a national role in industry training policy, world-class facilities, graduates prepared to industry standards, and industry-driven career pathways. The industry partners also benefit with direct input to educational standards, access to emerging and transitioning workforce, development of portable credentials, and enabling research and development around emerging technologies.
“I would like to see Lincoln get involved in NC3 because they could develop some certifications for what they want in the industry,” Parcells said.
Another benefit is to public schools, which must develop curricula to meet new standards set by House Bill 5 requiring students to begin training on particular career tracks beginning at Grade 9. One of the tracks would be technical, and through its dual enrollment program, Hill College could help high schools provide state-of-the-art, hands-on technical training.
“We will be able to provide programs the high schools don’t have,” Parcells said. “The schools can’t place high-dollar, technical programs on every campus and Cleburne is in a great location for students in a wide area.”