South Georgia State College has received approval from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to offer a new Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology (BSMET). The highly anticipated degree was approved September 15 at the Board of Regents meeting in Atlanta. The program is scheduled to launch fall 2021.
"South Georgia State College's spring 2014 commencement was a pivotal moment in the history of the college," said SGSC President Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers. "The first cohort of students walked across the stage to receive a bachelor's degree in nursing. That historic event set SGSC on a path to grow its baccalaureate degree portfolio over the next six years, with Mechanical Engineering Technology being SGSC's eighth bachelor's degree. We are grateful to the University System of Georgia and for the support of our local employers for helping to make this happen."
John Henry, CEO of the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber and Economic Development Authority, finds value in the program and how it will play an integral part in our community. He explained, "This new engineering program will not only benefit employers in South Georgia, but it will also provide a great alternative for students to learn, work, and live in our region. It is very exciting to know that we will now have the resources to help grow South Georgia State College, our workforce, our industries and our community. We are very fortunate and thankful to Dr. Thompson-Sellers and her team for having the vision to make this a reality."
The new BSMET program will focus on learning the principles of mechanics and applying them to specific engineering systems. Students will also learn to design testing procedures, prototype and operational testing and inspection procedures, manufacturing system-testing procedures, test equipment operation and maintenance, and report preparation. Students will complete 120 credit hours in the BSMET program. There will be concentrations in engineering, mathematics, and science in addition to completing SGSC's core curriculum courses. The program will also incorporate experiential learning opportunities through internships and hands-on training in order for students to apply the knowledge they are learning.
Making SGSC's bachelor's degrees affordable to students is a priority of Dr. Thompson-Sellers and her team. The BSMET program will be no different as it will be offered at the same credit hour rate as SGSC's associate degree pathways. "BSMET students will obtain a high-quality degree in mechanical engineering technology that is affordable while also having the chance to stay in the local community," said Dr. Thompson-Sellers.
Collaboration is vital to the creation of any new degree program at SGSC. Interest in the BSMET program was received from local industry partners and other community stakeholders, which will help meet a specific skill that is in high demand within the local workforce.
"True collaboration between industry and higher education can produce tremendous results, both for today and the future," explains Karl Zimmer, President and CEO of Premium Peanuts, the largest peanut-shelling facility in the world. Premium Peanuts uses an innovative approach to the peanut shelling process, making the company a good fit for BSMET graduates.
Zimmer continues, "A key element of this collaboration is aligning today's educational opportunities with the needs of tomorrow's workforce, providing students the skills to be successful post-graduation while filling a need within industry. The new Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology program at SGSC exemplifies this collaboration; it is a program that is critically needed as we look to continue building a strong talent pipeline to support industry throughout the south Georgia region. I am thrilled with the leadership of Dr. Thompson-Sellers and her entire team in bringing this program to fruition and look forward to working with them to ensure its success."
Satilla Rural Electric Membership Cooperation (REMC) President and CEO Romeo Reyes is supportive of the new program, not only as a local business leader and engineer but as a SGSC alumnus. "I fully support SGSC's efforts to offer this degree and value the talent it can cultivate in a student. The well-rounded and rigorous curriculum will develop a skillset beneficial to area businesses and grow a workforce with a specialized understanding of mechanics. The knowledge gained through this program will greatly benefit our region," Reyes said. "I am encouraged and excited at what the future holds at my alma mater as SGSC looks toward developing programs such as this to connect graduates with the local workforce."
Enviva Biomass Managing Director and Chief Operations Officer Mark Gaddy said the BSMET program will benefit not just Enviva Biomass but other industries in the area. "We feel that a local program would attract students who would like to become an engineer and pursue a career in the local area. As our area has various large manufacturing facilities, we feel this program would also be beneficial to South Georgia in general to assure the development of future engineers," Gaddy said. Enviva Biomass is the largest wood pelletizing plant in the world, located in Waycross.