Lehigh Valley college gets new funding for manufacturing training programs

Northampton Community College in Bethlehem has received $336,024 in new funding to support manufacturing programs, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger announced Wednesday. 

Two Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career (MTTC) grants were awarded to Northampton Community College. The school’s Industrial Skills for Manufacturing training program received $199,996, and the Precision Machine training program was granted $136,028. 

Siger visited the Bethlehem-based college on Wednesday and spoke of the “enormous impact” the training programs were having on students. 

“The people in these training programs are learning valuable skills that prepare them to enter the workforce and build strong, sustainable careers,” Siger said in a statement. “The investment that the Shapiro Administration is making here at Northampton Community College is an investment in Pennsylvania’s economic future.” 

The college’s Industrial Skills for Manufacturing training program curriculum includes introduction to manufacturing, workplace safety, measurement, blueprint fundamentals, basic electricity, electric relay control/programmable logic controllers, and mechanical maintenance concepts.

The aim of the Precision Machining training program is for students to learn and master the skill sets to safely and effectively operate the typical machines found in manufacturing environments. The career exploration components of the program will see students identify and align personal strengths and interests with manufacturing occupations to better understand the educational requirements, regional demand, and salaries for each.

Projects that result in short-term work-readiness, job placement, or the advancement of manufacturing are supported by the Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career grants program. The program works with area manufacturers to identify and teach essential skills for entry level applicants seeking manufacturing employment, engage youth or those with barriers to career opportunities in manufacturing, and or advance capacity for local or regional manufacturers.

Lauren Loeffler, vice president of Workforce Development, Northampton Community College, said the school is delighted to expand its relationship with DCED.

“Their support of these programs has been instrumental in helping our students, our college, and local employers to grow and move forward,” said Loeffler. “These high priority occupations are critical to the success of these businesses and our local economy long-term.”

More than 560,000 Pennsylvanians are currently employed in the state’s manufacturing industry.

NCC honored for energy efficiency


Northampton Community College has been honored for its leadership in energy efficiency. 

NRG Energy Inc. presented the community college with its excellence in Energy Award. It was the only college to receive the award. 

The Excellence in Energy Awards recognize energy consumers who demonstrate a strong commitment to the planning and achievement of their environmental and community goals.  

NCC said that since 2008, when the school started a plan to conserve energy, its CO2 emissions from energy usage have gone down by over 20% and energy use overall has been reduced by over 30%.   

Robert Gaudette, executive vice president of NRG Energy Inc., commented on the honor. 

 “We want to celebrate our customers for their efforts in enhancing their energy solutions. Each award shows how organizations are creating a more sustainable path for both their operations and communities,” he said. 


NCC receives top ranking among nation’s online colleges

Northampton Community College has been named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Top Online Colleges 2023. The college was ranked 54th out of 200 highly rated colleges and universities across the United States.  It was the only Lehigh Valley area college to earn a spot on the list and was the highest ranked Pennsylvania community college.   

The list was based on a survey of more than 9,000 online learners and independent research conducted by Statistica Inc.  

“It’s exciting to have our online education programs recognized nationally especially as we continue to grow this modality as an important part of our future,” said David A. Ruth, president of NCC. “What’s especially rewarding is that the rankings are based on feedback from our online students who highly rated their education and online learning experience with NCC.”  

Institutions were rated based on organization and accessibility, support and service, cost of program, perceived organizational reputation, expected success, and practical relevance of contents. The participants were also asked to what extent they would recommend it to others.   

According to NCC, more than half of its 8,400 students enroll in online classes.  

The community college offers 34 fully online degree programs and more than 250 online classes.  


OSHA still vigilant over workplace COVID-19 safety

The height of the concern over the COVID-19 virus may have passed, but that doesn’t mean employers shouldn’t still be concerned about their obligation to maintain a healthy environment at work. 

Mandates imposed by the Biden administration were later overturned by the court, so now COVID-19 prevention practices are considered recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control versus regulations. 

But COVID-19 and other virus protections in the workplace are still covered under the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s Genral Duty Clause, and Tom Barnowski, director of corporate and public safety education at Northampton Community College said that should keep employers alert to the situation. 

“Employers can still be cited if an obvious risk is present and they do nothing to prevent it,” said Barnowski. 

That means that employers still need to be wary of basic virus precautions to make sure there aren’t outbreaks of COVID-19 or other contagious viruses at a worksite that could have been prevented with proper precautions. 

He noted that OSHA fines under the General Duty Clause can be up to $14,500 for a single serious violation to more than $145,000 for repeated willful violations. 

But, Barnowski said, it’s not just about the money. 

“OSHA doesn’t want your money. OSHA wants your attention,” he said. 

Like a speeding ticket, those fines are a warning to those who might violate safety rules that there are consequences. 

While there are still specific OSHA regulations with regard to personal protective equipment, reporting and record keeping, the best thing a company’s human resources department can do is stay on top of the latest COVID-19 information from the CDC. 

“Every employer should stay on top of CDC guidelines because it changes all the time,’ he said. “Companies should offer the latest most relevant information. Be aware of COVID-19 because it is still with us and there are always new pharmaceuticals coming onto market to be aware of.” 

He said that while COVID-19 isn’t in the news as much as it was at its peak, OSHA is still taking the virus seriously and has pledged to increase its COVID inspection goal to 10% as the agency works to finalize a permanent coronavirus healthcare standard. 

According to OSHA, they have issued 1,200 coronavirus-related citations to employers and to date assessed current penalties totaling $7.2 million dollars. 

NCC receives grant to help businesses reduce pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Northampton Community College (NCC) with a $225,113 Pollution Prevention grant funded by the President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center (ETAC) program will deliver on-site technical assistance and educational training in Pollution Prevention (P2) approaches that will aid businesses in reducing their environmental footprint, operating expenses, and liability risk.   

John Barkanic, managing director of the grant, commented. 

“The EPA funding is critical to reducing industrial pollution using preventative measures. The program proposed by NCC is designed to support manufacturers across eastern Pennsylvania, with special emphasis on under-served communities located in Environmental Justice Zones,” he said.  

At its core, NCC’s project entitled, P2 Technical Assistance for Pennsylvania Aerospace, Food, Beverage, and Metal Manufacturers, will identify more economical methods to reduce or eliminate the release of toxic air emissions and reduce waste created from solvent-based coatings and green-house gas emissions. The project will decrease human exposure to pollutants that contribute to the severity of respiratory diseases.   

According to EPA.gov, the United States produces billions of pounds of pollution each year and spends billions of dollars per year controlling this pollution. Preventing pollution versus managing waste after it is produced will protect and advance community health and be more economical, sustainable, and environmentally sound.  

NCC currently has a similar grant, the EPA Source Reduction Assistant grant, the purpose of which aligns with the P2 grant. The College received this award in the heart of the pandemic, September 2020. The project period will soon be ending, and this new P2 grant will allow NCC to continue to do work in this area for the next three years until 2025.   


NCC to host training for OSHA COVID-19 compliance

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has pledged to increase its COVID inspection goal to 10% as the agency works to finalize a permanent coronavirus healthcare standard. According to OSHA, they have “issued 1,200 coronavirus-related citations to employers and to date assessed current penalties totaling $7.2 million dollars.” 

To assist healthcare workers and employers to remain safe and compliant, Northampton Community College is pleased to provide free webinars for healthcare workers and employers as a result of obtaining a Susan Harwood training grant. The program includes personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard assessment and information about what OSHA’s Mini Respiratory Protection Program (“mini RPP”) is and why it is necessary. Training may also satisfy some of the COVID-19 training requirements required by OSHA. 

The free training will be held virtually over Zoom on October 26 at the following times: 

  • 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.: COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Healthcare Employers 
  • 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Healthcare Workers 

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals successfully completing a course will be eligible for continuing education hours. 

To register, visit www.northampton.edu/HealthcareETS. 


Industrial maintenance program offered at NCC

Northampton Community College (NCC) be offering a 10-week, accelerated Industrial Maintenance Training Program this fall, which it said will help people who like problem solving and working with their hands find a well-paying career. 

The classes will be held Mondays through Thursdays, October 3 – December 8 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Fowler Family Southside Center in Bethlehem.  

The program is being funded by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and is being offered free to qualified candidates. 

In the program, NCC said participants will learn the foundational skills of industrial maintenance that will equip them for entry-level positions or apprenticeships in this growing field.  

Foundational skills being taught include blueprint/schematics reading, electrical and mechanical concepts, troubleshooting, and more. Participants will also earn their OSHA-10 certification.