Over $500,000 grant will be used to create flexible entry/exit version of process technology program



Monaca, PA - Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) announces its second National Science Foundation Grant (NSF) in the amount of $539,987 allowing the College to enhance its already successful and regionally-distinctive Process Technology (PTEC) program by converting its current traditional lecture/lab structure to a Flexible Entry/Flexible Exit delivery format.

The curriculum revamp will allow the College to build capacity in CCBC’s PTEC program; educate the technician workforce needed to meet the needs of the tristate region; increase program accessibility for non-traditional students and incumbent workers from the Appalachian Region interested in an associate degree in process technology, and expand partnerships to increase collaboration between education and industry within the tristate region.

The project will use a flipped-hybrid, competency-based delivery model that is detached from the traditional semester framework. This flexible model will permit faculty members to institute an “every day is a new class start” approach to increase the accessibility of the program as well as CCBC’s ability to attract, retain, and graduate diverse groups of students.

“The timing of the new teaching modality aligns perfectly with the expansion of the PTEC facilities being funded by our philanthropic partners and will increase student accessibility and the population of educated process technicians in the tristate region of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia,” stated Dr. John Higgs, Dean of CCBC’s School of Business, Arts, Sciences and Technology and principal investigator on the grant.

This new format builds upon the successful model developed by Polk State College’s with a prior NSF award, and will permit students to seamlessly enroll in CCBC’s existing PTEC technical courses at virtually any point in the academic year, complete the courses at their own pace, and increase the amount of time spent on hands-on technical education. Additionally, it will empower incumbent workers and non-traditional students from the region to enroll in the program regardless of the variability in their personal and professional schedules and earn a critical STEM-based degree that will prepare them for opportunities in the region’s rapidly expanding energy and advanced manufacturing sectors. 

“The new curriculum and expanded facilities will allow CCBC to provide students exceptional hands-on experience that will prepare them to be leaders in industry,” said Professor of Process Technology Bill Goodwin.

The project period will run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021 with the first year serving as a planning year to develop and modify curriculum. Year two will implement the flexible entry/flexible exit model for the first half of the program with the third year incorporating it across the entire program.

CCBC received letters of commitment on the grant from industry leaders BASF, ECI, Markwest-Marathon, Nova Chemicals, NRG, and Shell.

The education of credentialed process technicians is essential to satisfy a workforce need of more than 25,000 new manufacturing jobs in the region’s energy and advanced manufacturing sectors as a result of the development of the region’s natural gas reserves highlighted in a 2017 American Chemistry Council report.

CCBC’s fall semester starts August 27, and registration is still open for both day and evening Process Technology classes. Interested individuals should contact the Admissions and Registration Center at 724-480-3504 or for more information.

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About CCBC

Community College of Beaver County transforms lives through personalized education, dynamic partnerships, and high impact practices. CCBC is an Achieving the Dream Leader College and offers 64 degree, certificate and diploma programs, hundreds of Continuing Education and Workforce Development programs, seamless transfer to a wide variety of baccalaureate and graduate institutions, and a nationally distinctive high school academy dual enrollment program. The Aspen Institute named CCBC one of America’s Top 150 community colleges in 2017.

About NSF

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." NSF is vital because it supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future. With an annual budget of $7.8 billion, they are the funding source for approximately 27 percent of the total federal budget for basic research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing by issuing limited-term grants--currently about 12,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years--to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system.

Photo Caption: Dr. Higgs (left), Dean of CCBC’s School of Business, Arts, Sciences and Technology and principal investigator on the grant, and Bill Goodwin, Professor of Process Technology, stand in front of the CCBC Community Education Center which is being renovated to support the growing demands of the school’s process technology efforts.