The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday February 26th

Community college system looks to modify curriculum

A statewide curriculum overhaul in the N.C. Community College System seeks to prepare students for a changing economy.

In a move that will follow an increasing demand for students trained in energy efficiency, the Code Green Super Curriculum Improvement Project is expected to reduce the number of degree pathways, while introducing courses to train students in green technologies.

The project was presented to the State Board of Community Colleges at the board’s meeting last Thursday.

Frank Scuiletti, academic program coordinator for the state community college system, said the board is likely to vote on the initiative at its August meeting. If it passes, the changes would take effect in the 2013-14 academic year.

As many as 77 curricula will be reduced into 32 core standards, said Butch Grove, the project’s director.

As a result, program majors such as architecture and carpentry will share the same foundation courses.

Scott Ralls, president of the N.C. Community College System, said the changes will allow students to easily transfer between curricula or obtain multiple certifications.

“So you have an architecture degree but also want carpentry skills,” said Ralls. “You don’t have to start back over in the carpentry program. You already have the baseline, you are just adding the specific occupational skills.”

The project will also create 47 new courses and revise 219 courses. Many of the course changes integrate energy efficiency skills.

Andrew McMahan, director of the energy curriculum improvement program for the N.C. Association of Community Colleges, said the changes are meant to give students more options in emerging technologies as well as employment for renewable technologies.

“We can get people while they are in college to say, ‘Yeah, hybrids are a little bit different, but different isn’t bad,’” he said. “Now all of a sudden we have this entire generation of auto mechanics who embrace things like bio-diesel and hybrids.”

Dean Folkers, deputy executive director for the Career Technical Education Consortium, said North Carolina is joining a national trend of community colleges increasing their focus on green technologies and technical education.

“There are a number of different initiatives that continue to permeate through the community college systems,” he said. “There are more energy efficient resources for students to be aware of.”

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