Georgia Piedmont creates new dual enrollment path

Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston was awarded nearly $350,000, and school leaders announced plans on June 4 to spend the grant on dual enrollment students studying the field of mechatronics.

A news release states that Georgia Piedmont Technical College was one of a handful of two-year colleges awarded $347,688 grants from the Advanced Technological Education program through the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant, called Strengthening High School Initiatives in Future Technology, or the S.H.I.F.T. grant, is for future high school juniors and seniors taking mechatronics classes at Georgia Piedmont.

“Mechatronics is a booming industry and is defined as a cutting-edge field that merges mechanics, electronics, and computer science to create intelligent machines and systems,” states a news release.

“This award allows us to introduce high school students to career options in emerging technologies that result in high wages,” said Georgia Piedmont Technical College President Tavarez Holston. “It is timely and relevant for regional workforce development efforts.”

Georgia Piedmont will use grant money to help provide a two-semester program designed to offer students a track to high school graduation by taking high school and college courses in a career-focused plan. Students on this path will complete their studies with two college technical certificates of credit by the time they graduate high school, according to the news release. The courses will run in fall 2024 and spring 2025.

“I am encouraged by the growing study of STEM by students — particularly those in K-12,” said Congressman Hank Johnson, the representative for Georgia’s 4th district who also announced the award. “Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s award of this grant not only advances the interest of students looking into mechatronics but gives those who would not otherwise be able to afford these courses an opportunity to grow their knowledge and provide them with valuable experiences.”

The S.H.I.F.T. project is expected to run for three years with grant monies going toward equipment, faculty stipends, and student support services. A total of 60 students will be recruited into the program, according to the news release. The collaboration between Georgia Piedmont and area high schools also means the participating students will have one-on-one career exploration opportunities in mechatronics and other STEM fields, the news release states.

Georgia Piedmont officials said the college has a large percentage of economically disadvantaged and underrepresented students in STEM industries, and that this “grant and the workforce education and training associated with it will allow dozens of young people opportunities that they may not have otherwise been afforded.”

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