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Pieces of Eight


 

Enrollment Skyrockets for Technology, Computer Science

By Erica Plouffe Lazure

ECU’s College of Technology and Computer Science increased enrollment of majors more than 200 percent in the past five years. From 495 majors in fall 2001, the College now has over 1,719 majors, ECU records show.

Established in 2003, the college has gained momentum from students in search of degrees that will enable them to find technology based, well-paying jobs, in a wide range of career areas, said Ralph Rogers, dean of the college.

“It all comes down to jobs,” Rogers said, citing partnerships with organizations such as the National Homebuilders Association, Caterpillar, IBM, Rural Resourcing, Naval Air Depot at Cherry Point, and Centex Homes.

The College has nine undergraduate degrees and six graduate degrees in four departments: computer science, construction management, engineering and technology systems.

Rogers credits the enrollment surge with student recognition of the growing opportunities in technology careers in general and specific careers such as construction management, and information and computer technology. The growing enrollment is also fueled by the availability of ECU distance education programs in the college especially the B.S. in industrial technology.

Through a partnership with 58 community colleges in North Carolina, ECU’s “2+2” B.S. Industrial Technology program has added 100 new students since spring 2006. The program was refocused in 2003 to align with the Associate of Applied Science degree offered by community colleges. The transfer program enables students to apply up to 64 community college credits to earn a bachelor’s of science in industrial technology at ECU.

In construction management, with an enrollment of 600, demand for ECU graduates is high across the country, Rogers said. Some move to middle management, others own their own companies. A construction site is a good example of the changes in the work place which require a technology driven college degree.

“These days, if a person is going to a construction job site, they’ll most likely have a laptop computer, a Global Positioning System and a bar code reader. All drawings are now computerized through AutoCad programs. Construction today is sophisticated and it’s cost-conscious.” Rogers said. “Our challenge is how do we bring these things together in a program?”

The BS Engineering program, established in 2004, is the newest degree in the college. It is increasing enrollments annually to the target of enrolling roughly 100 new students annually and plans to graduate its first class in spring 2008.

The increased demand for technologically savvy workers with hands-on skills will contribute to continuation of enrollment increases, because so many occupations today rely heavily on technology based systems, Rogers said.

“Whatever occupation you’re into, it’s dominated by technology. We are part of the infrastructure. When we see what the 21st century economy looks like, we have to use technology to be competitive.

“Our students not only learn how something works and how to use it today, but also how to adapt to a changing and very competitive environment.”

7/29/08
This page originally appeared in the Dec. 8, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/Arch.cfm.