PCC wins national designation as a center of excellence for maritime training and education

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Welding student

Busy student at Rock Creek’s new weld shop.

Portland Community College has earned recognition from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) as one of the 32 designated Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE). This prestigious designation underscores PCC’s commitment to preparing students for fulfilling careers within the United States maritime industry.

As part of the PAC Maritime alliance, which includes seven community and technical colleges along with one maritime training entity spanning Washington and Oregon, PCC stands among six designees in the region. According to MARAD, this acknowledgment highlights the vital role these institutions play in fostering highly skilled mariners essential for bolstering both the nation’s economy and security.

“The designation solidifies the excellence of PCC’s Maritime Welding Program,” said Patty Hawkins, program Dean. “The program’s goal is to bring more skilled welders directly into the workforce, and to help students find careers in this incredible industry.”

Why welding? In the manufacturing industry, there is a lack of qualified workers from which companies like Union Pacific or Vigor Industrial can recruit from. With an aging workforce, there is an overwhelming shortage of welders, and the employment prospects in the Portland area are strong as a result. The Oregon Employment Department forecasts more than 250 welding job openings per year through 2027.

Chain cutting unveiling PCC's new Mobile Welding Outreach & Skills Training Center.

Chain cut unveiling PCC’s new Mobile Welding Outreach & Skills Training Center.

PCC is at the region’s heart of manufacturing training. At Swan Island shipyards, the college partnered with Vigor Industrial in 2008 on the Maritime Welding Training Center – a 4,000-square-foot facility. Vigor is the region’s leading provider of shipbuilding and repair and with its assistance, PCC offers students hands-on education under the expert guidance of diverse and student-centered faculty.

“It was the first college industrial partnership within the United States to create a maritime welding/ship fitting collaboration within a shipyard,” said Todd Barnett, welding faculty. “Frank Foti, the owner and CEO of Vigor industrial, saw the need for a pathway for new employees to be created.”

In addition, the college recently introduced its new Mobile Welding Outreach & Skills Training Center last fall, which was made possible due to an initial investment of $375,000 by Union Pacific. PCC is just one of 20 institutions across the country to have similar mobile welding centers.

And, the PCC Welding Program offers flexible scheduling with an open-entry/open-exit, self-paced format that fits the needs of the students. This allows them to register for full or part-time instruction by using the college’s recently renovated weld shop. PCC offers welding classes at the Rock Creek Campus in Washington County, OMIC Training Center in Scappoose and at Swan Island.

In addition to the flexible instructional design, PCC offers several Career Pathway Certificates through an associate degree in Welding Technology.

“The newest, and most exciting of these are the Career Pathway Certificates with Maritime options,” said instructor Matt Scott. “Within these certificate packages PCC offers classes in welding and shipfitting techniques that allow the students to hit the ship decks well prepared for a career in the marine industry.”

The MARAD designation stems from Section 51706 of title 46 United States Code, authorizing the Secretary of Transportation to recognize entities demonstrating excellence in maritime workforce training and education.

“Our country depends on a highly-skilled mariner workforce to strengthen both our economy and our national security,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The 32 Centers of Excellence we’re designating today will promote training opportunities outside of traditional four-year degree programs and will bring more Americans into these great maritime careers.”

For the full list of designees, and searchable map, can be found on the Centers of Excellence webpage.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Director of Public Relations at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic... more »

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x by Lance Hearn 1 month ago

I’m a veteran and my son is interested in under water welding and then would like to join the military in that field. My question is being a child of a veteran and Oregon resident what aids are available to him and how much does it cost