By Bob Fowler, Roane State staff writer
Laura A. Hofman had been on the job for just over one month, and the phone in her office was ringing off the hook.
She oversees Roane State Community College’s new two-year Associate of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering Technology. Prospective students are inquiring about the new program, which the Tennessee Board of Regents approved in December.
An information session about the new program will be held on Thursday, March 28, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the college’s Oak Ridge campus, 701 Briarcliff Avenue. Check-in will be held in the lobby of the Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building.
A recent job notice from a local government facility lists completion of the college’s new program as a requirement, and that spurred the interest, Hofman said.
“This new degree program meets a critical skills gap in our community,” said Markus Pomper, dean of the division of Mathematics and Sciences.
Established with the assistance of UCOR, CNS, Tate and Lyle, and additional partners, Roane State’s chemical engineering technology program trains students to work as chemical operators. A chemical operator monitors, controls, and troubleshoots automated chemical processes.
“We developed this program with valuable input from three large employers in our area, and we are excited about offering this opportunity to our students,” Pomper said.
Hofman, the program director, shares Pomper’s excitement. “The opportunity for these (chemical engineering technology) students is phenomenal,” she said.
Hofman said her job now is three-fold: get the new program up and running, recruit and enroll students, and “work with employers to ensure the program and graduates of the program will support employers’ hiring needs.”
Her goal, she said, “is for this program to develop a reputation where if a company has an opening for a chemical engineering technologist, they’ll want a Roane State graduate.”
The three chemical engineering technology classes being offered in the spring semester are being held at night on the Oak Ridge campus, along with Saturday sessions at the WACKER Institute, a pilot plant on the Chattanooga State Community College campus.
Hofman has a PE in Chemical Engineering and has used her expertise at nuclear plants and processing facilities across the country. She brings 35 years of engineering experience to her position as director of the college’s newest educational opportunity.
“I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work, and I know the value of a background in chemical engineering technology,” she said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
This story was submitted by Owen Driskill.
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