Featured photos: Civil engineer and environmental engineer at work. (Photo credits: sturti/E+ via Getty Images and porpimon Ainkaew/iStock via Getty Images.)

New Blue Ridge Engineering Technology Programs Meet Local Employer Demand

Photos: Sturti/E+ via Getty Images and porpimon Ainkaew/iStock via Getty Images.)

Marketing & Communications Dept.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C.  – To meet the regional demand for career-ready engineering technology graduates, Blue Ridge Community College will launch two new associate degree programs – Environmental Engineering Technology and Civil Engineering Technology. These cutting-edge programs were designed as a result of a comprehensive feasibility study conducted by the college to ensure a robust local demand for program graduates and a promising long-term job outlook. 

The programs were recently approved by the State Board of Community Colleges and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Blue Ridge’s regional accrediting body, and will begin in the fall semester of 2023. 

“We are educating students to meet the skills gap that exists today and into the future, creating new opportunities to train for high-tech, well-paying careers,” said Sharon Suess, chair of engineering and advanced manufacturing. “Graduates of these programs will find jobs readily available in the Henderson and Transylvania Counties, as well as throughout Western North Carolina.”

The demand for engineering technicians has been growing. Nationwide North Carolina is the fifth largest employer of civil engineering technicians. Environmental engineering technicians are also in high demand, with the NC Dept. of Commerce citing an expected 7% increase in job growth through 2028. The industry sector is projected to be the second fastest-growing in North Carolina with 18.4% growth over the next seven years.

Project Manager and Principal William R. Buie, P.E., of WGLA Engineering expects the new Civil Engineering Technology program will impact his company’s success.

“At WGLA Engineering, we believe the Civil Engineering Technology program at Blue Ridge Community College is vitally important to our industry and the community at large,” said Buie. “We have numerous employees who have graduated with Civil Engineering degrees, and they have gone on to be key contributors to our company and to significant projects in the region. Having this program at Blue Ridge Community College as a resource in Henderson County will supply the future workforce for our company and our industry.”

Civil Engineering Technology is a rewarding, fast-paced and high-demand field critical for building and maintaining the foundations of modern life. Civil engineering technicians work with civil engineers to help plan, build and design residential, commercial and land development projects and industrial infrastructure. These projects can include highways, bridges, wastewater and utilities. 

Those working in the Environmental Engineering Technology field improve environmental quality and public health and safety by limiting adverse environmental conditions, such as pollution. Environmental engineering technicians work with environmental engineers to help test materials, record observations, report results, and collect air, ground and water samples.

According to Environmental Engineer Starr Silvis, M.S. P.E., of the North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services’ Division of Soil & Water Conservation, environmental engineering technology graduates are greatly needed in Western North Carolina.

“There is a very strong demand for environmental engineering technologists in our region,” she said. “Graduates work in a variety of highly skilled fields that contribute to both public and environmental health including water quality, waste management, erosion and sedimentation control, sustainable infrastructure, stormwater management, water treatment, and environmental compliance.”

To give students an affordable path to their career goals, Free College scholarships are available to new and returning students through 2023. Through the extended Brighter Futures ‘Free College’ scholarship program, Blue Ridge will waive all tuition, fees and books costs to college-eligible students. More information about Free College is available at blueridge.edu/free-college

Interested students may find information about the College’s new engineering programs at blueridge.edu/engineering. The College’s fall semester class schedule is listed online at blueridge.edu/course-schedules

Registration for the fall semester, which begins August 17, 2023, is underway. Those ready to begin or continue their college journey can find out how to get started by contacting the College’s One Stop Center at information@blueridge.edu or 828.694.1800.