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Alcoa donates $30,000 to expand WCC engineering program

Post Date:08/14/2018 3:24 pm

WCC engineering student works on a small robotWCC engineering students hang weights on a bridge they created from popsicle sticks to test strength

Bellingham, Wash. – Alcoa Foundation awarded Whatcom Community College (WCC) a grant of $30,000 for the second year to support the expansion of the College’s pre-engineering program.

With $25,000 awarded last year, the College purchased start-up equipment and established dedicated program space. Now, WCC’s engineering transfer program is more popular than ever! Students are starting to waitlist for winter 2018 program courses.

Whatcom will use this year’s award to increase student capabilities by providing a full classroom set of laptops, a benchtop CNC milling machine, and a classroom set of digital multimeters. Together, these resources will increase the quality and scope of projects students can do and will increase their exposure to fabrication and manufacturing processes. These resources will provide students with the skills that industry expects and experience they need to prepare for junior-level transfer. By providing on-campus access to these expanded opportunities for all students, Alcoa and WCC will ensure all who desire to become future engineers will be prepared to work in the local community, a high priority for the College.

“Alcoa's generous support has been critical to WCC's ability to meet increasing demand for engineering courses and to improve the overall quality of our program,” says WCC Engineering Faculty and Engineering Program Coordinator Eric Davishahl. “These funds have allowed us to provide multiple hands-on design project opportunities throughout the curriculum.  It's through these projects that students start developing an understanding of engineering practice that they will rely on throughout their academic and professional careers.”

In addition, the equipment purchase will support an outreach project with Cordata Elementary. The ENGR 114 (Engineering Graphics) students, led by faculty member Davishahl, will collaborate with Cordata third graders to design projects for 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC machining. This outreach project, developed through a partnership with the WWU Community Engagement Fellows program, will not only benefit elementary students with authentic design experiences but will also help teachers to modernize and align their curriculum with new state standards.

“Alcoa has a very strong relationship with Whatcom Community College on a number of levels,” says Alcoa Plant Manager Ron Jorgensen. “We work closely on workforce development through Alcoa Foundation grants and local sponsorships as well as employee participation in an advisory capacity from our Alcoa plant Intalco Works located in Ferndale.”

Alcoa foundation logo 

About Alcoa Foundation:

Alcoa Foundation’s predecessor, currently known as Legacy Alcoa Foundation (and formerly known as Alcoa Foundation,) was founded in 1952 as one of the few endowed corporate foundations in the United States.  As a result of the separation of Alcoa Inc. into Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in November 2016, two new foundations were formed, into which the assets of Legacy Alcoa Foundation were transferred. One of the newly formed foundations, known now as Alcoa Foundation, is the foundation associated with Alcoa Corporation. Today, Alcoa Foundation invests where Alcoa Corporation has a presence such as in Ferndale, WA with Intalco Works, providing grants that contribute to environmental excellence around the world, particularly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and climate change research.  Learn more at and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter. 

About Whatcom:

Whatcom Community College is recognized as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges four consecutive times. With 11,000 students, the college offers a four- year bachelor of applied science, transfer and over 20 professional and technical degrees and certificates, as well as online, basic education and skills training, plus continuing education for the community and businesses. Its academic focus areas of excellence include cybersecurity, allied health programs, business, and pre-engineering. For more information, visit


Whatcom Community College PIO, 360.383.3310, 

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