VALDOSTA -- Valdosta Technical College's Drafting Technology Department recently underwent a transformation, bringing it into the 21st century.

Tuesday afternoon, more than two dozen gathered to celebrate the "makeover" and the past, present, and future of the growing academic program.

Physically, Drafting Technology Department facilities received new ceilings, flooring, lighting, air conditioning, chairs, desks, and computers complete with updated software. The end result was a state-of-the-art learning environment with 22 Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) stations.

These enhancements were funded by a combination of state monies and a $5,000 grant from Trus Joist, a Weyerhaeuser business. Tom Booker, manager of the Lowndes County plant, was excited about helping the Drafting Technology Program make its dreams come true.

"It's a perfect fit between the drafting department and the structural design part of our business," he said. "We have the occasion to need this type of service and are willing to do anything we can do to ensure a well-trained workforce."

Valdosta Technical College also made significant improvements to the department's instructional side. Specifically, college officials created several new technical certificate of credit programs -- 3D Animation Specialist, Advanced CAD Technician, AUTOCAD Specialist, CAD Operator, Drafting Aide, Residential Drawing Technician, and Commercial Drawing Technician -- all under the umbrella of the Drafting Technology Department. These certificate programs vary in length from several weeks to one year.

"These are perfect for someone who wants to focus on a particular area or update their skills in a short amount of time," said Mike Kirkland, drafting technology coordinator. "Some of the classes within them overlap, so it's easy to earn more than one."

Drafting Program Department officials are also in the process of implementing a two-year associate's degree program. Kirkland said he already has a few students interested in this program, which requires an indepth study of both core curriculum -- English and mathematics -- and the ins and outs of drafting. He hopes to kick things off during the 2005 spring quarter.

The Drafting Technology Department's present diploma program, which takes between one and two years to complete and offers both the study of mechanical structures and architectural structures, will remain in effect.

"All these changes are in response to what's happening in the industry," Kirkland said. "Things are changing as far as the field of drafting is concerned. We want to ensure our students are prepared for the marketplace and equipped with a wide-range of talents. I am excited about the direction things are heading."

Prospective students can call (229) 333-2100 to schedule a tour.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call (229) 244-3400, ext. 255.

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