Writer: Liz Palmer
2 min read April 2022 — The higher education institutions of Raleigh-Durham are rising to the challenge of accommodating a growing economy. From private liberal arts schools and community college networks to nationally-ranked public institutions, here are some of the expansions and decisions being made by the Triangle’s universities and colleges to meet industry needs of the region.
North Carolina Community College System
Enrollment was up 2% this semester for community colleges in North Carolina compared to last fall, according to the N.C. Board of Community Colleges. “The surge shows the value of the Community College System,” Thomas Stith, president of North Carolina Community College System, said in a statement in February. But as general enrollments increase, the nursing shortage still plagues the state. One of the main concerns in a reportopens PDF file presented to the Board was that 34% of nurses currently working in North Carolina will resign this year. In response to the crisis, last week the Board decided to dedicate $976,356 from now through 2023 to retention and recruitment efforts.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
UNC-Chapel Hill announced this month that it is developing an innovation hub that will serve as the home for thinkers and entrepreneurs such as the Innovate Carolina team. The hub will attract entrepreneurs, corporations, nonprofits and more to collaborate with the university’s students and researchers to meet industry needs.
UNC-Chapel Hill has connections in the pharmaceutical sector and utilizes partnerships to best capture community needs and applications to health programs READDI is one example of recent partnership, an initiative born from the pandemic focused on preparing for future public health crises. The institution is experiencing growth in all things STEM-related to meet demand and was already planning on expanding its data science curriculum when Apple announced its decision to expand into the Triangle last spring. Since then, a data science minor was added to the university’s programming with further expansion plans in the pipeline
Central Carolina Community College
Last week Central Carolina Community College announced that the SBI Digitally Simplified Bioprocessing Fellowship is awarding the college with free, modern bioprocessing equipment in an initiative to best prepare students for careers post-graduation. “The bioindustrial manufacturing industry needs employees who are trained to use equipment like bioreactors and shake flasks,” John Moore, president of SBI said in a statement last month. “Our equipment, coupled with the Educational Modules, will give students the skills they need to succeed in the bioindustrial manufacturing workforce.”
The university’s president, J. Bradley Creed, discussed with Invest: last year the implementation of an engineering program that’s bringing more students in, holding concentrations in mechanical, electrical and chemical/pharmaceutical engineering. The School of Engineering now regularly hosts the North Carolina Robotics State Championship, a K-12 initiative that exposes children to STEM and encourages them to think-outside-the-box to solve problems. The 2022 competition was held earlier this month where 32 teams competed. The program inspires children to pursue careers in STEM, and multiple past competitors are currently studying engineering at Campbell University.
Johnston Community College
Johnston Community College’s BioBlend program in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) serves as an engineering and biotechnology curriculum to meet more specific industry needs. The NSF gifted an additional $635,012 to the program this month that will go toward expanding curriculum to a larger audience of students, furthering the university’s goal of making careers in STEM more accessible. More specifically, the grant will also open the door to curriculum development catered to students on the autism spectrum.
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