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NOVA partners with local industries to create mechatronics degree program and fabrication laboratory through GO Virginia grant

(Pictured left to right) Molly Lynch, NOVA-Manassas Provost; Zuzana Steen, Micron Academic and Community Relations Manager; Tim O’Brien, Micron Site Director; Scott Ralls, NOVA President and John Renner, NOVA Foundation Board Chairman.
(Pictured left to right) Molly Lynch, NOVA-Manassas Provost; Zuzana Steen, Micron Academic and Community Relations Manager; Tim O’Brien, Micron Site Director; Scott Ralls, NOVA President and John Renner, NOVA Foundation Board Chairman.

Northern Virginia Community College is pleased to announce new, strategic initiatives to both spark young peoples’ interest in technology and to offer new, industry-demanded degree programs. Through the Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) economic development program, NOVA was approved in the first round of project grants to create a state-of-the-art engineering technology Fabrication Laboratory, referred to as the “Fab Lab” at NOVA’s Manassas Campus. As a joint collaboration with reputable industries Micron Technology, U.S. Army’s Night Vision and Sensors Directorate and BAE Systems, the project will establish resources needed to grow and strengthen the current and future engineering technology workforce in Northern Virginia. The Fab Lab will serve as a hub to connect industry to the developing technology workforce, support NOVA’s industry-aligned Engineering Technology program. It will also be leveraged by NOVA’s STEM outreach program, NOVA SySTEMic, to inspire K-12 interest and encourage future generations to pursue careers in engineering technology.

The GO Virginia Board of Directors, which is comprised of members of the Governor’s cabinet, the General Assembly, business community, and others, approved more than $2.2 million in GO Virginia Per Capita grant funding for five projects throughout the Commonwealth. Projects approved for funding were reviewed by subject matter experts and Board members for alignment with the goals of the region’s Growth and Diversification plan and GO Virginia. According to former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Fab Lab, in addition to the other four state projects, will leverage public and private funding to grow and diversify each region’s economy to assist in creating job opportunities in areas such as cybersecurity and workforce development.

Local contributors Micron Technology, U.S. Army’s Night Vision and Sensors Directorate and BAE Systems have made significant investments to assist in developing the Fab Lab as a means to grow and diversify the workforce with highly-trained professionals. The Micron Foundation, a major contributor to NOVA SySTEMic, is investing $100,000 toward the project. Since the inception of the program, Interim Director of NOVA SySTEMic Chad Knights said the Micron Foundation has been instrumental in furthering NOVA SySTEMic’s STEM outreach efforts throughout Northern Virginia.

“The Micron Foundation’s generous donation of $100,000 will create cutting-edge technology learning opportunities for K-12 and NOVA students by supporting the creation of a Fabrication Laboratory,” Knights said. “The Fab Lab will connect industry partners to the community and engage and cultivate student interest in emerging technologies. We are tremendously grateful to the Micron Foundation and all of our industry partners for sharing our vision and supporting our program.”

Founded in 2010, NOVA SySTEMic is a public-private partnership among school divisions, the business community, NOVA and universities established to develop a pipeline of students pursuing a STEM degree or certificate. The initiative is addressing the STEM shortage in Northern Virginia by bolstering STEM activities and career exploration opportunities for students. Micron has also made significant contributions to NOVA SySTEMic’s STEM EXPO events, VEX robotics competitions, engineering competitions, STEM laboratories, summer robotics and training programs.

“NOVA has been a great partner in the community and we are proud to have been a supporter of SySTEMic Solutions since its inception in 2010,” said Dee Mooney, executive director of the Micron Foundation. “We are glad to be able to sponsor the Fab Lab as it will promote awareness of technology and technology-related careers and provide training and access to cutting-edge industry technology.”

The Fab Lab will offer state-of-the-art equipment for instructional and training use, some of which will include a 3D scanner, multiple 3D printers, a laser engraver, modular automation systems, electronics and power control systems, computer numerical control (CNC) router, a CNC-based subtractive prototyping unit, a circuit prototyping system and SolidWorks software to support computer-aided design projects.

In conjunction with the Fab Lab, NOVA is adding mechatronics and engineering technology to their degree program offerings for individuals with an interest in jobs in the fields of mechanical, industrial or electrical engineering technology.

The College will begin offering courses at the Manassas Campus for the program during the fall 2018 semester, with a full launch of the AAS program and opening of the Fab Lab in 2019. NOVA students enrolled in the new program as well as NOVA SySTEMic K-12 participants will utilize the Fab Lab for technological research, experimentation and hands-on learning. The Lab will be housed in the NOVA-Manassas Battleview Technology Center (MBV), 10950 Campus Drive, Manassas.

For additional information on NOVA SySTEMic, visit their website.

Media Contact: Kristina Ogburn | 703.503.6338 | kogburn@nvcc.edu

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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.