In my 15 years at Vermont Technical College, I have seen much press coverage about our institution and its graduates. Recently, some coverage has focused on fiscal and enrollment challenges. It is important for Vermonters to know that Vermont Tech still provides a premier career-oriented education, and that our many successes and continuing opportunities eclipse any short-term difficulties.
The Architectural and Building Engineering Technology Department, in which I teach, is rich with examples.
Did you know:
That a wood-framed, landscaped seating area (parklet) in downtown Montpelier was designed and constructed recently by students as a course project? The parklet, which is the first in the state, provides a community space for residents and visitors to the city.
That a team of students developed the structural engineering design of a hospital as part of a capstone course, and that the team placed third in the 2011 national Structural Engineering Institute student design competition? Yes, third in the nation.
That another student team’s engineering system design for a New York City research and development building placed second in the 2013 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers international student competition? Yes, second in the world.
Other successes are easily found beyond my program. Vermont Tech’s CubeSat, one of a dozen launched last fall, is currently the only one still operating as originally conceived. The satellite is part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program, created to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, programs. One might say that achievement is out of this world.
Several weeks ago, 47 high school students graduated from Vermont Tech’s Vermont Academy of Science and Technology, completing their high school experience while earning a year of college credit. Some students will remain for Vermont Tech degrees; others will continue on to prestigious universities across the United States. One graduate received a Gates Millennium scholarship, only the second Vermonter to do so, and is continuing on at Georgetown University.
Each June, students graduate from the practical nursing curriculum to enter the workforce. When you are treated and comforted by nurses in Vermont, the odds are good that they received a Vermont Tech education.
Why do we tout such successes? Because STEM fields are the careers of the future that will be in demand, with job stability and good to excellent salaries. In addition, we focus on practical and pragmatic education, ensuring that students are immediately productive for employers. Such productivity is essential during a tight economy and lean business practices.
It is important for Vermonters (and non-Vermonters alike) to be aware that our college transforms students’ lives. As one colleague recently reminded me, Vermont Tech students attend college to develop friendships and sometimes find the loves of their lives. I need look no further than to a pair of 2013 graduates who met at Vermont Tech, fell in love, and thanks to their work ethic and educational preparation at Vermont Tech about the buildings industry, live together as recent grads with a household income over $100,000. These are the fairy tales of the 21st century, and they are unfolding at Vermont Tech.
Vermont Tech’s programs are rigorous, and our support systems for students are many. Our students gain a technical foundation complemented by communication abilities and other soft skills. We work many hours with our students in classrooms, laboratories and design studios to ensure they receive high value for their education dollar. We do everything we can to sustain our reputation for ensuring our students get a good job after graduation. This is the real story behind what’s happening at Vermont Tech. If you are looking to be both challenged and rewarded in the next phase of your education, come join us and see for yourself.
Scott A. Sabol lives in Northfield and is a professor at Vermont Tech and a licensed structural engineer.MORE IN Commentary
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