Ga. technical college receives USDA grant for IT program

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upgrade the wireless network equipment for its information technology training program, Coastal Pines Technical College student Deidre Durance works on wireless network equipment in 2012. A USDA grant will help the school upgrade its technology. (Credit: Coastal Pines Technical College)

The IT training program at a Georgia technical college will receive a nearly $94,000 infusion from the Agriculture Department to upgrade its wireless network equipment, according to an agency release Tuesday.

Eddie Murray, a computer information systems instructor for Coastal Pines Technical College who helped prepare the grant proposal, said there’s a particular demand for workers with IT skills in southeast Georgia, the region the public school serves.

“We’re slowly getting to the technology level that our larger cities in our state – Atlanta, Macon – are starting to go towards,” he said. “And so, there’s a giant need now for people who are technically savvy.”

Sponsored by Cisco Systems Inc., the program is offered as a specialization track for an associate’s degree, a diploma or a technical certificate. It prepares students to work as network technicians, network troubleshooters and systems administrators — though, most of the students who enroll in the program have no IT experience coming in.

“They expect the students to come in green as a gourd,” said Murray, who also graduated from the program.

According to the state’s Department of Labor, the southern Georgia regional unemployment rate stood at just over 9 percent in August.

The grant comes through the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant program, which aims to cultivate opportunities for small and emerging businesses and support adult education in rural areas.

Other grantees include an eastern Missouri group trying to buy a greenhouse, an Iowa program providing mentoring and training to farm businesses, and an organization in Montana that offers technical assistance to small businesses in rural Native American communities.

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Coastal Pines Technical College, Department of Agriculture (USDA), Eddie Murray
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