Southwest Tennessee Community College

OCTOBER 15, 2004

For more information, contact: Kimberly Stark (901) 333-4023

SOUTHWEST’S “JUST IN TIME EDUCATION” SENDS HIGH-SKILL WORKERS TO HIGH TECH COMPANIES
Release written byPat O'Brien

High school graduates collect their diplomas, along with technical certificates from Southwest Tennessee Community College, and walk right into well-paying entry jobs in some of Memphis’ top technological companies.

It’s happening now, and according to Dr. Greg Maksi, chair of the Engineering Technologies department at Southwest, it’s just the beginning. What’s more, people wanting to better themselves in new careers can put in two semesters – day, evenings or weekends, however their jobs demand – and find excellent starting opportunities in those same companies.

“Just in Time Education” is Maksi’s term for a set of programs designed specifically to give technology students the most convenient scheduling for their education, and companies the precise skills they need in their employees. The six technical certificates comprise six courses each, in six technology areas. These form the core for a program with more Just in Time courses to move students along their career paths as their education and experience mature. And companies find it a paying proposition to help finance the further development of their employees’ skills.

“We’re expanding longstanding partnerships developed by our Workforce Development and Continuing Education division with local business and industry,” said Maksi. “These certificates were devised to give students basic skills to become employees in companies requiring them to qualify for specific industrial certifications prescribed by code.”

The three new programs are Architectural/Construction Fundamentals, Electrical/Electronic Fundamentals, Industrial Computer Fundamentals; and the revised ones are Manufacturing Fundamentals, Manufacturing Graphics and Quality Assurance. Each progresses seamlessly into Southwest associate degree technology programs that expand education for career advancement. Beyond that, the University of Memphis accepts the associate degree on a student by student basis for entry into their engineering technology baccalaureate programs. During this extended study, often financed in wholly or in part by their employer, students are working and gaining experience in their chosen fields.

Getting with the program

Qualified high school students, starting as early as their junior year, register for dual enrollment at Southwest. They get both high school and college credit, and by going during the summer, can complete their technical certificate by their high school graduation. Qualified candidates who have a high school diploma or equivalent can complete the six courses in two semesters and be ready for their high tech career in less than a year. This course load usually allows the student to continue in a full time job.

According to Maksi, “Just in Time Education is ideal for students who can’t afford to devote two straight years to getting their associate degree. In fact, many have to stretch it over three or four years, usually working at something unrelated to their career field. That’s not efficient. And it’s bad economy both for students and our growing high tech industry that needs good technicians now.”

“More and more,” said Maksi, “we are working with some of the area’s top companies to design exactly the programs needed to prepare useful, skilled technicians, who can contribute to the company starting on day one. And it’s not just for big companies; advanced technology and well-trained technicians are essential now to the efficient running and growth of smaller companies. Our program is working for them, too.”

Interested companies and students can learn more about the advantages of Just in Time Education by visiting www.southwest.tn.edu/engineering or calling (901) 333-4158.