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Penn College gets grant for new programs

WILLIAMSPORT — A three-year National Science Foundation grant is supporting Pennsylvania College of Technology’s development of two certificates and an associate degree to meet the growing need for technicians in non-destructive testing.

The nearly $600,000 grant — A Collaborative Approach to Expanding Nondestructive Testing Education Within a Welding Program — is funded by the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education program, which is geared to the education of technicians for advanced-technology fields that drive the nation’s economy, such as non-destructive testing.

Non-destructive testing employs various technologies — including ultrasound and X-ray analysis — to test the safety of structures, vehicles or vessels. Technicians help prevent injury or loss of life by ensuring that infrastructure industries meet quality and safety assurance requirements.

“There is both a high demand for non-destructive testing and a shortage of training programs,” said Bradley M. Webb, dean of industrial, computing and engineering technologies. “We believe our initiatives will successfully address both of those issues.”

Those initiatives include two stand-alone certificates in non-destructive testing methods (radiography and ultrasound). Both of the short-term programs are being built to comply with American Society for Non-Destructive Testing Level II certification.

The college is also developing an associate degree in non-destructive testing and welding.

“Our review of NDT programs across the country didn’t show any with an in-depth examination and understanding of the science or process of welding,” Webb said. “Our degree will combine a year of welding instruction with a year focusing on non-destructive testing. Penn College will be offering a unique approach for educating new NDT examiners.”

The college’s 55,000-square-foot welding facility — believed to be the largest in U.S. higher education — includes a non-destructive testing lab with advanced technology.

Thanks to the grant, it’s anticipated that the certificate programs will be offered for the 2021-22 Academic Year, followed a year later by the associate degree.

Webb and James N. Colton II, assistant professor of welding, assisted with the grant application. Michael J. Nau, instructor of welding, serves as the grant’s principal investigator.

For information on degrees and certificates offered by the School of Engineering Technologies, visit www.pct.edu/et or call 570-327-4520.

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