By Barry Lemoine
Nunez Community College was a focal point in Louisiana's celebration of Manufacturing Week, hosting Gov. John Bel Edwards and a number of elected officials and dignitaries at its newly renovated Kane Technology Center.
The event highlighted the importance of manufacturing jobs that are critical to the workforce and the many pathways available for those careers at the community college.
In addition to showcasing its established programs, like PTEC, industrial maintenance, electrical construction, welding and HVAC, the Nunez event spotlighted the college's newest program -- the Aerospace Manufacturing Program, the first of its kind in the state.
Dr. Tina Tinney, the Chancellor at Nunez and the host of the celebration, called this new program "a game changer."
"Nunez was chosen to implement a unique program in aerospace manufacturing technology that has fueled an explosion of excitement in the community and region," Tinney said. "We have already surpassed the initial goal of student enrollment for the program and look forward to continued growth."
Tinney credited the support of parish president Guy McInnis and the St. Bernard Parish Council for helping Nunez launch this program with Boeing, the world's
leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems.
"Students will be training for jobs with Boeing and NASA in what will be a cutting edge, state-of-the-art training facility," she said.
Tinney also stressed the importance of the Kane Center in creating additional manufacturing opportunities.
"The opportunity to showcase modern manufacturing is critical to demonstrate how starkly different it is from past perceptions of manufacturing," Tinney said.
"With the opening of our Kane Technology Center, Nunez is revitalizing the career and technical programs that are keystones to economic prosperity. Most importantly, these skills lead to high wage, high demand jobs and make our students attractive and marketable to an employer in two years or less."
In his remarks, Edwards spoke about the Louisiana initiative called "Dream It. Do It." The campaign dispels misconceptions about the manufacturing industry and encourages students and young adults to consider careers in this profession.
"Manufacturing represents a key component of Louisiana's strong business economy, and it provides more than 139,000 Louisiana residents with fulfilling careers," Edwards said. "We are proud to participate in the Dream It. Do It. campaign to share with the students of Louisiana all the possibilities that are available in this field.
"With the support of local and regional workforce partners and our community and technical colleges, this campaign will encourage our young people to explore the opportunities available in manufacturing and gain new insights into the careers of tomorrow."
He also pointed out the myriad of opportunities available to students at Nunez and stressed how impactful a career in a science and technology can be. He explained how workers in a STEM based career, on average, earn twice as much as those in a non-STEM field.
Also on stage as featured speakers for the afternoon were Dr. Monty Sullivan, president of Louisiana's Community and Technical College System; Jennifer Boland-Masterson, Boeing Michoud Assembly facility operations director and site leader; and Brad Lambert, Louisiana Economic Development deputy secretary.
Tinney said Louisiana Economic Development and the LED FastStart have been catalysts for getting the aerospace program "off the ground. Their support and professionalism have been critical to a successful implementation."
Following the program, guests toured the manufacturing and skilled trades departments, engaging with students and faculty.
Tinney also used her time to thank Edwards for his unwavering commitment to higher education and to the entire St. Bernard community for its support of the college.
"Today was a great day not only for Nunez Community College, but truly for St. Bernard Parish, our region and our state," she said. "We are an affordable means by which people can obtain the skills and education that ultimately changes their quality of life. It's hard not to be excited about the future of our students and the future of Nunez when you are in a room with such incredible support from our state, community and industry partners."
For information about the manufacturing programs offered at Nunez, visit www.NUNEZ.edu or call 504.278.6467. Second semester classes begin Oct. 15, and registration is open.
Barry Lemoine writes about people and events in St. Bernard Parish. To reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.