South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster participated in a ceremonial signing of legislation permitting Greenville Technical College and the state’s other technical colleges to offer an applied baccalaureate degree in advanced manufacturing technology. The bill was approved earlier this summer by the House and Senate, paving the way for the governor’s approval.
Further approvals are needed before the program can be launched. Greenville Technical College is currently seeking permission to move forward with the curriculum from the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, the Commission on Higher Education, and the college’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Need for this educational option was voiced by some of the area’s strongest manufacturing employers including Michelin, GE, and Bosch Rexroth. The program will prepare graduates to assume technical and managerial leadership positions in the growing global manufacturing sector, which drives South Carolina’s economic strength.
Students will study at Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), where they will gain hands-on experience using manufacturing equipment including a 5-axis machining center, fully automated manufacturing systems, robotics, additive manufacturing technology, industrial hydraulics, pneumatics, and mechanical systems. They will have the opportunity to participate in industry-led, collaborative research projects as part of their education. Through these experiences, they will build portfolios that document mastery of teamwork and application of new and emerging technologies to real-world manufacturing problems.
“With one of the greatest technical college systems in the world, it makes perfect sense that we would give South Carolinians the opportunity to utilize those institutions of higher learning to contribute to one of the fastest-growing manufacturing industries in the country,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “I’m proud to have signed this bill into law and grateful for the impact it will have on our efforts to strengthen South Carolina’s workforce for generations to come.”
“With the signing of this legislation today, the game has changed in South Carolina, giving Greenville Technical College improved ability to meet the workforce needs of industry,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of the college. “We greatly appreciate our leaders in state government for recognizing the need to add a tool that allows us to deliver on our mission of transforming lives through education as we build a strong workforce.”
Currently, applied baccalaureates are offered by two-year colleges in 19 states, and several other states are somewhere in the approval process. About 90 two-year colleges now offer around 900 baccalaureate programs.
The applied baccalaureate in advanced manufacturing technology at Greenville Technical College will not duplicate anything offered by a four-year institution and will be very different from a traditional bachelor’s degree. The degree will be technical in focus with a project-based curriculum. Learning will be active, engaging, and hands-on.
Students may be veteran employees working as technicians and needing a degree to advance or those seeking a career in the advanced manufacturing sector. Graduates will be able to implement advanced technology to improve plant performance and efficiency with technical skills beyond what can be covered in an associate degree. Students completing the program will be able to lead interdisciplinary teams and manage complex manufacturing design and process improvement projects.
They will demonstrate technical experience in manufacturing processes such as CNC machining, welding, PLC programming and robotics applications as well as new and evolving technologies including additive and subtractive manufacturing, intelligent manufacturing systems, and advanced metrology. They will be skilled in data analysis and its application to problem solving and in financial principles that apply to manufacturing processes and decisions.