With one year in the books at Augusta Technical College’s Columbia County campus, President Terry Elam is looking ahead.
About 60 full-time students are enrolled for fall courses that started Monday, with enrollments still being accepted.
Elam said he’d like to see the enrollment number higher, preferably at more than 100 students.
“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, said Elam. He said a medical assisting program also soon could be added to the list.
“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 initially called for the campus to be built in 2000, but state funding woes kept the project from starting until 2007. Soon after the ground-breaking, work on an access road halted because of wetlands.
Two years later an entrance road was built and construction on the school followed after the Columbia County Development Authority donated land to Augusta Tech.
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’s heard from many students that 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.’”