Clackamas Community College Lands $285K Water and Environmental Technology Grant

Clackamas Community has been awarded a highly competitive and prestigious National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education grant for the water and environmental technology education for rural small water systems.

The $285,489 grant will be used to develop online courses for the college’s Water and Environmental Technology (WET) program. These courses will help meet the growing demand for rural water technicians who have the knowledge and skills required by a modernizing industry, and will also help existing technicians to grow and expand their skills.

Clean water is uniquely crucial to promote and increase educational and economic prosperity in local, regional, national and even international communities. A unique set of skills and training is necessary to efficiently produce enough high-quality potable water to meet the demands of an ever-increasing population.

One population that is experiencing difficulties meeting these needs includes rural small water systems, which make up 97 percent of public water systems.

“Today, the rural experienced water industry workforce is facing rising retirement, a need for continual upgrading of knowledge and skills as new technologies are introduced, and the chronic issues related to access to education and training for rural residents,” said James Nurmi, Ph.D., instructor for the CCC WET program. “This project will address these gaps by providing online education that can reach rural technicians.”

Clackamas Community College’s WET program prepares students for in-demand jobs in the water industry, including water and wastewater treatment, distribution and collections as well as backflow testing and cross connection specialist opportunities.

The college offers a one-year certificate, a less than one-year high purity water certificate and a two-year Associate of Applied Science Degree in Water and Environmental Technology.

The rural small water system classes will cover topics needed to ensure the proper installation, inspection, maintenance, repair, management and operation of successful small public water systems.

The online courses will focus on industry requirements for advanced knowledge and skills that go beyond what is currently offered in the college’s WET program, including include video presentations, technical documents and virtual reality-driven field experiences.

This grant will make it possible to supplement six traditional courses and offer new online versions, in keeping with the Clackamas’ plans for making instruction more accessible through online education.

The program will serve as a model for future programs at Clackamas Community College and at other institutes interested in reaching rural areas of the country.

For more information about Clackamas Community College’s WET program, visit www.clackamas.edu/WET.

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