54 students registered for Connect 4 program
By Haley Schichtl
Connect 4 board president Rodney Ellis announced at a board meeting Thursday, Oct. 1, that there are 54 students registered for C4 this semester.
Ellis said the new C4 teacher, Dustin Wilson, was certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and received his teaching license over the summer.
Instructor James Knight announced that C4 placed 17 graduates into local industries in the spring and summer.
Mike Armstrong of Tyson Foods said that the graduates who are now working at Tyson are doing well so far.
Knight said C4 is working on starting more internships, including one at Multi-Craft Contractors (MCC), which is located in Springdale.
“They’re real interested in developing some internships for our kids in different areas,” he said. “They’ve got electrical, welding, HVAC, anything you can think of.”
He said Barrows Excavation, based in Berryville, is also interested in getting involved.
“We’ve still got industry we haven’t really tapped yet,” Ellis said. “We’re going to try to target some of those this year.”
Knight talked about some of the companies that have hired C4 grads and have also come to C4 classes to talk to the students. He said Nighthawk and RGS Electrical are both hoping to send someone soon, and representatives from Tyson, Island Airco, Hutchens Construction Asphalt Plant and Carroll Electric have spoken at some classes.
“Wilson Combat is giving us a bunch of tools and materials, done tours and helped us develop some programs, but we haven’t really gotten anyone placed there yet,” Knight said.
Knight said he is working on getting a quote for getting welders wired up.
“Once that’s accomplished, then we can start talking about getting an adult ed program started up,” Knight said.
The board approved the purchase of online tests from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Ellis said they are still waiting on a quote. C4 teaches NCCER curriculum, but has been using a paper format for the tests.
“If I have a student who needs to take the test four times, it’s regenerating a new test every time he takes it,” Ellis said. “As soon as they put the numbers in, it automatically registers them in that pre-apprenticeship registry, NCCER. They’ve been doing that all by hand and keeping track of the paperwork.”
He said each test is about $3, and the program will probably have to purchase extra for any students that don’t pass it the first time.
“That’s something that, moving forward, we’re probably going to want to do,” Ellis said. “If we get to a position where we can only bring students in to do the hands-on portion — they still have to do the hands-on part in person — then they can only be here two or three days a week. So the other two days while they’re doing all their other academic work online, they could be working on their NCCER.”
Ellis said things are going well with the partnership with North Arkansas College so far.
C4 had to come up with a certificate of proficiency, which currently adds up to 23 credit hours, but they will need to increase it to at least 24.
“I’m going to work with them to get every ounce of credit that we can get,” Ellis said. “So far, we’ve been able to keep it the way we want it.”
The board then voted to use the funding from the partnership with NAC to pay C4 salaries and equipment if it is needed.
The board also voted to purchase a PLC trainer and two variable speed drives after they receive a quote if funds allow before the end of the year. Ellis said he expects it all to cost about $3,000.
“I think it will be really beneficial to this program,” Ellis said. “We’ll get to a higher level on the electrical side…. I’m also hoping to work this into more credit at NAC.”