PTC Recognized for Excellence at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing

Piedmont Technical College’s work with the businesses in Laurens County through the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) has won the College another national recognition.

PTC was selected as a finalist for a prestigious 2015 Bellwether Award, which recognizes outstanding, innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future.

“We’re honored to be chosen to present again,” said Dr. Ray Brooks, PTC president. “The Bellwether conference hosts some of the top community colleges in the country and it’s a huge compliment to be chosen again.”

The awards are part of the Community College Futures Assembly, established in 1995. Sponsored by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida, the assembly focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that other colleges might find worthy of replicating. This is the third time the College has been recognized by the organization.

The Bellwether Awards are given annually in three categories: Instructional Programs & Services; Planning, Governance & Finance; and Workforce Development. The Bellwether has been called “the award of awards,” and has been compared to football’s Heisman Award because it is competitively judged and is an award given by community college peers, with no cash award. 

PTC was one of 10 finalists in the Workforce Development category for “The Center for Advanced Manufacturing: Pathways Unbound.” The finalists were chosen from nominations submitted for community college programs across the United States.

The CAM came about thanks to a partnership between Piedmont Technical College, the PTC Foundation, county and city governments, Laurens County Economic Development Corporation and local industry. The facility was initially planned to provide readySC, a division of the South Carolina Technical College System, with a dedicated space to meet ZF Group’s initial training needs in collaboration with PTC industrial faculty. However, industry leaders throughout the county saw the Center’s potential to benefit their operations.

The CAM houses CNC labs, CMM labs and classrooms which will benefit regional industry and the residents of Laurens County for years to come. The CAM partnership has met the needs of local industry by providing the area workforce with a means for upgrading their skills with relevant technology-based training.

“We are excited by this award and to be able to present at the conference,” said Rusty Denning, associate vice president of Continuing Education at PTC. “This gives us the opportunity to showcase to other continuing education organizations how we partner with our curriculum counterparts at the college and make it work.”

The Center for Advanced Manufacturing has also been recognized by other organizations. Piedmont Technical College’s Continuing Education and Economic Development division won the 2014 National Exemplary Program Award from the National Council for Continuing Education & Training (NCCET) for its work at the CAM. In 2013, the South Carolina Technical College System won an International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Excellence in Economic Development Award for its work with ZF Transmissions the CAM.

Photo Caption: Representatives from Piedmont Technical College recently presented on the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the annual Bellwether competition in Orlando. Participants were, from left, Susan Heath, area director, readySC; Carla Whitlock, apprenticeship consultant, Apprenticeship Carolina; Rusty Denning, associate vice president of PTC Continuing Education and Economic Development; Lisa Bartanus, training director for corporate training, PTC; and Kirk White, immediate past president, National Council for Continuing Education and Training.