Madisonville Community College received a grant for over $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor and will use the funding for start-up costs associated with a new diesel mechanics program to be offered in the fall of 2022.
“When we put together a grant proposal like this, we have to demonstrate need, and everywhere we turned, employers were telling us there was a compelling need for diesel mechanics,” said David Schuermer, director of Grants, Planning and Institutionally Effectiveness at MCC.
The Department of Labor awarded over $29 million in grant money to 23 organizations across the U.S. while partnering with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority to reach rural communities, according to a news release.
MCC received their grant through the Delta Regional Authority, said Schuermer.
“The Delta Regional Authority serves over 250 counties and eight different states, mostly states contiguous to the Mississippi River,” he said.
The $1.1 million will be used to purchase equipment like engines for training the students, tools, and hydraulic lifts for the state-of-the-art diesel training lab, he said. The money will also pay the salary and benefits for a full-time coordinator for the duration of the grant, which is three years.
“The plan is — once we launch the program — we will build enough enrollment to sustain that position post-grant,” said Schuermer.
The new diesel mechanics program will be housed at the former Dotiki Mine site in Webster County, along with the CDL program, he said.
“Pairing that CDL program with the diesel mechanics [program] at the same site allows the students who will be enrolled in the diesel mechanic program to not only learn how to do that but also to service our diesel-driven tractor-trailers that will be housed out there,” said Schuermer.
MCC partnered with the Webster County Fiscal Court to lease part of the mine site to use as a training center, he said. Webster County obtained over $800,000 in grant money to purchase the mine to use as post-secondary programming.
MCC President Dr. Cynthia Kelley said the new diesel mechanics program will be a great complement to the lineman and CDL programs that will also be housed at the West Kentucky Regional Training Center.
“At MCC, our goal is to partner with our communities and help drive economic growth by training students for careers in high-growth, high-wage fields,” she said. “Thanks to our partners in Webster County, we are able to bring that opportunity to the region, and that’s something to be excited about.”
Schuermer said because of the mine location, the college can establish dual-credit partnerships with high schools in Hopkins, Crittenden, Union and Webster counties. The diesel mechanics program is also open to any adult learner who wants to enroll as well.
“It is not too far a drive from each one of those schools should students choose to enroll as dual credit students,” he said.
MCC has not received the money from the Department of Labor yet. Schuermer said it may take several weeks, but once they do, they will start purchasing equipment and advertising for an instructor.