Sunday, June 4, 2023

Gaming and simulations among four programs CFCC hopes to add by fall

Electrical equipment went missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence at Cape Fear Community College. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
Cape Fear Community College will offer a Medical Laboratory Technology program at its downtown Wilmington campus beginning this fall. (Port City Daily/file)

WILMINGTON — Cape Fear Community College is expanding its curriculum into high-demand fields.

The community college’s board of trustees unanimously approved a slate of four new programs the college will develop over the next few months. They include simulation and game development, geomatics technology, human services technology and human services technology with a focus on mental health.

READ MORE: CFCC responds to local need, launches medical lab tech program

CFCC spokesperson Chrstina Hallingse said how the college identifies which programs to add varies. In some cases, local employers contact the college and stress demand for workers, which was the reason the college wants to add the geomatics program

In other cases, the college looks at employment data, specifically state and national trends that point to high demand. The decision to add a gaming program was data-driven. 

Software development, quality assurance analysis and software testing are all covered in the simulation and gaming program as a group. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that field is expected to grow by 25% in the next 10 years, adding another 411,400 jobs total in those fields. The median pay is $109,020.

Applications for new programs are due to the state community college board March 1, and the college will have an answer from the board on moving ahead by April. The goal is to start offering all the programs by the time fall classes begin in August.

The CFCC Board of Trustees had to approve brief text descriptions during its Thursday meeting as the first step to adding the programs. 

“Once we get board approval, we start building what we call a program of study, and that’s the outline for the courses,” Brandon Guthrie, vice president for academic affairs, told Port City Daily. “We get a template from the system office, and generally it will include at least 15 hours of general education.”

The simulation and game development program will feature classes on creative arts, audio and video technology, creating writing, programming, 3D modeling and management. The curriculum is expected to include hands-on training with software and intended to qualify graduates for any number of roles in both the video game industry, health care, education, corporate training and government.

Geomatics will prepare students to work in planning roles for tracts of land, including surveying, mapping, GPS and geographical information systems. The program should prepare grads to become registered land surveyors in the state.

Technology services will prepare students for entry-level positions in agencies that provide “social, community and educational services,” per the description text. Examples of fields graduates could work in are mental health, child care, family and social services, rehabilitation, corrections and education agencies. 

The mental health variation of the program focuses on employment in treatment centers. The HST program is also intended for students who want to transfer and earn a four-year degree from a college or university.

Guthrie said the state community college board requires certain classes for each program. For simulation and gaming, for example, there are 12 hours split between four courses covering design and programming.

“And then we get to pick from our existing coursework what we can put in there,” he said. “We’ll pick from things we think are pertinent to our local learners.”

The college will start all the programs by offering one section of the required courses, enough for about 16 students. The college will then gauge the programs  each semester.

“We’ll scale up as fast as we can to meet that demand,” Guthrie said.

Many community colleges across the state already offer simulation and gaming programs, though the size and scope of the programs vary. Neighboring Brunswick Community College offers a 12-hour certificate program, for example. 

Wayne Community College, in Goldsboro, meanwhile, offers a mix of 10 degrees, diplomas and certificates in the field ranging from concentrations on animation to mobile game development.

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