Leading Idaho Initiative Awards CWI Career Technical Education More than $750K in Grants

Published: September 7, 2022

College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Mechatronics and Welding programs have been awarded more than $750,000 in grants from Idaho Division of Career Technical Education (IDCTE). The funding for the grants were made possible by Idaho Governor Brad Little’s Leading Idaho initiative, where $10,000,000 was set aside specifically for investments in career technical education (CTE) in Idaho. 

Dean of CWI School of Industry Engineering and Trades, Pat Neal, brought forward a request to the College’s Provost Office to apply for the Leading Idaho grant. Neal wanted to ensure CWI CTE programs can offer students the ability to utilize the most current technology available.  

After a review of the criteria for the grant, the Provost Office and the College’s deans agreed that Welding and Metal Fabrication and Advanced Mechatronics Engineering Technology would be great programs to request funding for based on the evaluation criteria of the grant.  

CWI’s CTE programs’ requests were awarded in full.   

CWI Programs Awarded 

  • Welding and Metal Fabrication — $500,003.80 
  • Advanced Mechatronics Engineering Technology — $253,592.24 

“CWI is very thankful to Idaho Career and Technical Education Division for funding the request,” said CWI Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Denise Aberle-Cannata. 

Requests for the grants must have been focused only on equipment and related facility upgrades necessary to modernize or expand an institution’s CTE program. In addition, the programs considered must be in the top 250 occupations, have 100 job openings, or have a projected rate increase of 25% or more in the state. 

“Having the ability to provide these modernization and expansion grants to Idaho’s career technical education programs ensures we continue to accomplish our mission of preparing Idaho’s youth and adults for high-skill, in-demand careers,” said State Administrator for the Idaho Division of Career Technical Education, Clay Long. 

Department Chair of Manufacturing and Welding, Mike Wheeler, said with the grants they will purchase new technology, such as three robotic welding machines and 20 more welding machines, which he believes will allow for the ability to increase enrollment. He added the new technologies are “true do it all machines” and will allow students to accomplish more with less because of how high-tech the equipment is. 

CWI Engineering Department Chair, Robert Novak, believes similarly the grants will continue to advance CWI’s CTE programs with how state-of-the-art the new equipment is, such as the new learning systems, portable pneumatic training systems, and digital oscilloscopes. These new systems will ensure students are training on the latest in technology. He said the equipment will set them apart from other similar programs around the area. 

“The Leading Idaho Grant will help the Mechatronic and Welding programs train more students to meet the high demand of these fields,” Neal said. 

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