(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Dec. 20, 2018) - - - At first glance, Jeffrey Perez is an ordinary Columbia State Community College student – he goes to class, works hard alongside his peers and is striving to earn an associate degree. However, what sets him apart from his peers is that he has already earned a Technical Certificate in Engineering Systems Technology while in high school.
Perez, a Fairview native, took advantage of Columbia State’s partnership with Fairview High School in order to earn dual-credit. He was one of five students, including Zachary Cox, Gabriel Dasilva, Corbin Hughes and Brandon Smith, that graduated in spring 2018 with a high school diploma and an EST certificate.
“These students took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to gain an edge in higher education and the workforce while simultaneously completing high school and a technical certificate,” said Dr. Dearl Lampley, Columbia State vice president for Williamson Campus and External Services. “I really can't say enough about the great collaboration we have enjoyed with Williamson County Schools during this entire process. We look forward to many more graduates from this program.”
“There were challenges, but it was worth it,” Perez said. “I had a preview of what college would be like and I felt prepared walking in this semester. I am ahead of most of my peers in the program and it’s nice not only working at my own pace, but also helping other students with the curriculum.”
Perez explained that the dual-enrollment program had several different components including safety, electrical, mechanical power transmission, fluid power systems, and more, and that each required a different skill set. Each of these components laid a foundation for what he would soon study in college as he works toward his Associate of Applied Science Degree in EST.
The program, designed to close the technology skills gap in Tennessee, was supported by Rep. Sam Whitson who sponsored the legislation that provided $300,000 state dollars in tuition assistance to close the gap between the full cost of tuition and the funds provided by the Dual Enrollment Grant.
EST is a challenging program that is heavily centered around equipment-based learning.
“My favorite part of the program was the hands-on stuff,” Perez said. “I’m a hands-on person and I was able to do things over and over until I did it right – I think this program is for everyone, but if you like to solve problems and work with your hands this is definitely for you.”
After learning how to work with the machinery in high school, he is now building on that foundational knowledge with the machines at the Northfield training location.
“Perez is a great student and put in a lot of effort to do well in the program at Fairview,” said Mehran Mostajir, Columbia State program director and instructor of EST. “I am proud of him and all of the students who graduated from the first class produced by the dual-credit program.”
The Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Systems Technology is a two-year degree program designed to prepare graduates for many different careers related to manufacturing with an emphasis on technology, critical thinking, and problem solving. Students take courses in the basic fundamentals of engineering technology and move to very advanced applications including robotics. To learn more about the EST program, visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/EST or contact Mehran Mostajir at 931.540.2711 or mmostajir@ColumbiaState.edu.
Photo Caption: Jeffery Perez.