Albany Technical College is located in Albany, the seat of Dougherty County and the commercial hub and urban center of southwest Georgia. Although Albany is known for its peanut and pecan production, its population is largely employed in the health care, education, defense, data-processing, and manufacturing industries. Albany Tech supports southwest Georgia’s workforce needs through its technical education and economic development programs; some of the college’s most noted associate degree and diploma programs are in the manufacturing, health care, and service industries. It is part of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
Albany Tech’s origins date back to 1961, when 175 students enrolled in the newly established Monroe Area Vocational-Technical School in Dougherty County. The president of the institution at that time was Howard Water. In 1972 the Albany Area Vocational-Technical School, which opened with twelve programs in 1962, merged with the Monroe Area Vocational-Technical School. The new school was called the Albany Area Vocational-Technical Institute. In 1976 Wayne Israel replaced Water as president and served until 1980. He was followed by Nathaniel Cross, who was president when the school, then called simply Albany Technical Institute, came under the direction of Georgia’s newly created Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) in 1988. Besides a two-year hiatus between 1992 and 1994, a term served by Alvin Anderson, Cross remained president until 1995, at which time Anthony Parker became president.
In 2000 Albany Technical Institute became Albany Technical College due to legislation (Georgia House Bill 1187) that allowed technical institutes offering associate degrees to become colleges. According to the DTAE’s 2005 annual report, 5,160 students were enrolled in certificate, diploma, or degree programs, and 4,230 were enrolled in noncredit courses. More than 2,000 students were enrolled in adult literacy programs offered by the college. Albany Tech also has adult learning centers in all seven of its service delivery counties: Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Lee, Randolph, and Terrell.
In 2007 the DTAE created the Technical College System of Georgia, an entity comprising the thirty-four colleges under its administration, and in 2008 the DTAE’s name officially changed to TCSG.
Technical Education and Economic Development Programs
The TCSG, in overseeing the state’s system of thirty-four technical colleges, its economic and workforce development programs, and its adult literacy program, has as its primary objective to create a well-educated, technically trained, and highly competitive workforce to ensure the economic success of the state and its citizens.
As with other technical colleges governed by the TCSG, admission to Albany Tech relies on eligibility and academic criteria: candidates must be at least sixteen years old (older for some programs) and possess a General Education Development (GED) diploma or high school transcripts. While some programs require a GED or high school diploma for admission, all candidates must possess a high school diploma or GED before graduating from any technical college program. Students can earn an associate degree, an expanded program of study that facilitates career mobility and continuing education at the baccalaureate level; a traditional diploma; or a technical certificate of credit, a short-term targeted program that prepares students for specific jobs.
Albany Tech’s 20,000-square-foot Manufacturing Technology Center helps educate and train workers for jobs in the manufacturing sector. In 2005 the school received $100,000 to start an electro-mechanical program at the certificate, diploma, and associate degree levels. The program is approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The college’s applied manufacturing technology program was designed to meet the workforce needs of Procter & Gamble’s Albany plant site and will continue to evolve according the industry’s specific needs.
In response to a lack of health workers specially trained to deal with the elderly, Albany Tech developed a gerontology program in 2006. Students can earn an associate degree in the fifteen-month program. The college’s commitment to the pharmacy technology industry was recognized in 2006 when Merck and Company, a pharmaceutical company with an Albany plant, donated $100,000 to the school’s capital campaign.
Albany Tech’s more recent emphasis on culinary arts and the hospitality industry has resulted in plans for a 40,000-square-foot expansion that will house a state-of-the-art kitchen as well as distance learning programs and logistics training for Albany’s Marine Corps Logistics Base. The school currently offers supply chain management and logistics courses for Marine Corps Logistics Base employees and for students interested in working at the base.
Working in tandem with its technical education programs, Albany Tech’s economic development office further contributes to southwest Georgia’s workforce needs. Quick Start, a nationally recognized program that develops training for new and existing industries in Georgia, and Albany Tech have formed partnerships with businesses in the area, including two telecommunications companies, Calltech Communications and Hamilton Relay, both of which now have call centers in Albany. Through this economic incentive program, the college will provide the companies’ employees with a forty-hour training program at no cost.
Albany Tech’s economic development office also runs the college’s Adult Computer Testing Center. Designed for businesses and individuals, the facility offers low-cost, comprehensive computerized training and testing services; thousands of available courses cover skill-specific training, continuing education, workplace skills assessment, and distance learning. On-demand training courses include adult literacy, computer basics, and information technology.