February 13, 2017
CRANE, Ind. -- Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) has launched a Technician-to-Engineer degree program in partnership with the University of Southern Indiana (USI). The program is designed to allow students with some previous technical college education – in most cases with an associate or bachelor’s degree in a technology field – to earn their bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering.
The first class – a Pre-Calculus course worth five credit hours – met for the first time on January 9 at WestGate Academy Conferencing and Training Center. There are a total of 21 students currently enrolled in the program.
The current course is being taught via distance learning, with the instructor teaching through a live broadcast from the USI campus in Evansville using interactive communication at WestGate Academy. Even though all of the students enrolled in the first class work at NSWC Crane, the program is not exclusively for NSWC Crane employees. The classes are open to employees from other tenants of the base, area support contractors, and the general public.
“I have always had a passion for computers, electronics and technology, so when I saw such a great opportunity to get an engineering degree and further my education in a field I’m interested in, I couldn’t pass it up,” said Paul Hart, an NSWC Crane employee in the Flight Systems Division currently enrolled in the program.
Tanner Bailey, an engineering technician at NSWC Crane, is among the students in the program’s first course. Bailey was a Pathways intern at Crane while he earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from IUPUI. When he first heard about the Technician-to-Engineer Degree Program last year from an engineer at his branch, he jumped at the opportunity.
“The engineers I work with really encouraged me to take part in this program,” Bailey said. “They all told me I would be in a much better position if I was an engineer, and that my future will be much brighter if I earn an engineering degree through this program.”
NSWC Crane and USI have both an Educational Partnership Agreement (EPA) and a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA), which allows them to partner on educational programs like the Technician-to-Engineer Degree Program, as well as STEM efforts, technology transfer (T2) and commercialization collaboration.
The plan for the Technician-to-Engineer Degree Program is for students to take two to three classes each semester (fall, spring and summer) while still working full-time. Most classes will meet at WestGate Academy and will be taught by either distance learning technology or live in-person instruction. It will take an estimated 4-5 years for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, depending on their number of transferable college credits.
“My goal is to be a well-balanced engineer by the end of this program,” Bailey said. “Upon graduation, I feel that I will be able to make a much stronger contribution to my branch and the Department of Defense.”
Added Hart: “At the end of the program, I hope to have strengthened my knowledge and skill set to allow me to be a more flexible and valuable asset. I believe this program will help me take on bigger roles, more responsibilities, and ultimately contribute more to my organization.”
The tentative list of course offerings for the summer semester includes Calculus I and Digital Logic. The program plans to offer Chemistry I, Fundamentals of Engineering, and Fundamentals of Computer Programming in the fall semester.
“The objectives for this program are to provide our employees with education opportunities for personal growth and skill development, while at the same time increasing our organization’s technical capabilities and growing our engineering workforce,” said Scott Karcher, NSWC Crane program coordinator. “In addition, we hope this program will serve as a model for more postsecondary educational offerings in this region.”
NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with focus areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s warfighter.