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Augusta Tech Columbia County campus begins second year

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With one year in the books at Augusta Technical College’s Columbia County campus, President Terry Elam is looking ahead.

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A welding student finishes up a project at Augusta Technical College's Grovetown campus. About 60 full-time students are enrolled for fall.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
A welding student finishes up a project at Augusta Technical College's Grovetown campus. About 60 full-time students are enrolled for fall.

About 60 full-time students are enrolled for fall courses that started Aug. 20.

Elam said he’d like to see the enrollment number higher, preferably more than 100.

“I think we’re doing OK, but we’re going to have to put other programs out there to attract more students,” Elam said. “We’re continuing to look at new programs.”

One of those new programs is air-conditioning technology, Elam said. He said a medical assistant program also could be added soon.

“We’ve seen a tight budget from the state, so we’ve had to be very careful in the programs that we’ve started,” Elam said. “Our most popular program has been welding.

“If the lab was twice the size, we would have twice as many students. That’s been very, very popular simply because the job market is very good for that right now.”

The 22,000-square-foot school will continue to teach several core classes and likely will increase the number of learning support courses.

Elam praised the school’s adult education center and said he’ll likely begin adding joint-enrollment opportunities for high school students.

Augusta Tech’s start in Columbia County was anything but smooth. Plans called for the campus to be built in 2000, but state funding woes kept the project from starting until 2007.

Soon after the groundbreaking, work on an access road was halted because of wetlands. The road was built two years later and construction on the school followed after the Columbia County Development Authority donated land.

With funding scarce, only four full-time instructors are assigned to the Grovetown campus. Other teachers alternate among campuses when necessary, Elam said.

Elam said he has heard from many students who say the Columbia County location is convenient for them.

“The students are happy,” he said. “We have people who tell us, ‘I work at Fort Gordon. I can stop on the way home.’ ”


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