UNION COUNTY — More than 120 students have enrolled for the spring semester at the Union County Advanced Technology Center and while some classes are already full and others nearly full, officials say there is still time and room for more to register.
The technology center has been enrolling students for the spring semester since November and held on-site registration and placement testing on Thursday.
Site Coordinator Kathy Jo Lancaster said she was pleased with the results of the registration process and urged those who haven’t registered for the semester to do so.
“I’m very pleased with enrollment numbers for the spring term and we still have students coming in to register for classes which begin January 8,” Lancaster said Thursday morning. “So far we have a total of 122 students enrolled. Also, a lot of these students are enrolled in multiple classes.
“I’m very pleased with these numbers and there’s still plenty of time for students to register,” she said. “We will be here on Friday until 5 p.m. and Monday and Tuesday until 5 p.m. for students to register.”
In 2013, the center graduated its first class of welders with an academic credential. The 12 students enrolled in the welding program at the center in 2012, four of whom graduated at that the end of the fall 2013 semester. At the time of their graduation, all four of the graduates had found employment with the skills they learned taking the class.
Students who successfully complete the certificate program can get jobs in the power industry, manufacturing, construction, and as self-employed welders. Those who get work in those areas can command salaries ranging from $12 to $40 an hour.
This has no doubt been a factor in the popularity of the technology center’s welding program, a popularity that continues into the spring semester.
“The morning welding class is full,” Lancaster said. “We only have about three slots remaining in the afternoon welding class.”
The other eight students in last year’s welding class — two of whom are also now earning a living with what they’ve learned — could have also graduated but instead opted to pursue advanced degrees in welding, mechatronics, and manufacturing, taking part of their remaining coursework at Spartanburg Community College.
With advanced training and degrees in these areas, students can command even higher salaries in the construction, power, nuclear energy, and gas turbine production industries, especially if willing to travel. Salaries begin at $20 an hour and include overtime, bonuses, and per diem, including $400 a week per diem in living expenses for welders who travel to job sites.
This has also no doubt been a factor in the popularity of the mechatronics and related courses offered by the technology center.
“It looks like we’re going to be running two classes in our mechatronics certificate program,” Lancaster said. “There will be a class in Industrial Safety and a class in Hand Tool Operations. This will be the first time we’ve offered the Hand Tool class.”
Lancaster said that anyone interested in taking classes this semester and needs more information about registration and/or the possibility of financial aid including scholarships and grants, should call the center at 864-466-1060 as soon as possible.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.