SVHEF Awarded USDA GrantThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation (SVHEF) a Community Facilities grant of $25,000 to upgrade equipment in the IT Academy. The IT Academy (ITA) is a workforce training program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) offering short-term, hands-on training leading to CompTIA credentials in A+ and Server+.

“Upgrading the infrastructure in the SVHEC’s IT Academy is necessary to ensure that the training being provided in that space is both cutting-edge and relevant to the needs of potential employers in the region. We’re grateful for the continued support of the USDA Office for Rural Development and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation,” said Dr. Betty Adams, SVHEC Executive Director.

USDA grant funds will be used to upgrade the IT Academy’s datacenter to include fiber optic cabling, and the training program’s server technologies. The planned upgrades are in response to employer requests for trainees to have fiber optic cabling training as data centers have increasingly moved away from copper connections to end-to-end fiber connections. Employers also requested trainees have expanded training in new server technologies to include blade servers housed in a blade enclosure providing shared power, cooling, networking, and management infrastructure.

“The IT Academy is yet another example of the commitment of our Foundation to encourage economic development in the Southern Virginia region.  Completers of the IT Academy are securing stable, well-paying jobs right here at home.  We are very proud of this accomplishment.  We are also grateful to the USDA Office for Rural Development for their ongoing support of our Foundation and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center,” said Tommy Nelson, SVHEF Executive Director

For more information about the SVHEC’s IT Academy visit, call 434-572-5660, or email


Make It...In SoVA Luncheon 2017

On September 29th, regional leaders from industry, workforce development, and education attended Make It…in SoVA where the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) launched its newest workforce training partnership with Siemens Technik Akadmie in Berlin, Germany.

“We’re excited to officially launch our partnership with Siemens Technik Akademie. This partnership, and the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program, will provide a tremendous asset and resource for industries in Southern Virginia,” said Dr. Betty Adams, SVHEC Executive Director.

The Make It…in SoVa launch event highlighted the mechatronics training program, and featured special guest speakers from Berlin, Germany and Carson City, Nevada. Mechatronics combines mechanical, electrical, computer, and software and control engineering to design and manufacture products. Individuals trained in mechatronics are prepared for many successful careers including machine operator, industrial maintenance technician, and electrician.

Lauren von Steuben, Product Manager for Digital Products Division at Siemens AG in Berlin, Germany, and oversees the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program (SMSCP) in 16 countries. She provided an overview of the SMSCP program which provides an internationally recognized certification for individuals trained in mechatronics.

“With the SMSCP, students are able to earn a global certification without leaving Virginia. This is the same certification as students in Canada, Germany, and India,” von Steuben said. “Everything is hands on with 30% theory and 70% practice. The core of the program is hands-on practice and troubleshooting working with real mechatronic systems,” she continued. She described individuals who obtain the Siemens mechatronic certification as being ready to “hit the ground running,” when hired by industry.

According to von Steuben, the SMSCP is vendor neutral and not dependent on Siemens, or any particular, equipment, “SMSCP is a mechatronic skills certification, not a Siemens product certification,” she said.

ITA cohort5 webThe SVHEC's IT Academy (ITA) is now recruiting for classes beginning January 8, 2018. The enrollment period opens on October 12th and ends on December 5th.

The IT Academy offers short-term, hands-on training leading to CompTIA credentials in A+ and Server+. Classroom instruction and online study tools are paired with hands-on activities in a fully equipped repair center and data center that simulates the real world working environment. ITA participants complete the entire core curriculum within four months, and have the training and skills necessary to start, or advance, their career as an IT technician.  

“I chose the IT Academy because the content was right, the schedule was right, and the timing was right to take a huge step towards earning highly recognized industry certifications," said Tina Morgan, ITA cohort 4 completer.

A number of program completers have gone on to work at the datacenters in Clarksville and Boydton, as well as regional school systems and healthcare systems. Individuals who were already employed in an IT career were able to obtain the credentials they needed to advance their careers.

To join Southern Virginia's growing IT workforce, attend an upcoming information session:

  • Thursday, October 12th at 5:30pm
  • Friday, October 13th at 11:00am
  • Thursday, October 19th at 5:30pm
  • Thursday, October 26th at 5:30pm

Information sessions will cover valuable information including the ITA application process, skills learned during training, and available financial assistance. Information sessions are open to the public, but registration is requested. To register for an information session or to learn more about the IT Academy contact Kelly Shotwell, IT Academy program coordinator and trainer, at, 434-572-5660, and toll free 1-800-283-0098 ext 5660.

 Welding Basics for the At Home Welder Course Back By Popular Demand

Welding Basics for the At Home WelderFlyer Back by popular demand, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s (SVHEC) “Welding Basics for the At Home Welder” will be offered this October. This six-week course provides instruction on safety and basic welding processes including MIG, stick, and flux core welding for the do-it-yourselfer.

“We wanted to offer a non-credential, hands-on training class to individuals in the community who wanted to learn a little bit more about welding for their personal use,” said Scarlett Brandon, program/marketing coordinator for the SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence. “We offered the first 
six-week training class this spring, and it was a great fit for everyone,” she continued.

Developed with the recreational welder in mind, no previous welding experience is needed to enroll in the “At Home Welder” course. Classes will meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:00am-1:00pm and will be taught by certified Welding@SVHEC instructors. Each participant will have an opportunity to complete a project in class or to bring in a personal project from home.

One of the first individuals to enroll in the first “At Home Welder” course was Denise Hudson, owner of Hudson Farms. “This is a great adult learning program that has provided me with a working foundation on how to safely and productively weld. I loved the hands-on instruction which was perfect for adult learners like me,” she said.

“Welding Basics for the At Home Welder” begins Tuesday, October 24th. Registration is open, and seats are limited.

For more information, or to sign-up for “Welding Basics for the At-Home Welder,” contact Scarlett Brandon at 434-572-5473 or

Members of the SVHEC community with donations for Blessing Buckets for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Danville and Southside Virginia Community College students and staff at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) joined with SVHEC partners and staff to collect donations to fill “Blessing Buckets” for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

Front row (l-r) Lorrie Conner, Lelia Hughes, Heather Lankford, Penelope Hamlett, Taylor Anderson (all SVCC Practical Nursing Students)
 Second row (l-r): Angela Crews (Community Colleges staff), Kimberly Coleman, Crystal Parker, Travonna Davis, Haley Tillett, Courtney Yeatts, and Stacy Hines (SVCC Nursing Instructor). Third row (l-r): Kathy Whitt (Community Colleges staff) , Ida Jackson (Community Colleges staff), Barbara Perkins (Community Colleges Counselor), Keisha Davis, Sandra Alger, Heather Davis, Jonette Talbott (SVCC Nursing Instructor), Deb Halasz (Southern VA Higher Education Foundation staff), and Karen Fisher (SVCC Instructor)

 Sponsored by God’s Pit Crew, “Blessing Buckets” are filled with items in four categories: encouragement, food, personal, and miscellaneous. Items of encouragement include personal notes to let recipients know they’re being thought of, and miscellaneous items include flashlights, toilet paper, and peroxide.

In one week, members of the SVHEC community completely filled 14 Blessing Buckets with items from all four blessing bucket categories. There were also six buckets of overflow items that will be given to God’s Pit Crew to fill other “Blessing Buckets.”

“We all have been deeply touched by the plight of the hurricane victims who lost everything.  I am thankful and proud to work with so many people at SVCC, DCC and the SVHEC whose generosity made the Blessing Bucket project a huge success,” said Karen Fisher, SVCC Biology Instructor and one of the donation drive’s organizers.


For the first time, the Capital One Coders Experience for Middle School Girls will be held at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center on Saturday, October 21st. The event is free, and open to any girl in 6th-8th grades. No prior coding experience is required; meals will be provided.

Coders Experience is an exciting, one-day event where young women learn how to create their own mobile app. During the day, participants will work individually and in teams to learn software development and to hone problem solving skills. Teams will compete for prizes, including a trip to the Women in Technology Experience in Richmond, Virginia.

Middle school girls in Southern Virginia are encouraged to attend this exciting event. For more information and to register please visit


coders experience flyer