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New, In-Demand Program at STC

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STC, for the 19th consecutive year, was recently awarded with a GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its 2021 fiscal year Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. STC Image
STC, for the 19th consecutive year, was recently awarded with a GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its 2021 fiscal year Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. STC Image

Texas Border Business

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By Amanda Sotelo

Surveying and Geospatial Technology is a career with a demand on the rise, and a new program at South Texas College to provide the training, certifications and degree needed for a success in the field.

The program, set to open this month, will be the only one of its kind offered in the Rio Grande Valley, with the only other closest program being 313 miles away, and comes as a response to industry partners’ requests for more highly trained surveyors and geospatial technicians.

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“This program has been a at least two years in the making,” said STC Architectural and Engineering Design Technology (AEDT) and Associate Professor Laura Salas. “There was a lot of research that went into ensuring that this program would be viable and that our graduates would be afforded a positive career outlook, and what we found is that there’s a huge interest and a growing demand.”

Development for the program that will be open to new and experienced students in the field with a desire to upskill, began in 2020 and to see it become a reality is a dream come true for Salas’ team, including Margarita Vanguelova, STC AEDT associate professor and newly appointed Surveying and Geospatial Technology program coordinator.

“We’re so excited to finally see this program come to fruition,” said Vanguelova. “This comes from the endless support we have received from STC administration and the Board of Trustees. There has been great encouragement to see this dream realized and we’re ready to fill a skills gap.”

The program will offer a certificate and associate degree with a pathway that will qualify graduates to take the Survey in Training certifying exam which allows a graduate time to obtain additional licenses and/or experience in the field as they move toward a licensure as a Registered Professional Land Surveyor.

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“This is a long-standing profession that can lead to high-paying jobs, advancement in the field and even business ownership,” said Salas. “So, to graduate from our program and to obtain a certificate can open many doors of opportunity. This program is going to fuel success for many.”

Students who enroll in the Surveying and Geospatial Technology program can expect their two-semester to five-semester training to include introduction to surveying, surveying – legal principles, engineering design surveying and mapping, in addition to basic computer-aided drafting and computer-aided mapping.

The associate degree pathway also includes a cooperative education course, which will place students in the workforce to provide real-world learning and experience.

“By the time our students graduate, they will be ready to hit the ground running,” said Salas. “This is important to meeting industry demand, especially with an aging workforce that’s near retirement. The more skilled surveyors we can provide, the better. We have industry partners already asking for them.”

Graduates from this program can expect to find employment as surveying technicians who can work for firms that provide engineering, surveying and mapping services, including construction, land development and water supply companies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage nationally for a surveying technician in 2021 was $46,000, depending on location, and employment is expected to grow 4% over the course of the next few years, which is above average for all occupations with projected 7,800 openings.

“Our students will be learning the latest technologies and advancements in the field of surveying,” said Vanguelova. “We’re giving them space they need to grow, and we’re excited to see their success and the success of our program. We can’t wait to see how this program is going to add value to many lives.”

For more information on STC’s new Surveying and Geospatial Technology program, call 956-872-6228 or 956-872-6178.

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