Albany Technical College is receiving a large portion of a $10 million grant that is being distributed among some of Georgia's technical colleges.
"Our focus is STEM â" science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It's for a total of $2.4 million; that's $600,000 over the course of four years," says Albany Tech Grants Coordinator Angela Davis.
The grant is from the Predominately Black Institutions Program to help bring more African-American and low-income students to STEM college programs. The school says they grant is greatly needed given that Albany Tech is located in a highly economically disadvantaged region of the state.
"We have enough students in those programs for them to be viable and we graduated a few, but we don't have the numbers of course that we would like," says Albany Tech President Dr. Anthony Parker.
Albany Tech plans to use the money to allow more high school juniors and seniors to take college courses in engineering technology.
"We want to ease the transition from high school into engineering course work so that it will be as rigorous per course but not maybe as many courses to take in the beginning," says Parker.
The college is not solely focusing on enrolling high school students in postsecondary courses at Albany Tech, they also want to implement enough of an interest for science, math, engineering and technology that the students keep up with their studies and go on to meet requirements for programs like engineering technology.
"This is going to assist our students, getting those students better qualified to enter into our programs our engineering technology program," says Telecommunications Engineering Technology Instructor Kaven Williams, who is the product of a technical college himself. "We're noticing a trend with students not being able to pass or get scores high enough to be able to enter into these programs."
"Anything that we can do to encourage young people to participate in engineering technology programs, especially while in high school, may get them involved to a degree that they'll want to get an associate's degree, bachelor's or master's," says Parker. "We want to use it to give individuals confidence that they can do well when they transition or apply or enroll in this program."
While reports say engineering job openings are often far and few to find, Williams says those jobs will never go to the wayside.
"There's always new technologies, engineers are always going to be needed to design some of these devices and new next generation of devices that's going to enable our society, enable our nation to move forward," says Williams.
He says according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. biomedical and telecommunications engineering are two of the top 10 growing jobs with civil engineering at number 13.
Williams says he hopes funds from the federal grant help students move forward out of their socioeconomic situations and into a successful science or technology career path.
Albany Technical College has three programs in their engineering technology department: Civil engineering, telecommunications engineering and electro mechanic engineering.