Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Regional Works Councils today announced the 2015 Innovative Career and Technical Education (CTE) Grant recipients, which included a $223,809 grant to the NIPSCO Energy Academy in Michigan City – a partnership of the La Porte County Career and Technical Education Program, Michigan City Area Schools and NIPSCO.
The grants, provided by the Indiana General Assembly, are designed to support new learning opportunities at the regional level that involve collaborations between local business and education partners. Statewide, eight projects were awarded grants for the 2015 cycle, totaling more than $1 million. Funds awarded to La Porte County’s CTE program will support an expansion of Energy related course offerings, energy simulators, lab equipment, a summer internship program, career awareness for early grades, teacher and mentor training, and more.
The NIPSCO Energy Academy launched this Fall, preparing area students for high-demand jobs in the electronics, energy and utility industries. It is the only initiative of its kind in Indiana, and is open to students from Michigan City High School, La Porte High School, New Prairie High School, South Central High School, La Crosse High School, and Westville High School.
Representatives from the La Porte County Career and Technical Education Program, Michigan City Area Schools, NIPSCO, Ivy Tech Community College and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) were at the ceremony Tuesday in the Indiana Statehouse, where Governor Pence personally awarded the recipients and commended them for their initiative.
The Indiana Governor commented on the effort at a recent ribbon cutting event stating, “It is my hope that this new Energy pathway will encourage students to consider future career opportunities in a truly up-and-coming field in this state.”
“This grant provides us with resources that will help us expand learning opportunities in this critical field for students in La Porte County,” said Audra Peterson, director of La Porte County CTE.
Initial funding for the project was made possible by NIPSCO and the NiSource Foundation, which has committed $100,000 over three years to provide materials, equipment, training, and supplies. In addition, NIPSCO will support the Energy Academy through mentoring, internships, speakers, field trips and curricular guidance. These funds and in-kind contributions fulfilled a matching requirement of the Indiana CTE grant.
“Innovative partnerships like the NIPSCO Energy Academy are the kind of proactive, front-end efforts we need in our region to help build the highly skilled and qualified workforce of tomorrow,” added NIPSCO president, Kathleen O’Leary.
The Energy Academy curriculum incorporates hands-on experiences in electromechanical installation and maintenance, energy and environmental technology, public utilities, and residential and commercial energy. Dual college credits for Energy Academy courses are provided through Ivy Tech Community College, and students earn professional certifications through the Center for Energy Workforce Development and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.