Augusta Tech plans ambitious growth and awaits deal with cyber giant

The many changes in store at Augusta Technical College include an announcement so hard-hitting it was postponed until more people could help share the news.

Less than an hour before Augusta Tech President Dr Jermaine Whirl announced an academic deal between the school’s cyber program and one of the world’s largest tech companies, the decision was made to delay the announcement until lawmakers in the Augusta area can be present, Whirl said Thursday.

Earlier this year, Newsweek magazine named Augusta Tech among just three two-year colleges in the United States with senior cybersecurity programs.

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The new corporate partner will provide training which, in many cases, will lead to professional accreditation. Students and faculty will be able to use the company’s product platform, including a supercomputer. Companies that operate supercomputers include IBM, HP, Dell, Cray, and Fujitsu.

“We’re going to save this, to make this announcement later, but I mean you might want to buckle up,” Whirl told the audience at the school’s Jack B. Patrick Information Technology Center auditorium. “It’s very important to be at the national level with this organization.

Whirl often used the word “big” on Thursday to describe the two-year school’s intended trajectory, as he shared details of new projects such as the introduction of the Georgia Film Academy certification program to Tech. The state has become a Mecca for film and television producers, and the Augusta region has hosted dozens of productions in recent years.

Augusta Technical College President Dr Jermaine Whirl announced Thursday that the school's campuses are being renamed to reflect a renewed focus on producing workers to fill some of the Augusta area's most in-demand jobs. .

“When I first got to Augusta, it was one of the first questions I had about cinema, actually the very first question,” he said. “Someone asked me, ‘When are you going to bring the Film Academy to Augusta? “”

The answer: next spring. Augusta University and 16 other colleges in the state offer the program, which trains support technicians in the use of cameras, lighting, sound, grips, and other aspects of film production.

“It’s one piece of a larger product that we want to eventually bring to Augusta, which is a top-notch sound studio, and as you know, film is a very popular product here in the state of Georgia. “said Whirl. “Augusta and this region are really, really ready to develop this industry. We’re very, very, very excited about this.

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On a larger scale, the school’s I-20 Innovation and Technology Corridor plan will rename the Tech campuses with new workforce “identities” focused on staffing high-demand jobs in the workforce. work of the Augusta region.

Augusta Tech officials have “quietly worked on a deal” to secure a long-term lease on property adjacent to the Augusta medical district to establish a separate health sciences campus. This would give the school its first downtown presence since it left its training facility across from the University Hospital in 1987.

The technology has “completely overtaken” its current health career training space on its main campus, Whirl said. Space Tech seeks to lease would quadruple the capacity of its 23 health science programs

“We have a lot of space. We have updated it as much as possible, ”he said. “But we can’t get more students until we have more space. ”

Tech’s McDuffie County campus near Thomson will put more emphasis on training students in supply chain management, at a time when the slow movement of manufactured goods has recently become a critical issue for business and government. In addition, a new range of training at this campus will help students obtain their commercial driver’s licenses and become truck drivers, as the need for longer haul truck drivers increases.

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The Grovetown Tech Campus will focus on advanced manufacturing. A 75,000 square foot facility will provide training space to simulate manufacturing procedures, and Whirl said it will be the largest advanced manufacturing training facility in the entire Georgia Technical University System.

The building would also provide space for economic development officials to help attract business and industrial prospects to the Augusta region, providing spaces to establish temporary production or sales space, and to research and develop products.

Talks also began between Tech and leaders of the region’s county public school districts to explore the idea of ​​creating “vocational universities and academies” where high school students could study for tech jobs while earning credits for. high school and technical school.

“If you’ve been through college in the past 10 months you’ve probably seen we’ve been a little busy,” Whirl said. “Lots of opportunities, lots of upcoming projects and lots of exciting opportunities for CSRA.”

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