ECU to begin offering tech classes at MCAS Cherry Point

East Carolina University and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point have joined forces to help with educational opportunities for military and Department of Defense personnel on the base.

ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers signs a memorandum of understanding that signifies a partnership with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point that will allow university courses to be taught face-to-face on the base. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Bertram)

Chancellor Philip Rogers and Col. Mikel Huber, commanding officer at Cherry Point, signed a memorandum of understanding during a base ceremony on Friday that clears the way for the face-to-face instruction of ECU industrial technology, and distribution and logistics courses on the base.

“We are excited to offer the Bachelor of Science in industrial distribution and logistics and the B.S. in industrial technology degree programs at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point,” Rogers said. “Designed to accommodate working professionals and the military, these degree programs offer maximum flexibility for students to be enrolled in academic programs while maintaining their personal and professional obligations. This agreement is fully aligned with our mission and is an important step in our commitment to strengthen ties with the Marine Corps in the region.”

The classes will be available to active-duty personnel, reservists, eligible retired military personnel and Department of Defense employees.

“I’m glad we have the chance to put this in writing and let our community know of the emerging educational opportunities that are available here,” Huber said.

He said the 80-year-old air station is in a period of transformation in preparation for the new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, which includes a large upgrade in infrastructure.

“I feel like the timing is good to bring these programs here and offer tremendous educational opportunities to our personnel and families,” he said.

Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, said ECU would staff an office in Cherry Point’s Jerry Marvel Training and Education building and may be able to offer some eight-week block classes as early as the middle of the spring semester.

“We’re going to be offering some of the foundational courses for these programs face-to-face,” he said. “As students progress and gain confidence and potentially move on if they are transitioning out of the military or being transferred, they’ll be able to continue those degree programs online wherever they are.”

Ploehn said the agreement to support military personnel in their educational goals reinforces ECU’s motto of servire, to serve.

“We need to serve this population, and that’s our mission. It’s fundamentally what we’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “We want to be there for them, to help coach them like we coach our athletes. In partnership with the Cherry Point staff and the military commands, we want to help coach these students on a pathway toward more advanced credentials that will help them be successful when they transition out of the military.”

Chancellor Philip Rogers accepts the keys for ECU’s new office space at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. (Contributed photo)

Ploehn said the industrial technology as well as the distribution and logistics programs can help military personnel and defense department employees enhance their current careers or help them transition to jobs in the growing pharmaceutical, manufacturing, boat building and aviation sectors in eastern North Carolina.

“These degree programs and others that we would like to bring in the future are great programs and life-changing programs for those who complete them,” Ploehn said. “They are able to have great job opportunities and high-paying job opportunities no matter where they are. … There is a lot of industry growth going on in North Carolina and specifically eastern North Carolina, and we need the skilled workforce to help power that engine. It’s a winning situation for everyone involved. We can meet students where they are and help them get on that pathway.”

Teresa Allen, education services officer at Cherry Point, sees a large benefit to having ECU join other universities offering classes on the base.

“Partnerships with accredited educational institutions create strategic investments in developing our service members both personally and professionally while enhancing our workforce,” she said.

Offered through ECU’s Department of Technology Systems, the industrial technology program prepares professionals for roles that involve the management, operation and maintenance of complex technological systems through the development of technical, business and communication skills. The program offers eight concentrations, six of which can be completed entirely online. Concentrations include information and computer technology, industrial supervision, manufacturing systems, distribution and logistics, bioprocess manufacturing, health information technologies, architectural technology and mechanical technology.

The BSIT program is a degree completion curriculum designed for students who have been awarded a qualified Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in an industrial or technical related field.

Industrial distribution and logistics encompasses all the elements and transportation methods of the supply chain, from raw materials to the final customer. Distribution and logistics managers coordinate the movement of goods, services and information throughout the world. ECU’s program provides the study of a variety of functions performed by distributors such as supply chain management, warehousing, transportation, industrial sales, inventory management, strategic pricing and purchasing.

Ploehn said many people worked many hours to make the agreement happen, including Dr. Tijjani (TJ) Mohammed, chair of the Department of Technology Systems; Keith Wheeler, executive director of ECU’s Office of National Security and Industry Initiatives; Jeff Netznik, associate director for military outreach, academic outreach and distance education; Amy Frank, instructor and director of community college and military outreach for the Department of Technology Systems; Grant Hayes, interim provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs; Allen Guidry, assistant dean of planning and global education; and staff in Cherry Point’s education services office as well as base leadership.

Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Bertram from Cherry Point’s Communication, Strategy and Operations section contributed to this story.

ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers, left, and Col. Mikel Huber, commanding officer at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, shake hands after signing an agreement that will allow university courses to be taught on the base. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob Bertram)