Botetourt Technical Education Center Earns American Welding Society Accreditation


Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Botetourt Technical Education Center is now accredited by the American Welding Society (AWS). It is the first time that a high school welding program in Virginia has earned the nationally recognized AWS accreditation, which is currently held by only five postsecondary education institutions in Virginia and only 18 other high schools in the United States. 
Recognizing the value of an AWS accredited program to regional jobs and business growth, the Botetourt Education Foundation drove public-private funding and support for the welding program, including winning a $200,000 award in 2015 from the Governor’s Competition for Talent Solutions. The annual competition launched by Governor McAuliffe spurs business engagement and fiscal investment for business-led workforce solutions.    
“With more than 100 companies in the Roanoke Valley using welding in their business processes, it’s imperative that the region have a ready and reliable source of workers with the high-tech skills required,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “I am delighted that our administration was able to play a part in making this nationally recognized advanced welding lab available to the high school students at the Botetourt Technical Education Center as part of our work to build a new Virginia economy.”
In addition to providing county high school students career and technical education and training for globally recognized certifications, the welding program will also serve students and workforce training participants of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, as well as incumbent workers of regional manufacturing companies seeking to update and certify their welding skills.  
“I congratulate Botetourt Technical Education Center and its public and private partners for ensuring that high school students will graduate with credentials for in-demand jobs that pay great wages with opportunities for growth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “The welding skills Botetourt’s students are developing apply to 19 different occupations in manufacturing and trades, and even to commercial diving.” 
“The Botetourt Education Foundation is very proud to be able to add an important piece to workforce development in Virginia, which would not have been possible without major contributions from many sources,” said John R. (Bob) Patterson, President of the Botetourt Education Foundation. 
“We need our students gaining the kind of in-demand skills that will make them competitive in the 21st century workforce, and this accreditation is a step in the right direction,” Secretary of Education Dietra Trent said. “This accomplishment is proof of what can happen when a community comes together to ensure that the next generation has access to the resources they need to be successful.”
“This project is an example of the great collaboration happening today in our region,” said Delegate Terry Austin. “The Botetourt Education Foundation, private industry, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Botetourt County Public School Division and the Governor’s administration all contributed to this successful program. As a result, public school resources will extend into the community and provide a well-trained workforce for industry.”
High school students enrolled in the welding program at Botetourt Technical Education Center last year earned 44 AWS and other manufacturing related certifications, including AWS credentials in Flux Cored Arc Welding and Gas Metal Arc Welding (also known as MIG welding). 
Contributors to the welding center include: Dynax America Corporation, Tread Corporation, Gala Industries, Roanoke Cement Company, Bank of Botetourt, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, the Altec Foundation and the Alleghany Foundation.

Roanoke Region Manufacturers Can Benefit from Industry Collaboration with Virginia Tech

virginia tech food science beer

Food and beverage producers take note, the Roanoke Region has every resource you need to produce a world-class product. Plentiful, quality water, natural gas, a significant available sewer capacity and all other utilities are in place. And the Roanoke Region’s location in the Mid-Atlantic has proven itself an advantage for manufacturers of all varieties for decades. But many are simply unaware of the advantages the research assets at Virginia Tech can provide food and beverage manufacturers of all sizes.

The Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech is a department that is built on industry collaboration. The department hosts the Food Innovations Program which can provide a variety of technical assistance services including testing food products for safety and quality, provide guidance on reformulation and product design, coordinate training, provide regulatory assistance, and even calculate nutritional labels for new food products. The department has analyzed over 2,500 products and assisted more than 1,000 businesses large and small with challenges unique to their own food-based business.

“I call the pilot plant my engagement space,” said Joe Marcy, head of the Department of Food Science and Technology. “This great room brings all our missions together — research, outreach, and academics — in a way that is beneficial to everyone.”

Department faculty, many of whom have private industry experience, have assisted many large industrial clients evaluate new processes and/or new equipment and its effect on the quality and safety of the food product being produced. 

virginia tech food science beer

The department expanded into the new Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 in 2014 which houses several new laboratory spaces including a new food processing pilot plant facility where manufacturers can utilize their own equipment to test new processes and/or products. The pilot plant facility is complete with many modern features including:

  • pasteurization equipment
  • homogenization equipment
  • spray drying equipment
  • mixers/batching equipment      
  • vacuum packaging, precision oven
  • industrial grade utilities

Most recently, the department has added malting equipment, a new brewhouse and distillery equipment for the burgeoning brewery and distillery industry in Virginia and which augments the departments existing research winery and enology laboratory. 

The department also hosts a sensory evaluation laboratory where data can be collected on individual responses to flavor, ingredients, and even packaging and marketing of products. Each panelist booth is equipped with sensory data collection equipment including automated facial expression analysis software to record and evaluate the user experience. 

There is a wide variety of resources available at Virginia Tech for private industry and the Food Science and Technology Department has experience collaborating with colleagues in the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute which specializes in research into polymers and has researched applications in food and other consumer product packaging. The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials has recently started a new undergraduate degree in packaging systems and design which is contributing along with the Food Science department freshly trained food and packaging graduates each year. 

Virginia Tech houses the resources that can assist with product conceptualization and process implementation and is another resource that makes the Roanoke Region a better place for food and beverage companies to do business.

2 Roanoke Region Schools Win Top Education Awards

Three cheers for Crystal Spring and Snow Creek elementary schools.

The two Roanoke Region schools are among 12 in the state to earn national Blue Ribbon Awards from the U.S. Department of Education, signifying academic rigor and dramatic gains in student achievement. 

crystal spring top roanoke schoolCrystal Spring Elementary in Roanoke and Snow Creek Elementary in Penhook were each honored as Exemplary High Performing Schools. This designation is for schools that are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates are also at the highest levels.

The recognition of 335 schools was announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. They will be recognized at a ceremony in November in Washington, D.C.


From Crystal Spring’s application: “Crystal Spring Elementary is an urban school within a diverse socio-economic community. Ninety-two years old, it includes multi-generational community involvement and serves students from preschool through grade five. CSE is a neighborhood school located in South Roanoke and is rich with traditions. Half of our 350 students walk or ride their bikes to school. Our school culture is greatly enhanced by the trusting relationships we develop with parents and our collaborative work with neighborhood businesses. CSE supports Roanoke City Schools’ philosophy of “Strong Students, Strong Schools, Strong City. Our students are active, engaged, and motivated learners who take advantage of academic and extracurricular opportunities.”


snow creek top roanoke schoolFrom Snow Creek’s application: “Family and cultural roots are strong and deep; many of the students have parents, and even grandparents, who attended the school. This multi-generational connection is one of the key elements to Snow Creek’s success. Many parents and grandparents are closely involved in school activities and serve as a support network. Another key element to Snow Creek’s success is the commitment to fostering collaboration between learners. Students work with their teammates in positive relationships to examine their own thinking and provide evidence in support of their conclusions. Students become stakeholders in their own educations. Faculty and staff are driven by that same collaborate notion.”

  • Crystal Spring Elementary celebrated the honor with a school assembly this week. You can read more about it from The Roanoke Times.
  • Learn more about all the educational opportunities in the Roanoke Region, which is home to top-notch public and private K-12 schools and 25 colleges and universities.