The money comes from $474.5 million in funds to colleges and universities nationwide in a U.S. Department of Labor effort to develop and expand innovative training programs in growing industries and strengthen partnerships with employers.The fields include information technologies, advanced manufacturing and health care, all of which Eastern Florida is targeting with new programs in 2013-14.
The funds will play an important role in starting the college’s four-year computer science degrees in Software Development, Program Development and Project Management and Networking Services, said college officials.The programs are scheduled to begin in August 2014, pending Florida Department of Education approval.
The funds will also be spent to expand tracks in the Associate of Science Degrees in Cyber Security that the college began offering this year.In all, the money will be used to hire faculty and support staff, purchase computers and software, and develop curriculum for the programs.
“This is great news for the college and our students, many of whom are looking at our new degrees to obtain the skills they need for today’s workforce,” said college president, Dr. Jim Richey.“The grant shows that we’re focused on the right fields that will pay the biggest dividends for graduates in gaining good jobs in local and regional industries.”
The college partnered with Brevard Workforce in submitting the grant with two goals in mind: providing new career opportunities for NASA workers who lost their jobs when the space shuttle program ended, and opening advanced areas of study for workers wanting to enter fast-growth high-tech industries.The college gained letters of support from two local high-tech companies, Harris Corp. and Ferno Washington, which hire Eastern Florida graduates.
The Harris letter stated the grant would have a “strong, positive impact on individuals,” allowing them to gain the education for “high-wage, high-skill employment while meeting the industry’s need for workers.”Meanwhile, Ferno officials spoke of their partnership with the college in helping create the new degrees and their commitment to “attracting additional students to careers in information technology."
In announcing the awards, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said colleges such as Eastern Florida are playing a “vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today.“As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with the skills their company needs to stay competitive, and America's students and adult workers want to be equipped to fill those roles,” he said.
“These grants help to meet those demands, providing critical investments in education and supporting key partnerships."Eastern Florida was one of 12 colleges in the Florida College System to receive a grant with state institutions gaining a total $30.5 million.
The largest amounts were awarded to Broward College with nearly $13 million and the College of Central Florida with $3.2 million.Eastern Florida was part of a seven-college consortium led by the College of Central Florida that sought funding.