Augusta Technical College is located in Augusta, the state’s second oldest and second largest city and the seat of Richmond County, which lies along the Savannah River and the South Carolina state line in east central Georgia. In 2006 Augusta was ranked among the “Top Ten Places in the South with Plenty of Talented Labor” by Southern Business and Development magazine.
The only technical school in Georgia to win the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Award of Excellence, Augusta Tech offers programs in allied health sciences, business, information and engineering technology, and industrial education. In 2005 the program with the largest number of graduates was computer systems networking and telecommunications. Other popular programs were emergency medical technology and administrative assistant and secretarial science. In addition to Richmond County, Augusta Tech serves Burke, Columbia, Lincoln, and McDuffie counties. The college is part of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
Augusta Tech began in 1961 as Augusta Area Vocational-Technical School. Two separate campuses were led by two directors, George Hardy and Raymond McKinley. In 1966 the school merged with Richmond Area Vocational School, and the name changed to Augusta Area Technical School. Jack Patrick became president in 1977, and the school moved to its current location in 1981. By this time Augusta Tech was offering more than thirty diploma programs. The school converted from local to state governance in 1987 and came under the direction of the newly formed Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) in 1988, at which time its name changed to Augusta Technical Institute.
In the 1990s, under the direction of Patrick and his successor, Terry D. Elam, Augusta Tech expanded its programs by building a new health sciences building on its main campus; constructing two new campuses in neighboring Thomson, in McDuffie County, and Waynesboro, in Burke County; and assuming responsibility for Augusta’s office of adult literacy. The Thomson campus opened in 1997 with 184 students in 10 credit programs. Terry Elam, the current president of Augusta Tech, assumed the position in 1997. The Waynesboro campus opened in 2000. That same year, due to legislation (Georgia House Bill 1187) that allowed technical institutes offering associate degrees to be called colleges, Augusta Technical Institute became Augusta Technical College.
Expansion continued with the addition of a new student services and classroom building on the Augusta campus in 2003. In September 2007 the college broke ground for a new campus in Columbia County, near Grovetown.
According to the DTAE’s 2005 annual report, 7,080 students were enrolled in certificate, diploma, or degree programs. An additional 6,528 students were enrolled in noncredit courses, and 3,540 students were enrolled in adult literacy programs, which are offered in all five of Augusta Tech’s service delivery counties.
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 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 Augusta Tech relies on eligibility and academic criteria: candidates must be at least sixteen years old (older for some programs) and must be high school graduates or possess a General Education Development (GED) diploma for admission to all associate degree programs, allied health programs, and most diploma and certificate programs. Once accepted, 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. Joint or dual-enrolled high school students must be at least sixteen years old.
In 2005, 325 students received degrees, diplomas, or certificates in Augusta Tech’s computer systems networking and telecommunications program. Augusta Tech’s commitment to the technology industry is demonstrated by the college’s operation of the Augusta–Richmond County Small Business Incubator. Opened near the Augusta campus in 1999, this particular small business incubator was created to foster entrepreneurs and small businesses by providing managerial and technical assistance, low office rental rates, and shared access to office services and equipment. The program was originally envisioned as a high-tech incubator and continues to target high-tech organizations.
The second-highest number of graduates in 2005 was 146, in the school’s emergency medical technology program. Four out of five of the largest employers in Richmond County in 2005 were related to the medical industry (Central State Hospital, MCG Health, Medical College of Georgia [later Georgia Health Sciences University], and University Hospital), and there has been an increasing demand for paramedics in Augusta Tech’s service area since 2005. In addition to its emergency medical technician program, Augusta Tech is addressing area health industry needs by expanding its allied health and nursing division.
Other noted programs at Augusta Tech include media communications, printing and graphics, and culinary arts, all of which were featured at the 2007 “Taste of the Technical Colleges,” an annual event that showcases new and exciting programs offered through Georgia’s technical colleges. Augusta Tech’s Early Childhood Care and Education Center received state accreditation by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s Standards of Care program in 2006. To date only 55 centers out of 8,000 statewide have been awarded the same honor.
Augusta Tech’s economic development initiatives include its Service Industry Academy, which trains and certifies students in communications, customer service, and computer skills, and guarantees an employment interview with one of half-a-dozen participating companies. Augusta Tech has also forged three-way partnerships with Quick Start, a nationally recognized program that develops training for new and existing industries, and with the companies Procter & Gamble and Solo Cup, which have plants in the Augusta area.
Additionally, Augusta Tech maintains a partnership with the School of Information Technology at Fort Gordon’s U.S. Army Signal Center.