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Northern Community Colleges Researching Possibility Of Adding Applied Science Degrees

Catherine Wheeler
Wyoming Public Media

The Northern Wyoming Community College District is in the process of gathering data to get a sense of community and student needs as it considers adding Bachelors of Applied Science degrees.

This comes after legislators passed a bill that allows community colleges to offer the degrees.

Bachelor's of Applied Science degrees include welding, machining and construction programs. The district currently offers associates degrees in applied sciences and some certificates in these programs. The degrees could be available, depending on the program, at Sheridan College, Gillette College, and Sheridan College in Johnson County.

Estella Castillo-Garrison, vice president of academic affairs, said they are currently gathering information.

"This month, the month of April, we're in a data collection mode. We're doing surveys and focus groups with our partners in the community in terms of workforce and then as well as our students," she said. "So it's kind of a two-prong approach with the different populations to gear up and point us in the right direction."

Castillo-Garrison said the district is working with leaders in the professional industries to see what kinds of elements they think would make students successful.

The bachelor's degrees will allow students in applied science programs to gain more management skills, Castillo-Garrison said.

"What we find is that students will go right into the workforce, which is what they are meant to be, but then they want to go ahead and raise their education and develop additional skills to kind of take that next step at their jobs. So this will provide that pathway," she said.

In addition to helping students, Castillo-Garrison said this addition can help provide more workers to businesses and industries in the area.

"These programs will really help filling those needs," she said.

The district will begin analyzing the data they gather next month.

Castillo-Garrison said if all goes to plan the district plans to offer the degrees for the 2020-2021 school year.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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