Premium Peanut is paving the way for students interested in pursuing a career in the field of engineering technology at South Georgia State College. The company has committed to make the first gift in support of SGSC's plans to offer a new bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology (MET).
SGSC President Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers noted, "As a small community in a rural area, we know the value of strong partnerships that create mutual long-term benefits. As such, this is the kind of investment that will cultivate dividends for years to come."
Premium Peanut, the single-largest peanut shelling facility in the world, knows firsthand how important a skilled labor force is to its own operations and to the economic growth of the entire region. The company began its operations in early 2016 in Douglas, Ga. Since that time, the company has expanded to include a filtered crude peanut oil facility located adjacent to the shelling plant. An important component for the company has been the partnerships with researchers, developers and farmers to ensure peanut production remains on the cutting edge of agriculture. The insight gained from the partnerships has maximized the level of production and created an economic benefit to the region.
While the company has grown, President and CEO Karl Zimmer finds the lack of skilled labor a challenge, which is consistent throughout the region. "In the state of Georgia, great work has been done to open access to higher education for business and industry. We should continue to target educational opportunities to skills and areas that will directly tie to those needed in the state's workforce," explained Zimmer. He added, "Engineering and technical skills definitely fall into this category, and the addition of the BSMET degree at SGSC will be of direct benefit to local businesses, including ours. That is why we have committed our support to this program."
Thompson-Sellers realizes the impact Premium Peanut's contribution will have for the BSMET program. "Most students enroll in college with intentions of being gainfully employed after they graduate and receive their credentials. Engineering technology is an applied field of practice that produces graduates who will be employable in companies like Premium Peanut."
Zimmer added, "SGSC has integrated the program with local stakeholders, including their thoughts and input into the program design. The early inclusion of ideas from community partners is applauded and appreciated."
The BSMET degree, SGSC's eighth bachelor's program, is scheduled to launch in fall 2021 and is now accepting students. Once they have applied and been accepted into the program, students will be able to get a quality education at an affordable price with flexible course schedules. This will allow them an opportunity to work and continue their education while staying close to home. Practical experience opportunities will be in place with integrated classroom training and internships to prepare students to contribute to, and earn a living from, local community businesses post-graduation.
"Premium Peanut is one of our industrial partners who will work with our students so that they receive some real-world, practical experience during their course of study. Ultimately, the students, our industry partners, the community, and the college will benefit from this depth of engagement," said Thompson-Sellers.