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Tom HendricksThis fall, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s (SVHEC)
IT Academy (ITA) will expand its advanced training courses with its first cybersecurity course. The course will be taught by new ITA instructor Thomas Hendricks, computer scientist and retired US Department of Defense manager.

Hendricks worked as a computer scientist and manager with the U.S. Department of Defense for over 32 years until his retirement in 2013.  In this capacity, he worked with many cutting-edge technologies including large scale, high speed networking, information assurance, cyber security defense, vulnerability assessments, cyber security education, and related areas of technology.

Hendricks also has an extensive record of teaching in the computer science and cyber security disciplines for several different universities, including Johns Hopkins University, James Madison University, and Norwich University. From 2001 to 2006, Mr. Hendricks’ served as the NSA Visiting Professor to the US Naval Academy.

welding cohort 6  welding cohort7

Trainees in Welding@SVHEC Cohorts 6 and 7 have successfully completed the training program, and taken their place as Southern Virginia’s newest certified welders. Tara Bailey, Clarence Crews, Eric Ford, James Holt, Stacy Morris, Justin Overby, William Ridgeway, Chris Terry, Jordan Wagstaff, and Ernest Womack successfully completed the 13-month training program, and obtained several certifications including the nationally recognized NCCER welding certification.
“Welding@SVHEC is a hands-on training program designed to give our trainees the skills and knowledge needed to begin a successful career in the in-demand field of welding,” said Scarlett Brandon, Program/Marketing Coordinator for the SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence.

After completing the program, program completers receive job placement assistance. Currently, 70% of cohort 6 and 7 have been successfully placed in welding positions. “Our trainees have worked diligently during the course of their training program, and we look forward to seeing their continued success as they start their new careers as certified welders,”Brandon stated.

Individuals in Welding@SVHEC receive instruction in MIG, TIG, Stick, and Pipe welding, and earn a portfolio of stackable, industry-recognized credentials. Successful Welding@SVHEC program completers will be invited to participate in the SVHEC’s Workforce Completion Ceremony on August 10th.

To learn more about the Welding@SVHEC program, contact Scarlett Brandon at 434-572-5473 or email

troycomerTroy Comer, SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence (SoVA CME) Welding Program Leader, has earned the internationally recognized Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) credential through the American Welding Society (AWS). Comer previously earned the AWS Certified Welding Educator credential in 2016.

“Obtaining the CWI credential is a real credit to Troy. The certification exam is quite challenging, and more fail than pass,” said David Kenealy, SoVA CME Director of Programming. “The CWI is a predominant credential that will expand our ability to do meaningful work in welding and workforce training as we move forward,” Kenealy continued.

As an AWS certified welding inspector, Comer can now test and certify welders and construction-related welding projects. According to the AWS website “CWIs are responsible to the public for the quality of the things they help produce. Bridges, elevators, buildings, vehicles, it’s the CWI’s job to ensure that these things are assembled correctly and okay for public use.”

To obtain the CWI credential, Comer underwent a rigorous certification process including a vision test, attending an intensive weeklong seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, and completing a difficult three-part, six-hour assessment. As a testament to Comer’s welding experience and abilities, he passed all parts of the assessment on the first try.

Mechatronics Cohort2 800pxThe SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence recently welcomed its second group of eight students into the industrial maintenance/mechatronics program.

The hands on training at Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) prepares students for a career in many industries including mechanical, electrical, computer software/control engineering (PLCs) to design and manufacture products. Students will come away from the training ready to earn valuable industry credentials such as Siemens Level 1 Certification. Students can then go on to earn Siemens level 2 certification, and SVHEC is working with Siemens to create the only North American location for Siemens level 3 training and certification.

The training takes place over 26 weeks, and students who complete the training are certified as “smart operators” which will allow them to work in any industry with any equipment. In fact, recent graduates have found careers as machine operators, technicians and apprentice electricians.

Dr. Betty Adams, executive director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, said, “Thanks to the TRRC’s investment in SoVA CME, the SVHEC is positioned to offer Southside workers the training necessary to succeed in automated smart factory environments. The 2016 State of the Commonwealth Report predicts that almost 74 percent of Virginia’s production occupations – which includes Southern Virginia’s largest labor market sector, manufacturing – may be at risk to automation. The most vulnerable jobs involve repetitive, routine tasks that require little reasoning, judgment or creative abilities. These jobs are being replaced by equipment designed to function as complex systems, now often referred to as mechatronic systems.