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First noncredit certification will be offered through SVHEC in partnership with Siemens

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) will be entering into a partnership with Siemens, a global technology company, to establish the only noncredit Level 3 Mechatronics training program in the world. The field of mechatronics combines mechanical, electrical, computer, and software and control engineering to design and manufacture products.

Until now, Siemens Level 3 certification has only been available at two universities in the United States and three worldwide: Middle Tennessee State University and California University of Pennsylvania, as well as Yeungnam University College in South Korea. The new SVHEC-Siemens partnership will now make this training and certification available as a noncredit option offered in a compressed timeframe.

“Noncredit workforce credentials are an essential part of building the new Virginia economy and preparing our students to be competitive members of the 21st century workforce,” Governor McAuliffe said. “We want our students to earn in-demand certifications and use those skills to help Virginia attract businesses, resources, and new investment. This innovative Level 3 Certification exemplifies SVHEC’s dedication to its students, the community, and the region, and I commend the partnership with Siemens to make this possible.”

“This unique partnership between SVHEC and Siemens will allow students to pursue a specialized credential in an exciting field,” Secretary of Education Dietra Trent stated. “As a native of Halifax, Virginia, I have seen firsthand how difficult it can be for students in Southside and Southwest Virginia to gain access to the global marketplace. That is why we are committed to ensuring that all of our students have access to world-class educational opportunities, and SVHEC is helping us to achieve that lofty goal.”

“Governor McAuliffe is a dedicated champion of fast-paced, intensive noncredit workforce training for globally recognized industry certifications that lead to skilled jobs with good wages and a great future, as demonstrated in Executive Order 23,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “SVHEC’s partnership with Siemens represents the pinnacle of what we hope to achieve in workforce certification training across the state. I am especially proud that one of only four such training programs in the world will be based in rural Virginia.”

Internationally recognized "gold-standard" certification now available to regional students and employers

Gordon, Soyars Earn Siemens CertificationSoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence (SoVA CME) staff Will Soyars (pictured right) and Ricky Gordon recently traveled to Berlin, Germany to complete Siemens Level 2 Mechatronics Instructor Training. Soyars is the SoVA CME Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics Program Leader and Gordon is the SoVA CME Programs Technician. They both received their Siemens Level 1 certification in 2015.

With two certified trainers on staff, SoVA CME in South Boston, VA can now offer Siemens Level 1 and Level 2 training. Siemens Mechatronics certification is recognized in the United States and around the world as the gold-standard in mechatronics certification. “The key point for industry to understand is that Siemens Mechatronics training is not about Siemens equipment or products. The training teaches the concepts and skills you should know as an entry-level industrial mechanic. Today, Siemens is the only one with a certification for that,” Soyars stated.

troycomerTroy Comer, SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence (SoVA CME) Welding Program Leader, has obtained welding educator certification through the American Welding Society (AWS). In July, Comer traveled to Louisville, KY to attend a weeklong seminar and complete a rigorous two-part assessment. Obtaining AWS certification means Comer will be nationally recognized as possessing the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to train other welders.

Comer has 17 years of welding experience, including owning and operating his own welding and fabrication business, Slap Nasty Customworks. He has served as a Welding@SVHEC instructor since 2014, and SoVA CME Welding Program Leader since January 2016. Starting August 2016, Comer will also serve as an adjunct welding instructor for Southside Virginia Community College welding classes being offered at the SVHEC.  

Registration is still open for Welding@SVHEC classes. For more information contact Troy Comer at 434-572-5492 or email

Welding Completers December 2015It was a day of celebration as the first 15 students to enroll in the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s (SVHEC) Welding program walked across the Prizery’s stage to receive their certificates of completion. The completion ceremony marked the end of a journey started 16 months ago for these newly minted welders.

“Livelihoods and America are depending on you and your skills. Go out from here and make your impact on the world,” said keynote speaker Leslie “Tyke” Tenney. Tenney is the executive director of Virginia Technical Institute, which serves as the official sponsor of the SVHEC’s welding program.

Program completer Garrie Dye gave reflections on his time in the program. “I not only gained welding experience but also life experience like determination and perseverance. I came to the class looking for a new job, but in graduating
I have the opportunity for a new career not just a job,” he stated.

Students in the first cohort to complete the Welding@SVHEC program earned a combined total of 88 stackable, industry-recognized credentials. Students earned credentials for the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) CORE & Welding Levels 1-3, the American Welding Society (AWS) SENSE program, and the National Career Readiness Certificate. The students’ AWS credentials acknowledge they have met basic requirements to sit for AWS certification.

“Having the NCCER nationally recognized credential means they can go to any state, show their blue card, and have their skills recognized,” Tenney said.