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Duke Energy awards $250,000 to Richmond Community College

Jan 6

Richmond Community College has received a $250,000 investment from the Duke Energy Foundation to create a Structural Design Career Pathway at Scotland High School. The money will be used to purchase and install new equipment for RichmondCC classes to be taught at Scotland High.

The new Structural Design program will combine elements from RichmondCC’s Machining and Mechanical Engineering programs to include machining, computer-aided drafting and 3D printing. It will lay the foundation for an Associate Degree in Structural Design to be launched by 2018.

To develop the new program, RichmondCC will draw on its experiences in creating another highly successful program that was a first of its kind – the Electric Utility and Substation Relay Technology program.

“There are currently no programs in Structural Design in the North Carolina Community College System, so this initiative will be a first of its kind,” said RichmondCC President Dr. Dale McInnis. “By implementing the degree program, we hope to show students that skilled trades are a viable career path and to provide them with the foundational skills to enter the workforce upon graduating from high school, as well as skills that will allow them to continue their education.”

“Richmond Community College is committed to equipping its students with the skills needed to compete in emerging sectors of today’s economy,” said Duke Energy District Manager David McNeill. “We’re pleased to continue our partnership with the college to strengthen the region’s education-to-workforce initiative.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for machinists will increase by 8.8 percent between 2012 and 2022. In North Carolina, jobs for machinists are projected to increase by 7.8 percent due to a lack of experienced workers. The reason for the increase is the workforce is aging and young people are not entering trade jobs in sufficient numbers to provide replacements.

In 2012, 53 percent of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. were 45 years and older, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., and 18.6 percent were between the ages of 55 and 64. In addition, high schools have decreased the number of technical courses offered, leading to fewer young people entering trade jobs. The BLS anticipates that workers with computer skills who can perform multiple tasks in a machine shop will have the best job opportunities.

“This new pathway will provide students with those employable trade skills,” said McInnis. “Students in the Structural Design program will not only learn how to make or modify parts, but they will also design and manufacture parts and prototypes. These skills will make them more marketable in an already high demand field.”

This project is part of a broader partnership between RichmondCC and the Scotland and Richmond County school systems that is focused on increasing the number of students who graduate from high school career and college ready. RichmondCC and its K-12 partners are working to improve student math performance and provide training to high school students through college level technical courses and work-based learning opportunities.

RCC’s machine shop on the main campus in Hamlet serves Richmond County high school students. This program will provide the same opportunity to students in Scotland County to gain skills to prepare them for high-wage jobs upon graduation or a head start on completing a certificate, diploma or degree at RCC.

This grant is part of Duke Energy’s $30 million investment in North Carolina’s Community Colleges’ focus on technical education and support of business and industry. Individual community colleges can apply for funds through the NC Community Foundation. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of representatives from Duke Energy, NC Community College System and NC Department of Commerce.

About Duke Energy Foundation

Duke Energy Foundation makes charitable investments on behalf of Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the United States with 7.2 million customers in six states. Over the foundation’s long history in local communities, it has identified focus areas that maximize the foundation’s dollars and guide the foundation’s giving. In North Carolina, Duke Energy Foundation invests $16 million annually for community support and charitable contributions. To learn more about Duke Energy Foundation, visit