Archived Story

Lake Michigan College to launch bachelor’s degree program

Published 9:32am Thursday, May 22, 2014

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Lake Michigan College is now a baccalaureate degree-granting institution. The Higher Learning Commission has approved the College’s request to offer the Bachelor of Applied Science in Energy Production and Distribution Management.

The bachelor’s degree program focuses on teaching industry-specific business practices, operations management methods, leadership and communication fundamentals and regulatory and quality control issues. This builds upon the technical training students receive in the college’s Energy Production Technology associate degree program.

With HLC accreditation in place, students may now enroll in the program that will begin this fall.

“This is a historic day for Lake Michigan College and for our region,” said LMC President Dr. Robert Harrison. “Not only is this the first bachelor’s degree we have ever offered, but this is also the first bachelor’s degree offered by any college or university in the state of Michigan specifically focused on meeting the workforce training needs of the energy production and distribution industry.”

LMC is only the second of Michigan’s 28 community colleges to offer a baccalaureate-level program. The passing of House Bill 4496 in December 2012 gave Michigan community colleges authorization for the first time to offer bachelor degrees. That legislation now allows community colleges to confer four-year degrees in energy production, cement technology, maritime technology and culinary arts.

Local House Representatives Al Pscholka, Aric Nesbitt and Bob Genetski, along with former House Representative Sharon Tyler, were among those who introduced and championed the bill in the State House. John Proos on the senate side voted in favor of passing the legislation.

“We thank our legislators for their leadership and belief in the power of community colleges. Their understanding of our ability to move the state’s economy forward through high-quality, responsive workforce training means residents now have increased access to the education needed to be part of the energy industry,” Harrison stated.

The college developed the Bachelor of Applied Science in Energy Production and Distribution Management degree to meet the anticipated workforce needs of the industry.

The Center for Energy Workforce Development estimates that nearly 55 percent of current energy professionals may retire or leave the industry over the next 10 years. This gap will affect all levels of operations including managerial positions.

With guidance from Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant, Palisades Nuclear Plant, as well as Michigan-based Consumers Energy, the College has created a program that specializes in the knowledge and technical skills managers need to excel in the industry.

“We appreciate our partnership with Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant, Palisades Nuclear Plant and Consumers Energy in making this groundbreaking degree possible,” Harrison said. “Students win by having access to high-skilled job training in a promising industry. Our energy partners win by having a greater talent pool from which to draw. Our state and country win by having the professionals in place to meet the growing demand for energy.”

Graduates will earn credentials necessary for jobs including power plant operator, shift leader, project manager, maintenance supervisor, production manager and team leader.

The broad scope of bachelor degree instruction is applicable to power generation and distribution plant operations in fossil fuel, nuclear, and alternative energy sources. Program graduates will also have the background to enter other areas such as power plant construction, utility company sales and management, energy regulatory agencies, and energy distribution organizations.

The baccalaureate degree is a natural fit for the College in light of its experience with the Energy Production Technology associate degree program introduced in 2008. The College developed the associate degree program with guidance from Cook Nuclear Plant and Palisades Nuclear Plant to prepare students with entry-level technical skills. To date, more than 100 students have graduated from the associate degree program.

Individuals with an associate degree in Energy Production Technology from LMC or from a comparable program at another college are eligible to begin junior level coursework. The College also awards credit for prior experiential learning gained through industry employment and military service. Individuals with those backgrounds can work with an LMC advisor to determine the amount of eligible credit that will be awarded.

Those interested in learning more about the Energy Production and Distribution programs at Lake Michigan College can contact David Blumberg at (269) 926-2124.

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