Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) has received a $7.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to move forward with the creation of the EARTh Center — a new Environmental and Natural Resources Technology (EARTh) Center, a nationwide initiative to equip the next generation of environmental technicians.
The new center will be one of only a handful of NSF centers across the nation, according to an EICC release Wednesday. It builds off of EICC’s prior Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), one of the first original NSF Advanced Technology Education centers.
Environmental technology careers apply the principles of math, science, technology, engineering, communication, economics and law to ensure the health and safety of workers, communities and protection of the environment. The industry encompasses the management and conservation of natural resources, regulatory compliance and sustainability.
Jobs in the environmental technology field include emergency preparedness, air pollution, water and wastewater management, regulatory compliance, energy, sustainability and natural resources and conservation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that many careers in this sector will experience faster than average growth in the next 10 years.
“The goal of the EARTh Center is to increase the number of students equipped with critical knowledge and skills to meet the demands of an ever evolving, converging and emerging environmental technology workforce,” says Ellen Bluth, Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development at EICC.
This exciting initiative aims to provide state-of-the-art research, curriculum and educational experiences for students around the country and here in our community, the release said.
Over the next five years, the EARTh Center will collaborate with industries including government and public agencies, professional organizations, two-year and four-year colleges, as well as high schools from across the country, to create training for environmental technology careers and provide professional development opportunities for educators.
EICC, in conjunction with the National Partnership for Environmental Technology Education (PETE) and the Nahant Marsh Educational Center (NMEC), will drive this initiative. A wide variety of experts from community colleges, universities, and industry from across the United States will also serve on the leadership team, directly reflecting the broad reach of the EARTh Center.
The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950. With an annual budget of $8.5 billion (FY 2021), the NSF supports approximately 27 percent of the total federal budget for basic research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities.