PHCC, Michigan university ink transfer pact
Klint LowryNEW PORT RICHEY - In an effort to enhance its role in the educational and economic development of the area, Pasco-Hernando Community College has reached out - 1,200 miles out - to its newest academic partner.
Published: February 23, 2010
Published: February 23, 2010
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, a signing ceremony was held at PHCC's West Campus as the school entered into an articulation agreement with Kettering University, in Flint, Mich. An articulation agreement between schools means that students can follow a curriculum for two years at one college, often a community college like PHCC, then transfer all the credits and enter a four-year school as a junior and finish off a bachelor's degree.
Such agreements are common, but this signing ceremony drew a conference room full of representatives, not only from both colleges but from local education and business development organizations because of its potential impact on the area.
"Our mission is to prepare students for employment and for life," PHCC president Kathryn Johnson said in her opening remarks. This is PHCC's first articulation agreement with an out-of-state university, and they were doing so because this partnership presented such a valuable opportunity to fulfill that mission.
"It might seem strange," Johnson's counterpart, Kettering University president Stanley Liberty added about the long-distance relationship, "but there is a logic to this."
Kettering has been looking to the Sunbelt for such agreements as both population and industry has shifted southward, Liberty said. Kettering has no trouble pitching itself to other schools. U.S. News and World Report's annual "America's Best Colleges" survey has ranked Kettering's Industrial and manufacturing engineering program No. 1 in the country 10 of the last 11 years. This year, the school ranked No. 2 in mechanical engineering, as well.
The hardest aspect of establishing articulation agreements, Liberty said, is finding schools that have programs that can easily mesh with Kettering's. PHCC was one of the easiest fits they've ever come across, he said.
It also helped that the Suncoast has so many Kettering alumni who were excited about the idea of developing an educational pipeline that should support existing businesses and help spur new growth, particularly in Pasco County.
"This is going to be a gem in our community, It's a stupendous thing they are starting today," said John Hagen, Pasco Economic Development Council CEO.
Even in these days of high overall unemployment, companies across America find it hard to find skilled, qualified engineers. If Pasco County can establish itself as a place that raises its own engineering talent, it will have a tremendous potential to help existing businesses and draw new ones to the area.
One of the Kettering's strongest facets is its philosophy, which Liberty called "experiential education." Through its cooperative education program, the university places students in long-term assignments with greater responsibility than in traditional internship programs.
Ideally, Liberty would like to see upperclassmen return from Michigan back to Pasco for such assignments as part of their education.
Chuck Puccini, president of Odessa-based Coastal Caisson, can't wait to see that. When he brought in someone from Kettering, the student was offering innovative ideas and perspectives on a huge project within three weeks. Since then, Puccini said, the foundation contracting company has brought in several more Kettering students.
"In today's world, you don't have time to set up training," Puccini said. Like so many companies, he's had no choice but to look overseas for engineers. The prospect of developing and having first pick of homegrown talent would be like a dream come true.
Students can immediately take advantage of the new articulation agreement. For more information on PHCC, including enrollment visit the college's Web site. For more information on Kettering University, visit check it Web site.
Klint Lowry can be reached at 727-815-1067 or email@example.com.