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New Edinboro University degree program expands skills of region’s workforce

First students to enroll in January

11/12/2012

A new Edinboro University degree program that expands career opportunities for workers who have technical training and helps to meet the region’s need for a more skilled workforce will begin educating its first students in January.

AAS, the Associate of Applied Science in Applied Technology program, is designed to complement certificate-level technical training with college-level knowledge. Its courses in essential math, communication, business and technical skills are offered at both The Porreco Center in Erie and Edinboro University in Meadville, Pa. Information will be available at  an open house Tuesday, Dec. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Porreco Center, 2951 W. 38th St., Erie.

“The AAS program can provide the added skills that employers are looking for and workers will need to make a career for themselves in the long haul,” said Dr. Denise L. Ohler, Assistant Dean of the University’s College of Arts & Sciences. “It’s a solid academic, yet practical, degree program that employers are seeking.”

The program is open to individuals who have completed a diploma or certificate program at an approved technical school within the last five years. Students also can choose to complete the college coursework before beginning their technical training.

In all, the Associate degree requires 60 academic credits, of which up to 27 credits can be earned through diploma or certificate training at qualifying technical institutions. The college courses can be completed in two or three semesters.

Special reduced fees are being offered, saving the student more than $1,000, and financial aid is available. The program is also approved for Trade Adjustment Assistance for the retraining of workers who have become unemployed because increased imports or the shift in production to foreign countries.

In return for investing in their future, students will gain an introduction to manufacturing quality control and other competencies which, in conjunction with the Associate degree, will help them stand out as candidates for hiring and promotion.

“If we are considering two job candidates, both with similar technical training, the individual with the additional education and skill would definitely have the advantage,” said Mark Fuhrman, director of sales & marketing at C&J Industries in Meadville.

The AAS was launched in June 2012 in response to growing awareness in the region that good-paying jobs were going unfilled because of a lack of qualified candidates. At the same time, the number of technical/manufacturing jobs are projected to grow. A November 2011 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce projected more than 635,000 job openings in manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) clusters in Pennsylvania by 2018.

“Manufacturing is alive and well in Western Pennsylvania,” Ohler said. “There are still a lot of quality job opportunities.”

The AAS program will prepare students for occupations such as engineering technicians, industry team leaders, quality coordinators, new product development coordinators and sales specialists, among others.

Edinboro University is finalizing agreements with the Precision Manufacturing Institute in Meadville and Erie Institute of Technology in Millcreek Township. Agreements with additional technical schools are being pursued.

Eligible PMI programs are in CNC Machining, Mechatronics Technology and Electric Arc Welding. Qualifying EIT programs are Heating, Ventilation,  Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology;  CNC/ Machinist Technician; Electrician; Maintenance Technology;  Industrial Automation & Robotics Technology;  Welding Technology.

Applications are now being accepted at www.edinboro.edu/aas. Additional information about the program is available by calling (814) 732-2761 or toll-free at 888-8GO-BORO