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Century and Partners Awarded $11.2 Million Grant to Expand O and P Programs

Century College and four partner institutions have been awarded $11.2 million in federal grant money to expand their Orthotics and Prosthetics programs. As the lead institution on the grant, Century will receive over $4.6 million. The college and its partners plan to train 1,736 students over three years to address the shortage of qualified workers in the field of orthotics and prosthetics.

In making this large grant award, the federal government is responding to the rapidly-growing number of individuals living with limb loss or disabilities due to chronic disease such as diabetes, or war-related injury. Increasingly, these individuals are finding it difficult to receive the care they need, particularly if they live in rural areas.

Century’s Orthotics program prepares students to care for patients with disabling conditions of the limbs and spine. The Prosthetics program prepares students to provided prostheses for individuals who need replacement limbs due to trauma, disease or congenital conditions. The technician courses at Century teach the fabrication skills needed to successfully complete a functional orthotic or prosthetic device. Increasingly, these devices use complicated technology, and Century will be expanding its program so that students are able to create the most up-to-date devices.

Century’s O and P program draws students from around the country, and the new grant money will allow the college to expand its distance learning offerings so that students who live outside of the Twin Cities can enroll in the program. Century’s partners on the grant are Baker College in Michigan, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Oklahoma, Spokane Falls Community College in Washington and St. Petersburg College in Florida.

Century plans to collaborate with a number of business and industry partners, including Ottobock in Plymouth, Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Tillges in Maplewood and Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

"As a graduate of Minnesota’s community college system, and a parent of two Century College graduates, I know the power of these institutions to fill the education needs of our communities," said Rep. Betty McCollum. "I congratulate Century and the other institutions on this achievement. This funding will help support the top-notch education curriculum for which Century is known."

In addition to Century and its partners, Pine Technical College in Pine City will receive over $6.89 million as the lead institution in a four-college, multi-state grant. Other Minnesota colleges that received money are Central Lakes College in Brainerd ($3.7 million), Ridgewater College in Willmar ($3 million), and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical in Winona ($1.76 million).

These grants will support high-growth, high-wage career pathways and training programs such as Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing. The field of Orthotics and Prosthetics attracts students who have mechanical as well as creative abilities, and students are most successful when they have a strong motivation to help others. Typically, about 10 percent of students in Century’s O and P program have a physical disability themselves.

One of Century’s most distinguished O and P program alumni is Melissa Stockwell, the first female American soldier to lose a leg in the Iraq war. In 2007, Melissa was named the Century College Exemplary Student and she delivered the college commencement address. Having competed as a swimmer in the 2008 Paralympics, she is currently working as a prosthetist in Chicago.