New Programs in School of Engineering Technologies

August 13, 2012

The University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College is now offering two new 2-year associate degree majors in Industrial Automation and Maintenance and in Welding Technology through the School of Engineering Technologies.

The new majors were created to meet a demand from businesses in the community for employees with the skills that these programs will offer. The new programs include courses taught in previous Rio Grande areas of study, while also including new classes and subjects to help graduates in the local job market.

The Industrial Automation and Maintenance program will offer students the opportunity to study areas such as programmable logic controllers; industrial electronics; robotics; hydraulics; blueprint and schematic design; preventative and productive maintenance; and occupational health and safety.

The program offers hands-on learning opportunities in all of these classes, and in other classes as well. Courses are taught just four days a week (Mondays through Thursdays) in order to help meet the busy schedules of the students.

Students can earn an associate’s degree in Industrial Automation and Maintenance in just two years from Rio Grande. Graduates of the program will be able to work in a wide range of industrial facilities in the region and around the country. Rio Grande’s previous programs that featured industrial technology enabled graduates to work for area companies and organizations such as Diamond Electric in West Virginia, Toyota Motor Manufacturing in West Virginia, Electrocraft in Gallipolis, GKN of Gallipolis, American Electric power plants and the Kyger Creek power plant. The new programs will open up additional employment opportunities for students, as they will provide training in the fields of study that companies in the region have told Rio Grande they need for their employees. Students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in order to further their careers can also earn a bachelor’s of science degree in Industrial Technology from Rio Grande.

The new welding program at Rio Grande replaces the previous welding courses, which could only lead to certificates. By creating the associate’s degree in Welding Technology program, Rio Grande was able to add more high-tech courses in order to teach the students more skills.

The previous program was focused more on teaching welding for basic maintenance work. The new program will expand into teaching welders about working with weld testing and inspection, robotics, machine shop operations, computer numerical controls, pipe welding and a wide range of other fields.

“If you look at the national reports, there is a severe shortage of skilled workers across the board,” said faculty member Mike Dyer. Both and these new programs are in response to this shortage. Jobs are also posted throughout the region in these fields, as businesses are looking for employees who are able to handle a wide range of job responsibilities.

“We are providing more of a versatile, cross-trained graduate,” Dyer said. Both programs still have room for students for the fall semester. Rio Grande features small class sizes and individual instruction from faculty members in the majors all across campus. A unique institution that is part private university and part community college, Rio Grande is also able to provide high-quality academic programs at low tuition rates. Financial aid programs are also available to those who qualify.

Area residents interested in learning more about the new programs in Industrial Automation and Maintenance and in Welding Technology should call faculty member Keith Saunders at 1-800-282-7201 or send him an e-mail at For additional information on programs in Rio Grande’s School of Technology, as well as information on the wide range of academic programs offered on the university’s scenic campus, log onto