Atlanta Technical College is located in southwest Atlanta, in Fulton County. The school’s service delivery area covers all of Fulton County south of the Chattahoochee River and Clayton County. Atlanta Tech offers programs in the fields of health and human services; business, media, and information technology; and skilled trades. In 2005 the Atlanta Tech programs with the largest numbers of graduates were aircraft powerplant technology, carpentry, cosmetology, early childhood education, and nursing. The college is a member of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
Atlanta Tech’s origins date back to 1945, when adult students were enrolled in the Smith-Hughes Vocational School in downtown Atlanta. The school offered twenty-four occupational programs by 1964, at which time it relocated to Smith High School and was renamed Hoke Smith Technical Institute. In 1967, under the leadership of Robert Ferguson, the school moved to its current location and became Atlanta Area Technical School. Ferguson was succeeded by interim president George Dalusky in 1974. Other past presidents of the school are Curtis Henson (1974-77), Betty Campbell (1977-91), Lorraine Walton (interim, 1991-92), and Jerry Adams (1993-96). Brenda Watts Jones became president in 1996, making her the first African American woman in Georgia to lead a technical institution. She served until her death in August 2007, when Alvetta Peterman Thomas became acting president. Thomas was named president the following year.
Atlanta Tech, renamed Atlanta Technical Institute, joined the Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) in 1997. In 2000 the school became Atlanta Technical College due to legislation (Georgia House Bill 1187) that allowed technical institutes offering associate degrees to be called colleges. In 2004 the Cleveland L. Dennard Building, a $6.1 million state-of-the-art conference center available to the college community and business partners, opened on the main campus.
According to the DTAE’s 2005 annual report, 6,132 students were enrolled in certificate, diploma, or degree programs, and 7,475 additional students were enrolled in noncredit courses at Atlanta Tech. The school also offers continuing education classes and a full-service adult computer testing center, which provides training and testing for businesses and individuals as well as a courseware library covering such topics as adult literacy and personal development.
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.
Atlanta Tech was ranked number one in Washington Monthly magazine’s inaugural list of “America’s 30 Best Two-Year Institutions” in 2008. The ranking was based on graduation rates and on a survey of students conducted by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, which measured such factors as teaching quality and student-faculty interaction.
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 programs, 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 Atlanta Tech relies on eligibility and academic criteria: candidates must be at least sixteen years old (older for some programs) and must provide high school transcripts. While possession of a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) diploma is only an entrance requirement for some programs, all students must have a high school diploma or GED prior to graduation from an Atlanta Tech program. 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.
In late 2006 Atlanta Tech received from the U.S. Department of Labor a $2.1 million job-training grant for new health care programs. In 2007 Atlanta Tech’s various health care and dental programs produced a total of 164 graduates. That same year the college broke ground on a new allied health building, demonstrating the college’s commitment to the health services industry in the Altlanta metropolitan area, where Emory Healthcare and WellStar Health System were two of the largest employers in 2007.
Delta Air Lines is another large employer in Fulton County, and Atlanta Tech has had a longstanding commitment to aviation technology. In 2005 eighty Atlanta Tech students graduated with technical certificates of credit in aircraft powerplant technology. In 2001 Delta donated a Rolls Royce RB 211 aircraft engine to Atlanta Tech in support of a partnership between the college and the Delta Technical Career Academy, created in 1998.
A further indication of Atlanta Tech’s commitment to area industry is its 2002 partnership with automaker BMW. In an effort to support minority students from low-income metropolitan areas and to fill open positions for BMW dealership service technicians, BMW created MetroSTEP, an advanced auto-training program. The auto company tested the program using Atlanta Tech automotive graduates in 2002. Students who successfully completed the twelve-week training program were hired by the participating dealerships.
In 2007 the heating, cooling, and refrigeration technology program produced 205 graduates, the largest number from Atlanta Tech that year. The college administered more than eighty programs of study in 2008.