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SBCC’s Construction Technology Program Granted Associate Degree/Certificate Status

New status will allow the program to continue to evolve to meet student and industry needs

Santa Barbara City College’s Construction Technology program has received associate of science degree/certificate status from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

The conferred degree/certificate status will be a major benefit for the program, according to SBCC Construction Technology Department chair Dr, Patrick Foster.

“We are now eligible for additional federal funding and will draw more students as a degree signifies official college completion of a course of study,” he said. “Prospective employers also look more favorably on job candidates who have earned degrees or certificates.”

The CT program was founded six years ago by SBCC in response to the local construction industry request for assistance with a better trained workforce. Since that first beginning construction class, more than 1,500 students have enrolled in the curriculum, which now offers 21 courses, including classes at local high schools that participate in the college’s Dual Enrollment Program. One full-time and five part-time faculty teach a wide range of subjects, such as construction remodeling, building green, contractors’ licensing program and blueprint reading.

Although the program was focused initially on residential construction, it has evolved in tandem with changes in the construction industry through a collaborative working relationship with a local advisory committee.

“Environmental sustainability and green technologies are the wave of the future,” Foster said.

“Green collar” construction demand has created such new courses as Introduction to Photo Voltaic Systems, Weatherization and Sustainability Audit.

And while the overall economy has been down, construction in Santa Barbara, including residential, commercial and green collar, has remained consistent, Dr. Foster said. Any dips in construction actually create a bigger demand for training.

“When people are out of work, that’s when they go back to school for training and updating their skills,” he said.

Frank Schipper, chairman of Schipper Construction in Santa Barbara and a board member of the Foundation for SBCC, was the first industry professional to approach the college about establishing a construction program.

“I believe it has done a lot of good for the industry,” he said. “When construction is in a hiring mode, a graduate of this program will go to the top of line.”

He added that SBCC receiving the degree/certificate status would encourage students to go on to a four-year degree in construction management or construction engineering.

The CT program also reaches out to the community by partnering with local nonprofit organizations. Students have volunteered for such projects as helping build a Habitat for Humanity house and building the dance stage at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens for the annual Fiesta celebration. Through a federal grant, the CT program also partnered with the Workforce Investment Board to offer free green-collar training for at-risk Santa Barbara County Youth Corps students.

The Santa Barbara Contractors Association presented its annual President’s Award to the Construction Technology program in 2009 for of its significant contributions to the advancement of the construction trades. The college also was honored in 2009 with the Green Campus Leadership Award at the Green California Community College Summit.

“Santa Barbara City College’s Construction Technology program has expanded through support from the local construction industry. It has also evolved over time to meet workforce and community needs, thereby fulfilling a key mission of the college,” said Dr. Douglas Hersh, SBCC dean of educational programs. “Receiving the degree/certificate status from the State Chancellor’s Office is an important educational credential for SBCC and our graduating students as they enter or return to the job market.”

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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