USDA awards grants to S. Ga. Tech

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, September 12, 2018

AMERICUS — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Agency awarded two Rural Business Enterprise (RBEG) grants to South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) and the SGTC Foundation totaling nearly $150,000 recently. The USDA grants will be utilized to implement a new Commercial Truck Driving Class B and Class C training program as well as offer a drone repair training certificate for Fall Semester.
“South Georgia Technical College is very pleased to have been awarded these competitive grants from the USDA,” said SGTC President John Watford, Ed.D. “This is a tremendous opportunity for South Georgia Tech to offer new programs and provide valuable training for students interested in pursuing a career as a Class B or Class C truck driver or drone repair technician.”
Members of the SGTC Foundation board of trustees accepted the USDA grants on behalf of the SGTC Foundation and pledged to provide additional financial support to purchase a new crew cab truck with a stake body as well as provide additional support for the drone repair technician program.
SGTC and the SGTC Foundation submitted a $99,999 USDA grant to purchase a crew cab truck and body to begin the new Commercial Truck Driving Class B and Class C training program. The combined cost of the vehicle and trailer is estimated at $125,000. This additional funding will be raised as part of the Foundation’s 2018 TechForce annual fundraising drive.
A full Commercial Truck Driver’s license is required to drive a full-sized 18-wheeler and takes approximately eight weeks to obtain. But Class B and Class C Commercial Licenses can be completed in as little as two to four weeks. These licenses are utilized by independent owners to operate smaller delivery trucks, small moving vans, dump trucks, propane trucks, or utility trucks for companies such as Georgia Power, EMC, Media Com, UPS, Fed EX, and more.
SGTC will be the first technical college in the state to initiate the new Class B and Class C CDL training program. This initiative has the potential to create at least 15 new jobs for small emerging businesses as well as save jobs for individuals who are currently working but need this certification for insurance purposes to retain employment.
In addition to the commercial truck driving program offering, SGTC received grant funds to purchase equipment for a new unmanned aerial vehicle or drone repair certificate which will be offered as an additional certification in the electronics and avionics technology programs. The USDA provided $46,481.92 for the college to purchase drones and equipment to build and repair drones for the electronics and avionics technology programs.
Drone repair technology is an emerging field that is growing in demand for qualified technicians. With the number of commercial drones expected to soar into the millions in the next few years, operators whose unmanned aircraft malfunction or crash will be looking for places to get them repaired. Some repair shops authorized by manufacturers to fix smaller drones are already having trouble keeping up with demand. That type of demand spells opportunity for repair shops keen to diversify.
It also provides entrepreneurial opportunities for budding drone mechanics who wish to start lucrative careers repairing commercial drones without having to pay for a four-year college degree. Drone repair technicians will use their knowledge of electronics, machinery, and engineering to repair drones. Drones are usually synced with smartphones, so drone repair technicians must also be knowledgeable about repairing wireless devices and systems. This program is expected to train five to 10 individuals for this new field annually.