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Garden City Community College Secures Two Grants for Welding and Buster Red Meats

Garden City Community College has secured two new grants from the Kansas Department of Commerce totaling $335,000 to help purchase four virtual welding simulators and a refrigerated truck for the Buster Red Meats program.  

“It is critical and strategic for GCCC to find ways to be entrepreneurial, innovative and future focused,” College President, Dr. Ryan Ruda said. “These grants provide the college with opportunities to expand program offerings and technology to allow the college to innovate.” 

According to statistics provided by Workforce One, unemployment numbers in advanced manufacturing have spiked since March with more than 300 jobless claims being reported. To help mitigate this disturbing trend, GCCC secured a $235,000 Higher Education Advanced Manufacturing Grant to purchase four RealWeld Training simulators. This new piece of technology will allow college and high school students across the area to practice Stick, MIG and Flux-Cored arc welding, while receiving audio coaching and weld performance tracking.  

“These trainers will have an immense impact on our ability to teach industry standards and procedures at schools that would normally not have that opportunity,” Welding Instructor, Kurt Wenzel said. “It will also allow the outreach instructors to improve their programs by using modern technology.” 

The trainer at the main campus will be utilized by full-time welding students to further their education experience. That unit will also be used by training-outreach instructors to help teach at their locations, expanding the dual-credit and workforce development program.  

“This is a tremendous addition to our welding program,” Dr. Ruda emphasized. “The plan is to advance training in the field.” 

Meantime, the $100,000 Local Food Systems Grant will help subsidize the purchase of a state-of-the art, refrigerated truck allowing for increased capacity and safe delivery of meat products to local retailers. It also includes an automated patty machine to increase capacity of processed products to market, a vacuum packager to efficiently and safely package products, and an upright freezer for campus/community food pantry to increase access.  

“This grant will help the program be more productive and efficient,” said Dr. Clint Alexander, Director of Buster Red Meats. “During the pandemic, finding processing appointments for livestock to be harvested locally has become challenging. We hope to remedy this by expansion of freezer storage as well as a harvest facility.” 

The truck will replace an older, less efficient model while the vacuum skin packager is a new piece of technology that’s smaller and will fit within the limited space in the processing area of the GCCC Meat Lab.  

“The equipment will allow the meat products to be packaged quicker in terms of less waste of packaging materials as well as time,” Dr. Alexander added. “The patty machine will be used to create more time efficiency in terms of labor force.”  

The freezer will be placed with the Campus Closet program and one percent of the total production pounds from Buster Red Meats will be donated to that cause to help feed students.  

“Our hope is that in the future, the program would expand the cooler and freezer to assist in storage and opportunities for the business to expand their offerings as well as a harvest facility,” Dr. Alexander explained. 

Incredibly, since March, GCCC has secured $2.9 million in grant money.  

“GCCC has been very proactive and focused on securing grant funding that provides pathways to expanding curriculum and modalities of instruction,” Dr. Ruda stated. “The money has been secured for student support services, technology, personnel and equipment.”