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DuPont, WVU-P Team For New Technical Degree

By MICHAEL ERB

Parkersburg News & Sentinel

WASHINGTON - Area students seeking a chemical operator degree will be able to get on-the-job training through a new partnership between Dupont and WVU-P.

Officials with West Virginia University at Parkersburg and DuPont Washington Works gathered Friday at the Washington plant to sign the agreement. This marks the first partnership under the state's "Learn and Earn" Workforce Development Initiative created in 2011 by the West Virginia Legislature.

"You're the first. You are going to set the standard," said James Skidmore, chancellor of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education. "Other colleges will follow in your footsteps, so make sure you lead us in the right direction."

"We accept the pressure," said WVU-P President Marie Foster Gnage. "We accept the challenge."

The year-long program alternates students between three months of in-class study at WVU-P and three months of on-site training at DuPont for two chemical operator certificate programs. Students receive hourly wages while working at DuPont. The state reimburses the company for half of those wages.

Officials described the program as a win-win for the company and the college.

"I have no doubt this will be a successful program," said Karl Boelter, plant manager for DuPont Washington Works. "I think it's a phenominal opportunity to connect our educational system with the needs of industry."

The program begins Feb. 27 and classes are already full. Students looking to enroll in the next session, which begins in May, can do so at www.wvup.edu/LearnAndEarn or by calling 304-424-8000.