Altamaha Technical College is located in Jesup, the seat of Wayne County, with satellite campuses in Baxley (Appling County), Hazlehurst (Jeff Davis County), and Ludowici (Long County). Altamaha Tech provides postsecondary education programs in fields ranging from business technology and industrial technology to health sciences and personal services. The school’s mission is to meet the future economic challenges of southeast Georgia. Altamaha Tech is part of the Technical College System of Georgia, which is administered by the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
In December 1988, after the state legislature appropriated $5.4 million for a new postsecondary vocational-technical school in the Appling–Wayne County area, C. Paul Scott began serving as Altamaha Tech’s first president, in Jesup. Under the direction of the Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE), the school opened as Altamaha Technical Institute in the summer of 1989, after Jesup’s licensed practical nursing program was transferred to Altamaha Techfrom Waycross Ware Technical School (later Okefenokee Technical College). More programs were offered that fall, and in 1992 the school received accreditation from the Council on Occupational Education. Additional facilities and services gradually grew in Appling, Jeff Davis, and Long counties, which, together with Wayne County, make up Altamaha Tech’s service delivery area.
In 2000 Altamaha Tech became Altamaha Technical College due to legislation (Georgia House Bill 1187) that allowed technical institutes offering associate degrees to be called colleges. According to the DTAE’s 2005 annual report, 1,894 students were enrolled in certificate, diploma, or degree programs, and 1,437 additional students were enrolled in noncredit courses. More than 1,000 students were enrolled in adult literacy programs offered through the college. In 2006 Cathryn T. Meehan (later Cathryn T. Mitchell), longtime president of Southeastern Technical College, was appointed interim president of Altamaha Tech after Scott retired from seventeen years of service as president of the college.
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 Altamaha Tech relies on eligibility and academic criteria: candidates must be at least seventeen years old (older for some programs) and possess high school transcripts. In dual enrollment programs, applicants may be as young as sixteen years old. While some programs require a General Education Development (GED) diploma or high school diploma for admission, all students must earn a high school diploma or GED before completing 50 percent of any diploma or degree program offered by Altamaha Tech. If these requirements are met, 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.
Altamaha Tech’s associate degree, diploma, and technical certificate of credit programs include computer information systems, criminal justice technology, early childhood education, nursing, process manufacturing technology, and technical studies. The school’s facilities are tailored to meet the needs of each individual program and offer hands-on instruction. A mock-up house with wooden siding, a shingled roof, and interior sheetrock walls built by construction students now supports the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning program, which used the space for simulated on-the-job training. The program yielded 88 graduates in 2005. The commercial truck driving program sports a fully interactive system that simulates a tractor-trailer and cab with functioning controls, and 149 students graduated from that program in 2005.
Business partnerships created through Altamaha Tech’s economic development services enhance Altamaha Tech’s education program. With the help of Quick Start, a nationally recognized program that develops training for new and existing industries in Georgia, the college forged a partnership with BP Fabrics and Fibers in 2003. Producers of erosion cloth and carpet backing, BP designed a curriculum of training provided free of charge to the company by Altamaha Tech and four other Georgia schools (Bainbridge State College, North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville, Valdosta Technical College (later Wiregrass Georgia Technical College), and West Georgia Technical College in LaGrange).
Altamaha Tech also participates in dual enrollment programs with local high schools. High school students eager to get a head start on their careers can attend courses at the college and receive both high school and college credit. Participants can earn a technical certificate of credit and move directly into the job market, continue their technical education at Altamaha Tech or another technical college, or attend a four-year university.
New programs inaugurated by the college include a heavy-equipment service-technician program, begun in 2005, in partnership with Yancey Bros. Company, the nation’s oldest Caterpillar dealer. In 2006 Altamaha Tech began offering a certificate in computer forensics and investigation. Already equipped with computer information systems and criminal justice programs, the college was poised to offer career training for what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted would be one of the fastest-growing occupations between 2004 and 2014.