Powell revved up about Engineering Technology program

Dr. Powell Program Chair for Engineering Technology

Dr. Powell Program Chair for Engineering Technology, Photograph by Don Nelson, 2014

Engineer Tremaine Powell foresees an exciting future for the new Engineering Technology program at Athens Technical College and for the business community it serves.

“I think that we will be able to fill much-needed engineering tech positions in local and statewide industry,” said Dr. Powell, who began work as program chair for Engineering Technology in January 2013.  “I hope that outside industry will see that we have a competent and skilled engineering technology workforce coming out of the program, and that they will want to move or expand to the local area, knowing that they will be able to obtain the personnel they need to make their business succeed.”

Dr. Powell’s optimism and several other factors prompted him to join the college to direct the new Engineering Technology program that kicked off in the fall.

He also is enthusiastic about a February 19 open house and career fair the college will host to highlight the Engineering Technology program.

“We will offer an opportunity for potential students and community members to tour the Engineering Technology department and view the state-of-the-art equipment purchased through a federal grant to support the program,” Dr. Powell said. “Also, a career exploration event involving area companies will afford a chance for the employers to talk with community members about career opportunities and expectations.”

When Dr. Powell first saw the Engineering Technology program chair job posting, he felt confident that his background and experience would make him a good fit for overseeing the new program at Athens Technical College.

“I looked at the program description and felt that it was tailor-made for me,” said Dr. Powell, who for four years prior to joining the college worked as an environmental engineer with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s research facility in Athens.

Dr. Powell wanted to move from a research role in the engineering field to a more applied role, and to gain administrative experience in which he could make key decisions that would shape his work environment, he said.

He also liked the prospect of exploring other engineering practices, especially applied, hands-on engineering, and he has always wanted to teach.

“All of those areas were included in the job description, and with my diverse background of engineering, agriculture, nanotechnology, sensors, and environmental areas, I felt like I was the perfect person for the job,” he said.

Athens Technical College officials developed the Engineering Technology Program through a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor – Employment and Training Administration. The new Engineering Technology program is focusing on nanotechnology, environmental, electromechanical, and mechanical engineering pathways and last fall began offering several technical certificates and two associate degree programs — Engineering Science Technology, with a specialization in Environmental Engineering;  and Nanotechnology.  Twenty-five students are taking engineering courses this spring semester.

The college should begin offering the Mechanical Engineering associate degree program fall semester 2014, and planning continues for introducing the Electromechanical Engineering associate degree program in the future, Dr. Powell said.

In his role as chair of the program, Dr. Powell will focus mainly on nanotechnology, a study in which he uses his experiences as a postdoctoral researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and his more recent work as a postdoctoral research scientist at the EPA to develop the nanotechnology program at Athens Technical College.

Dr. Powell employs a teaching style that emphasizes student-centered learning and hands-on training by developing partnerships with local industry and collaborating with other Georgia colleges and universities. His current passions within engineering and nanotechnology are in the area of biomimetics.

Educationally, Dr. Powell earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from the University of Arizona, in Tucson, in 2008. He completed his master of science degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Pennsylvania State University in 2003, and he obtained his bachelor of science degree in Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee in 2001.

Dr. Powell and other staff members associated with the Engineering Technology program at the college decided to host the upcoming open house and career fair event to highlight the program during National Engineers Week, February 16-21. The February 19 open house and career fair will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center (Building H) on the Athens Campus. Area employers in engineering and related trades will be on hand to showcase their companies and discuss career expectations. Tours will be offered of the new Engineering Technology classrooms and equipment. Additionally, the college will host a recycling event by serving as a drop-off location for recycling materials such as computers and similar electronics. The drop point will be at Building R, across U.S. Highway 29 North from the main college entrance.

For more information, call Robin Fay at (706) 227-5460 or email her at rfay@athenstech.edu.