Owens STEM Programs Aligned with Jobs

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The Owens Community College Department of Applied Engineering and Industrial Technology has implemented academic changes with student success in mind.

The department recently revised the curricula in Applied Engineering Technology, Architectural Engineering Technology and Computer-Aided Drafting and added new programs in Alternative Energy-Photovoltaic Technology and Environmental Science, effective for the 2016-17 academic year.

“We worked with our advisory committee members, the people working in the industry, and aligned our programs with jobs,” said Terry Katschke, department chair. “The programs are more streamlined now and will help our students when it comes time for them to start their job search.”

The Department of Applied Engineering and Industrial Technology is part of the Owens School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), which offers more than 50 technical and transfer programs plus career certificates. In 2015, the Owens School of STEM received the designation “STEM Jobs Approved College” by STEMJobs.com.

“The workplace needs skilled, creative, problem-solving employees and we prepare students to be successful in the field that interests them,” said Glenn Rettig, dean of the School of STEM. “Our students really like the hands-on experience they get in the labs and this experience is what employers are looking for when they look to hire.”

The Applied Engineering degree previously featured nine options for completion. Now, students have one focused degree covering coursework in quality, drafting, machining, welding, electricity, safety and materials.

“We’re presenting students with more of a mechanical/electrical degree,” Katschke said.

Graduates will be prepared for entry-level positions in basic PLC (programmable logic controller), hydraulics, CNC (computer numerical control) machining, supervision, industrial electronics and manufacturing operations. Median salary for these positions is $45,000 to $52,000, according to current labor data.

In Architectural Engineering, course modifications incorporated sustainable construction techniques into the program. Also, students now learn on new modern software, Revit, which is aligned with software found in business and industry.

“We made these changes in response to industry requests and these changes were validated by our advisory committee,” said Reed Knowles, Owens professor. Labor data projects 3 percent growth in the architectural engineering field through 2024 with a median salary of $64,000 for workers with an associate degree.

Students entering Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) will experience changes designed for job preparation as well.

“The engineering and manufacturing marketplace is moving more away from board drafting to Computer-Aided Design using 2D and 3D solid modeling,” said Alan Bethea, Owens instructor.

A new hybrid course will blend board drafting skills and techniques while simultaneously introducing the basics of CAD drafting. Another course will provide special emphasis on more advanced tools and techniques in 2D and 3D modeling.

Bethea said the local job market continues to grow due to the recovering economy, making CAD graduates in-demand. Labor data projects more than an 11 percent growth for drafters in Ohio through 2022.

The new Alternative Energy-Photovoltaic Technology program is focused on preparing students for the growing job market in solar photovoltaic systems, which have become more affordable and used in large grid systems in the U.S. the past few years, according to Randy Haar, Owens instructor.

In the classroom, students are taught both technical and business subjects as well as courses in CAD, PLC and project management.

Labor data forecasts installation jobs will grow 24 percent through 2024. The current median salary is $40,000. In sales, data projects job positions will grow 7 percent in the same time period. Workers in those positions are currently earning a median salary of $75,000.

The new Environmental Science Concentration prepares students for transfer to four-year universities to pursue a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, environmental and occupational health, environmental policy or other science related major. Students also may pursue technical-level employment upon graduation with an associate degree.

“You can use Environmental Science to make a difference in the world,” said Mary Kaczinski, Owens professor. “Environmental Science has good employment and career opportunities without requiring an advanced degree, such as a Ph.D.”

Students who complete the bachelor’s degree pathway may work as environmental scientists or specialists for environmental firms, private industry, or the state or federal EPA. The median salary with a bachelor’s degree was $66,000 and with an associate degree $20 per hour, according to 2014 labor data. Job openings are expected to grow up to 11 percent through 2024, according to labor trends.

For more information about academic programs in the Department of Applied Engineering and Industrial Technology, call (567) 661-7164 or go online to www.owens.edu/stem.

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