$1 million grant awarded to Saddleback College to train engineers

Adam Jones

The United States Department of Labor awarded a $1 million grant to Saddleback College to train American citizens for engineering jobs currently held by foreign citizens inside the United States.

Saddleback’s Math, Science, and Engineering Division and RapidTech, the National Center for Additive Manufacturing are the primary recipients of the grant for Saddleback.

The grant, which will be paid over four years, consists of approximately $776,000 for Saddleback’s MSE Division, and $317,000 for RapidTech.

“Congratulations to our Chemistry and Mathematics Departments and our RapidTech program for their work in securing this grant, which will help us build a program around the incredible talents of Dr. Jim Zoval, Frank Gonzalez, Ken Patton, and Ed Tackett to train students for in-demand jobs for many years to come,” said Tod Burnett, the college president.

“The Bridges to Engineering Program at Saddleback is sure to become a model for other colleges that seek to train engineers for jobs here in Orange County,” Burnett said.

The Orange County Bridges to Engineering program consists of an accelerated math bridge program, tutoring for students, specialized counseling and mentoring support, research opportunities, internships, and on-the-job training sponsored by local engineering and biotech firms, according to Saddleback’s news release.

The program aims to help students articulate into engineering pathways that exist in the California State University and University of California systems. Through the program, Saddleback hopes to increase the participation of minorities and women in engineering and increase the supply of qualified engineers in Orange County, according to the news release.

Jim Zoval, a chemistry instructor, and Frank Gonzalez, a math instructor, are co-project directors for the MSE portion of the grant.

Instructor emeritus Ken Patton and Advanced Technology Center Director Ed Tackett will manage the grant funding given to RapidTech.

“Saddleback’s MSE division and RapidTech are required to expend the funds awarded pursuant to very specific requirements of the grant,” said Cathy Arreguin, Saddleback’s grants analyst.

“For the MSE division share, funds are scheduled to be expended to support additional faculty, counseling services, lab supplies, tutorial services, clerical assistance, program oversight and field trips for students in the Bridge 2 Engineering program,” Arreguin said.

Many grants target their funding at specific areas of a proposal or project, disallowing the recipients of the grant to do as they please with the money. In this case, the recipients were pleased with the areas covered by the grant.

“Professor Gonzales and I have not identified any areas in this project that we would like to spend money on outside of the items in the proposal budget,” said Zoval.

“The RapidTech share of the grant funds will support needed supplies and staffing to run a summer academy focused on interactive learning through advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing,” Arreguin said.

“Students will also have the opportunity to apply the math and engineering concepts and skills learned in the classroom during the RapidTech summer program,” Arreguin said.

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