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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 tcc.edu/technical-supervision.

New Technical Studies program bridges gap between workplace skills and college degree

Back row, from left: Thomas Stout, TCC’s dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; Todd Estes, director of TCC’s Apprenticeship Institute; Kellie Sorey, TCC’s associate vice president for academics; Brian Payne, ODU’s vice provost for academic affairs; Jane Bray, ODU’s dean of the Darden School of Education; Tammi Dice, associate dean for undergraduate education at the Darden School; Daniel DeMarte, TCC’s executive vice president for academic and student affairs. Front row: Ellen Neufeldt, ODU’s vice president for student engagement and enrollment services; Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani, TCC president

Thanks to a new transfer agreement between Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, adult and non-traditional students can earn college credit for their knowledge, training and skills in the workplace.

The agreement aims to address the growing needs of local business and industry partners by providing college credit to skilled workers who often need formal education to advance their careers.

Old Dominion’s Ellen Neufeldt, vice president for student engagement and enrollment services, joined Edna Baehre-Kolovani, president of TCC, at a signing ceremony on May 21.

Students who earn TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision, and have significant and documented occupational experience and technical training, can seamlessly transition to ODU’s industrial technology major, offered through the Darden College of Education.

“Together with Old Dominion, we have taken an innovative approach to breaking down the barriers that often inhibit adult learners with significant technical skills from furthering their education,” said President Kolovani. “We’ve created an academic pathway that they can carry over to the doctorate level if they choose.”

Various businesses, industries and agencies, such as Virginia Natural Gas and apprenticeship partners, approached TCC to explore how the college can help highly-skilled employees bridge the gap between professional expertise and formal education.

Kellie Sorey, TCC’s associate vice president for academics, said TCC welcomes opportunities to meet employers’ needs in innovative ways.

“The Technical Studies associate degree with the Technical Supervision specialization will allow TCC and ODU to recognize and reward individuals for their unique and significant work experiences in business and industry, the military and registered apprenticeship programs,” she said.

Those with documented technical skills and professional experience can receive nearly half of the associate degree with advanced standing credit, “putting them well on the way to completing the associate and bachelor degrees.” ODU will accept all credits awarded by TCC, she said.

Every student will take a new gateway course, co-created and co-taught by TCC and ODU faculty, during which their knowledge, skills and abilities will be assessed in order to award advanced standing credit.

Jim Kibler, president of Virginia Natural Gas, said his rapidly growing industry has many good employees who need formal education to advance.

“The ability to apply on-the-job experience toward furthering their education is a tremendous opportunity for our talented energy professionals to achieve their personal and professional goals,” he said. “We’re committed to rewarding and retaining an inclusive workforce to ensure our customers receive the most responsive, reliable service possible. After all, we are our customers too.”

Todd Estes, director of the Apprenticeship Institute at TCC, added, “This agreement represents an ideal intersection between higher education and workplace learning. It puts in place the framework, the assessment methods, where individuals can come in with significant experience or prior learning and actually be rewarded and acknowledged for what learning has already taken place.”

“I am very pleased to see the positive result of the strong partnership between ODU and TCC,” said ODU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Austin Agho. “This innovative, collaborative articulation agreement provides eligible TCC graduates the opportunity to seamlessly transfer into the bachelor of science occupational and technical studies degree at  Old Dominion University.

Petros Katsioloudis, chair of ODU’s STEM Education and Professional Studies Department, and a leader in creating the new agreement, said it meets a clear need.

“Currently, the industrial technology program enrolls roughly 120 students and is projected to add 300 students over the next two years,” Katsioloudis said. “We are extremely excited and confident that the new model will better serve the skilled workforce in our area and nationwide.”

Tammi Dice, associate dean for undergraduate education at the Darden College of Education, added that the College “extends the benefits of higher education to corporations. Ultimately, students can minimize unnecessary coursework based on prior learning assessments, which allows them to re-enter the workforce with a degree sooner and with advanced skill,” she said.

Those who have completed registered apprenticeships, active duty and transitioning military, and employees of companies with highly structured and robust training programs are ideal candidates.

“I can’t wait to get my journeymen, my employees enrolled in this program,” said Guy St. John, apprenticeship program manager for Oceaneering International. “ It’s going to be beneficial to the industry. It’s going to be beneficial to our community. It’s going to be beneficial to the nation.”

For details on TCC’s new associate degree, visit www.tcc.edu/technical-supervision.