St. Petersburg College (SPC) is one of just 11 institutions nationwide selected by a leading higher education organization to bolster educational programming in high-opportunity STEM fields.
The American Association of Community Colleges awarded SPC with a $20,000 MentorLinks grant to advance its Environmental Science Technology A.S. program by focusing on a structure that shortens the time to degree completion and incorporates industry feedback, relevant work experience and undergraduate research opportunities to improve student work readiness. The grant pairs awarded institutions with a mentor from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technical Education community to provide valuable technical assistance, shared expertise, networking and faculty professional development to accelerate the process.
In fewer words, the grant essentially will help SPC graduates stand out from other Environmental Science Technology job seekers across Tampa Bay, according to Professor Maura Scanlon.
“It is our goal to integrate additional industry certifications into our existing Environmental Science Technology degree program to better match our graduates to local employers, especially in water resources and renewable energies, including solar,” Scanlon said.
As an ecological watershed, Pinellas County and Tampa Bay show high demand for water resource technicians and individuals skilled in environmental monitoring. Jobs in Environmental Science Technology are expected to soar in the Sunshine State, jumping more than 15 percent over the next decade.
That demand could boost enrollment in SPC’s Environmental Science Technology program, which typically serves over 150 students a year. Scanlon and Professor Amanda Gilleland, both whom will oversee the grant at SPC, note that graduates in this field are able to find high-wage employment opportunities.
“We are seeing our students hired after graduation by local municipalities for their water and parks departments and in the private sector by environmental assessment and remediation firms,” Gilleland said.
Environmental Science Technicians who have an associate degree earn an average of over $44,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.