Success Stories

ABB's submersible transformer inspection robot wins major industry award

ABBMonday, July 1, 2019

ABB’s free-swimming robot that redefines transformer inspection services recently received the 2019 ‘Power Product of the Year’ award.

On May 30, ABB was presented an Electrical Review Excellence award for its ABB Abilityinspection for transformers — TXplore — in the ‘Power Product of the Year’ category. Electrical Review is the leading electrical industry publication in the UK.

The judging panel, under the leadership of the highly-respected industry figure — Prof. Ian F. Bitterlin, consulting engineer and visiting professor at University of Leeds, was impressed by the capability of TXplore to make transformer inspection a much safer activity while also boosting asset availability for power grid operators.

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SVHEC gets $500,000 for IT Academy

June 10, 2019

The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center was awarded a $500,000 tobacco grant on Thursday to expand its IT Academy, with the expectation of nearly tripling the pool of graduates who come out of the program ready to fill information technology positions in the area.

The grant by the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission will pay for new instructors, four new courses, and a physical expansion to double the size of the IT Academy training area.

“We hope to begin hiring instructors in the fall and start class in the spring,” said Brenda Terry, chief financial and operations officer of the SVHEC.

The expansion aims to meet the increased demand for skilled workers by local businesses, particularly Microsoft, which operates a massive cloud computing complex in Mecklenburg County. Microsoft has committed about $200,000 to the project, and has made other, prior contributions — donating old equipment, providing scholarships for students, and even setting up a program whereby its data center employees can volunteer at the IT Academy.

“We appreciate the continued support of the Tobacco Commission and Microsoft,” said Kelly Shotwell, who serves as the program coordinator and as a trainer at the IT Academy.

The bulk of the Tobacco Commission funding will go towards hiring and paying for three full-time staff positions, easing the burden from Shotwell, who is the only full-time employee tasked to the program. She hopes to hire two instructors and a lab technician to help set up the hands-on labs that the students must complete to earn their certifications.

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Students recognized at Halifax County School Board Meeting

The Monday night meeting of the Halifax County School Board meeting was a moment to celebrate student accomplishments.

From Team 977 Cometbots to the Halifax County High School Culinary Arts team that has qualified for national competition in Anaheim, Calif., students were in the limelight during an otherwise uneventful session for trustees in Halifax.

Also receiving plaudits and recognition were HCHS’s award-winning FFA chapter, and junior Jared Dawson of Nathalie, who recently earned a career certification in mechatronics at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and his degree at Southside Virginia Community College, where he took part in commencement this weekend.

Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg began the recognitions with a word of praise for the HCHS Leadership Program, under the guidance of Melanie Saunders. Lineburg noted that the juniors and seniors in the Leadership Program have begun taking an active role in school and community affairs, with students speaking before the Virginia General Assembly to help win passage of House Bill 1634, allowing Halifax County to hold a sales tax referendum.

“That class is really starting to turn into one of the most dynamic I’ve seen. It is starting to shape our county,” said Lineburg.

Pronouncing Halifax’s students as good as any school division’s anywhere, Lineburg turned over the floor to students and their advisors.

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SVHEC receives literacy grant

The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center has received a $10,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, one of $120,000 in literacy grants the foundation announced Thursday it was giving to Virginia nonprofit organizations, libraries and schools.

These funds are aimed at supporting adult, family and summer literacy programs within a 20-mile radius of a Dollar General store or distribution center across the 44 states Dollar General serves.

The grants awarded to Virginia organizations are expected to positively impact the lives of more than 5,000 Virginians.

“In keeping with Dollar General’s mission of Serving Others, we are excited to provide grants to support literacy and education initiatives in the communities we proudly call home,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO and Dollar General Literacy Foundation board member. “Each year, funds provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation make a real difference by providing the tools that students, adults and families need to pursue new opportunities and accomplish their goals. We believe these programs empower the communities we serve, and we are honored to play a role in their success.”

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Training Completers Celebrated at SVHEC

The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) celebrated its largest group of workforce training completers Wednesday at a ceremony with more than 230 people in attendance.Trainers

Brian Ball, the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade, served as the ceremony’s guest speaker.

“I know that this is one of SVHEC’s proudest traditions, and it is inspiring to be here today among such dedicated students, their families, staff and partners,” Ball said.

During his remarks, Ball emphasized the importance of a strong workforce and the vital role it plays in economic development.

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Main Street South Boston earns national accreditation

Destination Downtown South Boston has been designated as an accredited Main Street America program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center, Destination Downtown South Boston Executive Director Tamyra Vest announced Friday. Picture of Downtown South Boston

Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs to recognize their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach.

“We are proud to acknowledge this year’s nationally accredited Main Street America programs that have worked tirelessly to strengthen their communities,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These programs deserve recognition for generating impressive economic returns, preserving community character and celebrating local history. Main Street America Accredited communities are part of a powerful movement of changemakers, and their dedication to improving quality of life in the places they call home is inspiring.”

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Downtown Transformation Coming with SOVA Hub

Aerial View of SOVA Innovation HubThe SOVA Innovation Hub, future home of Mid-Atlantic Broadband and Microsoft TechSpark Virginia, is envisioned to become an even greater asset for South Boston’s future than what has already been announced.

As it now stands, the tech companies’ investment in downtown is one for the books.

“We’re thrilled about it,” said Betty Adams, executive director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, located on the other end of downtown from where the $5 million Innovation Hub will be built. “It’s been under discussion for quite a while.”

The two-story, 15,000 square foot building will become the new home of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communications Corporation, operator of the regional fiber optic backbone created decades ago by the Virginia Tobacco Commission, and Microsoft’s TechSpark Virginia initiative. The latter is a spinoff of Microsoft’s cloud computing campus in Boydton, and its presence downtown gives Halifax County a premium corporate nameplate to show off to the world.

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