Albany Technical College students (left to right) Ken Cole, Brandon Telfair, Ben Warren and Taylor Collins work on the team’s NASA Rover, or “moon buggy.” (Staff photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — Officials from Albany Technical College and Central Georgia Technical College participated in a teleconferenced roundtable discussion Friday with U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez at the ATC’s Manufacturing Technology Building on South Slappey Boulevard.
The purpose of the roundtable was to present to Perez, who was in Atlanta, the impact of the Labor Department’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant (TAACCT) has had on the colleges.
Among those present in Atlanta for the teleconference included Dr. Anthony O. Parker, president Albany Tech; Dr. Shirley Armstrong,vice president for academic affairs, Albany Tech; Justin Strickland, president, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission; Joel Wernick, president/CEO, Phoebe Putney Health System; and U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop who initiated the teleconference.
In September of 2012, three schools — Albany Tech, Athens Technical college and Atlanta Technical College, named the ATCx3 Consortium, were awarded the TAACCT grant. Albany Tech’s share of the grant funds was approximate $1.2 million over the three-year period, school officials say.
According to Wendy Howell, executive director of marketing and public relations at Albany Tech, the purpose of the grant was to meet the educational or career training needs of workers who have lost their jobs or who are threatened with job loss as a result of foreign trade.
“We’re finding out what’s going right and what can be done to make things better,” said Thomas Perez at the teleconference. “These grants are the game changers, they’re very effective in helping to qualify people to punch their ticket to the middle class. But it’s frustrating, because we have far more qualified applicants than money to give out.”
Shortly after Perez’s brief address, a four-person team of Albany Tech students enrolled in electromechanical and civil engineering were given a few minutes address the teleconference roundtable on the NASA Rover or “moon buggy” the team is building and how grant funds may affect their futures.
“It’s important to let them know they can make it,” said Theodosia Lovett, one of the Albany Tech achievement coaches. “We’ve have really good success at all of that.”
Howell said the program focus at Albany Tech has included civil engineering technology, drafting technology, electomechanical engineer technology and industrial systems technology. As a part of these programs, Howell said a “Prior Learning Assessment” or PLA component has been developed and implemented in an effort to shorten the time of course completion for students who meet eligibility criteria such as military occupational specialties, industry certificates and corporate training.
Since the grant’s inception, 163 students have been served, with 35 graduating with a mean grade point average of 3.0, Howell said, and have been placed in well-paying jobs at businesses and institutions including MARS Chocolate North America, City of Albany, Marine Corp Logistics Base (MCLB), MillerCoors, Coates & Clark, SRJ architects, Inc, Technical Associates and others.
In addition, Howell said opportunities exist for students who want to further their education t move on from Albany Tech and earn a bachelor’s degree with Southern Polytechnical State University or Middle Tennessee State University through articulation agreements.