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TCC alum earns first technical studies degree and a new position

Ken Magee always planned on getting his degree, but life got in the way until now.

The 53-year-old father of two is the first to earn TCC’s new technical studies degree. Designed specifically for skilled workers who need formal education to advance their careers, the program awards up to 23 hours of credit for prior relevant job-related training and professional experience.

That allowed Magee, who received all 23 credits thanks to his background working at Virginia Natural Gas, to earn his Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies in just one year.

Twenty years ago Magee started with a shovel in hand installing and maintaining natural gas service lines for Virginia Natural Gas. Today, as a college graduate, he is the manager of community affairs at the company.

Magee at the Joint-Use Library

“This promotion is directly related to my degree. My managers saw what I was capable of doing and that I had the will and determination to see the program through,” Magee said.

Launched in 2018, TCC’s technical studies transfer degree allows students to seamlessly transition to Old Dominion University’s industrial technology major. Starting this fall, the associate can be completed 100% online; students will pay nothing for textbooks.

Magee plans to transfer to ODU next year.

 “It was always in the back of my mind to get my degree, and the years continued to come and go,” he said. “It was when Virginia Natural Gas partnered with TCC to give credits for experience that I was really sold.”

Participating companies provide their employees tuition reimbursement, making their investment in education even easier to achieve.

Magee credits his own “motivational team” at his workplace with encouraging him to complete the program.

He’s not the only community college graduate in the family, either. Son Kenneth, 25, began at TCC studying business administration, and daughter Talia, 21, completed the dental hygiene program at Thomas Nelson.

 “Your degree is something that you will use the rest of your life. It opens up your value to your company,” said Magee, who graduated with 3.0 GPA.

Magee now encourages others to follow in his footsteps.

“It’s important to invest in yourself,” he said. “Never put limits on yourself, develop a strong support system and then get going!”

TCC expands its online options so you can earn your degree without coming to campus

If you think you don’t have time to come to campus for college, consider pursuing one of Tidewater Community College’s online degrees or certificates. Three are brand new this fall semester, which starts on Aug. 19.

TCC offers 15 in-demand programs fully online. On the list: Business Administration, General Studies, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, Accounting, Acquisition and Procurement, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management, Industrial Technology, Management, Land Surveying and Technical Studies.

TCC’s newest online programs are:

*Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
*Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision
*Career Studies Certificate in Acquisition and Procurement

TCC’s online programs offer the identical degree or certificate you would be earning if you were attending classes on campus.

And with 24/7 access to your virtual classroom, you can fit college study into your schedule on your time.

New! Hospitality Management 

Tourism is among the top three industries in Hampton Roads, and businesses are eager to please tourists and business travelers. If you have a people-first mentality, TCC’s hospitality management degree can prepare you for a fulfilling career in the lodging industry.

You’ll take courses in supervisory management, accounting, communications, cost control and marketing – a wide range to prepare you with the business background necessary to succeed in this dynamic field.

New! Technical Studies 

Your technical knowhow gives you a head start with this degree. This program rewards you for technical skills and professional experience already mastered. Start with up to 23 credits of advanced standing.

TCC launched this degree specifically for skilled workers who need formal education to advance their careers. The program is also one of our Z-Degree offerings, meaning you will pay zero for textbooks.

New! Acquisition and Procurement

This certificate prepares you for employment or advancement in positions within the industry. Accelerated curriculum enables you to complete the program in just two semesters

Course work covers contract law, pricing, negotiations and other processes. You will learn how to process requests for materials, manage inventory and troubleshoot issues with orders. Students are also instructed in the fundamentals of contract pricing and negotiation.

Interested? Find one-on-one help with financial aid, academic advising and registering for classes on any campus during Special Enrollment Day on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. New students can also receive help from TCC’s student support team by calling 757-822-1111 or emailing

Technical Studies degree now offered 100% online with no textbook cost

A year after Tidewater Community College launched an associate degree designed specifically for skilled workers who need formal education to advance their careers, the program is becoming even more flexible for its students.

Starting this fall, TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision can be completed 100% online and students will pay nothing for textbooks.

That’s more good news for the degree that continues to garner industry support.

“We came to TCC because we saw the need for our employees and worked together to develop a program that would award credit for technical knowledge and work experience,” said George Faatz, director of growth & strategic planning at Virginia Natural Gas. “TCC heard us, acted on it and created a program that fits our needs and the needs of many in the Hampton Roads workforce.”

Students in the program can be awarded as many as 23 credits for relevant job-related training and prior professional experience, a plus for skilled workers who don’t have two years to dedicate solely to academics to earn an associate degree.

Since the program launched in partnership with Old Dominion University, companies including Busch Manufacturing, LLC, Oceaneering and Virginia Natural Gas have come on board.

Participating companies cover tuition and fees for their employees. As the program is now part of the college’s Z-Degree, students will use open educational resources instead of traditional textbooks. That translates to paying nothing for textbooks.

In addition to offering all classes online, students can also continue the face-to-face option if they prefer.

Moving forward

Mike Petrice, organizational development manager at Busch, joined two of his apprentices in pursuing the degree last year.

“Getting credits for past work was a huge morale booster and what gave me the motivation to keep going,” Petrice said. “I’ve been in manufacturing for 32 years and managing people for over 20 years. The material I’m learning in class often gives me that ‘Oh, now I know why we do it that way effect,’” he said.

Petrice received the maximum of 23 credits given his background, meaning he needs 37 more to earn his associate degree. He recommended the program to all the employees in Busch’s machine shop. “I thought I’d be the oldest student in the class at my age, 49,” he said. “But once I got there, I’m right in the middle. It’s a comfortable environment.” 

Coursework focuses on industrial supervision, technical writing, information literacy, quality assurance, team concepts and problem-solving and more.

Ken Magee, newly named manager of community affairs with Virginia Natural Gas, is anticipated to be the first student to earn the degree, completing coursework requirements this summer. He plans to transfer to Old Dominion University’s industrial technology program. Magee is one of four employees in the program from Virginia Natural Gas recently promoted to supervisory or management roles.

With the graying of the workforce in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, education and professional development are essential for the Hampton Roads economy.

“We are seeing plenty of retirements, creating opportunities for people to move up,” Faatz said. “This degree prepares employees for supervisory, management and ultimately, leadership roles.”

Guy St. John, apprentice program manager at Oceaneering, agreed. “We are responsible for bringing up new craftsmen, as well as supervisors and leaders. 

“The Technical Studies degree is a continuation of what these employees are learning in their trade and advances their knowledge in other areas, including supervision, communication and advanced technical skills.”

Want to learn more?

For more information on how your organization can get employees on track with the Technical Studies degree, email Karen Miller, program coordinator of the college’s Apprentice Institute, at

Prospective students can contact the new student support team @ for information.

With new technical studies degree, your work experience = college credit, saving you time and $$

Going from zero to the 60-some credits needed to earn an associate degree can be an overwhelming prospect if you work all day as apprentices Terrance Myers II and Matthew Ramsey do at Busch Manufacturing. Likewise for their manager, Mike Petrice, who started at the Virginia Beach industrial vacuum equipment supplier decades ago but never took the time to earn a college degree.

But thanks to a recent partnership between Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, all three are on their way to an associate degree and perhaps a bachelor’s.

TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision doesn’t require them to start with 0 credits in the bank. By taking into account relevant job-related training and prior professional experience, each of them can be awarded as many as 23 credits.

Given that, Myers said,  college “doesn’t feel so daunting anymore.”

The Great Bridge graduate initially got hired at Busch in the facilities department, but responded as Ramsey did to a post seeking apprentices. Neither would have pictured themselves going that route years ago. But earning wages while having schooling paid for made sense to both, who have already gained career studies certificates in computer numerical controls and basic metal and plastic machine operator.

The TCC-ODU partnership allows students who graduate from TCC with the Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision to transition into ODU’s industrial technology major.

With both apprentices on board, Petrice considered his own goals. “In 1987, you didn’t need a degree to become a manager,” he said. Already an adjunct instructor at TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions, he’d like to work as a consultant when he eventually retires from Busch.

He realized, “I need a degree.”

So Petrice enrolled in the program, too. It starts with a Tuesday evening gateway class taught by Thomas Stout, TCC’s dean of STEM, who helps each of the students document their technical skills and professional experience in a portfolio. From there, a determination is made as to the number of credits TCC will award for advanced standing.

Petrice is likely to receive the maximum of 23 credits given his background, meaning he will only need 37 more to earn his associate degree. Ramsey could also receive 23 credits given his experience in the Army, a year of college at VMI and the learning he’s mastered as an apprentice.

Myers initially thought his portfolio would be thin but realized the safety and quality training he learned at Busch was applicable. He started making a list of relevant training under Stout’s direction, skills that will translate into college credit.

Petrice believes the associate degree is a good fit for others and recommended it to all the employees in Busch’s machine shop. “I thought I’d be the oldest student in the class at 49,” he said. “But once I got there, I’m right in the middle. It’s a comfortable environment.”

“No matter what you plan to do,” Ramsey said, “a degree gives you an advantage against the guys you’re competing against whether it’s here at Busch or down the road.”

To learn more about TCC’s technical studies degree visit