Palm Beach State College has received a $75,000 grant from Lockheed Martin to help students in the Electrical Power Technology program navigate challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Through the Impact Grant, 24 students in the Associate in Science degree program received $1,000 tuition scholarships and an additional $300 to help buy textbooks for this semester. The College also purchased additional lab equipment and take-home lab kits for students to continue learning hands-on skills under social distancing guidelines.
“Our current students are not missing out on any hands-on skills that they would normally get in times before the pandemic,’’ said Professor Oleg Andric, Electrical Power Technology department chair.
“Many of our students work in the hospitality industry to support themselves while attending college, and this industry has been disproportionally affected,’’ Andric continued. “This has caused a lot of stress and uncertainty for our students. This grant not only provides economic support at this critical moment, but also assured the students that they are needed and desired by the aerospace industry.”
The Bethesda, Md. headquartered global security and aerospace company, which has sites in Riviera Beach and Jupiter, is a longstanding PBSC supporter. Through its representation on PBSC’s Business Partnership Council, Lockheed Martin helps ensure that students obtain the workforce skills necessary for employment. In past years, the company has provided funding or support for PBSC outreach programs and initiatives designed to introduce high school students to STEM fields. Several PBSC graduates have landed jobs or internships with the company.
“Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with Palm Beach State College in response to COVID-19 and the necessary shifts in how learning takes place,” said Meagan Campion, Lockheed Martin director of Social Impact. “Our partnership expands opportunities for more students to remain enrolled in school and continue their learning and skills training remotely.”
James Gilleran III is among the scholarship recipients. Having been downsized last year from his job maintaining and repairing boats, he started his own business to make ends meet and was contemplating sitting out school this semester. “The scholarship allowed me the cushion to continue my education and to also work to provide for my family. Without that my family was not in a position to afford to send me to school. I was very blessed to have received that. For normal people like myself and working-class people, $1,000 can make or break.”
Gilleran, who is now enrolled full time instead of part time, said the impact of the pandemic on his job made him realize even more the need for a more stable career.
“It kind of lighted a fire. I realized my job or work could be affected, and it was costing me my livelihood,’’ he said. “I’m hoping that an education will get me into a career that’s in such high demand like alternative energy.”
Mohamed Aly Ag Mohamed Ansar, an international student from Mali who is in his second semester at PBSC, said he also appreciates the support. His father is funding his college education, but he lost income from his second job in Mali because of the pandemic and current unrest. “It was very generous of them. It was really a relief for me. It helped me to achieve my dream.”