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New program will train civil engineers

There is an industry need for more civil engineering technicians. Dakota County Technical College is making plans to meet that need.

Starting in the fall of 2009 the school, in partnership with Hennepin Technical College, will offer an applied associates of science degree in Civil Engineering Technology.

"Industry came to us saying we have a need and we have fulfilled that," said Mike Opp, DCTC dean of transportation and technical careers.

Opp said that the CET program will be a diverse program that will prepare students for the workforce.

Civil engineering technicians are involved in all areas of the construction industry including planning and design, management and the construction process. Those graduating with degrees will be able to get jobs with consulting companies, construction companies and government agencies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics civil engineering technicians earn a median salary of $40,560. Top earners make up to $63,000 a year. In the seven county metro area technicians make an average wage of $25.99 an hour according to

Due to a shortage of technicians both schools were prompted by industry leaders in the public and private sectors to offer programs.

"Our CET program is designed to fill a gap that is growing larger by the year," Opp said.

After learning that both DCTC and Hennepin Tech were considering adding programs, Opp said the two institutions decided to team up.

"I think by working together we have created one strong, solid program," said Opp.

To create the curriculum the schools consulted 25 area companies and municipalities. In addition, Opp said they looked at other similar programs from around the state.

"We found some good things and tweaked it to meet our needs" said Opp.

Opp said there will be a need for technicians in the future as president-elect Barack Obama's recovery plan calls for public works projects that will create a number of jobs.

Besides industry calling for the program Opp said there has been a push by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to offer more science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees. He said this program fits in with an overall vision to expand in that area.

"I think this is a good step in that direction," said Opp.

Students have indicated they are interested in pursuing a CET degree as well. Opp said when the two schools conducted a survey of current students 81 percent supported the idea of adding the program. In addition he said they had a number of students indicate they would be interested in registering for the program.

In the fall of 2009 Hennepin Tech will begin to offer courses at its Eden Prairie campus. Courses will begin at DCTC in 2010. Each year after that a program will start at one of the schools, alternating every other year.

Opp said by partnering with Hennepin Tech the two schools will be able to offer courses to more students across the metro.

For more information on the program visit the DCTC web site at