Connecting with HOUSTON
Macon State College's IT Degree Program in
Warner Robins Going Strong
Terry Zimmerman enjoys his job repairing and installing computers
for a government contractor at Robins Air Force Base. For better job
security and to keep moving ahead in his field, he decided to finish
Macon State students (left to right)
Scott Cox, Taylor Alderman and Terry Zimmerman are pursuing
their Bachelor of Science degrees in IT at the Warner Robins
The government is getting more and more restrictive as far
as who it hires, said Zimmerman, 50, a retired Air Force master
sergeant, so hopefully when I get my degree it will make me
more marketable, not only for the future but within the company
I work for now.
Pursuit of his goal led Zimmerman to Macon States Warner
Robins Center, where he is taking full advantage of the colleges
decision last year to offer a four-year information technology degree
in Houston County. A networking major, Zimmerman said he would have
been willing to commute to Macon for all of his classes, but having
the IT program at the WRC makes his life much easier.
I live south of Warner Robins in Bonaire, so I dont
have that long drive after working a full day, he said. Instead
I have more time to relax or study before I go to class.
A little more than a year after Macon State introduced the four-year
IT degree in Houston County, students like Zimmerman are flocking
to the program. Overall enrollment at the WRC jumped 49 percent
between summer 2000, when the first IT classes were offered and
courses added, and the same term this year.
Dr. Bill Elieson, Macon States IT division chair, said information
technology classes at the WRC fill up within 48 hours of the registration
The potential for the IT programs growth in Houston
County is very good, Elieson said. Once we get more
classroom space, I think well actually see greater growth
there than in Macon, mostly because of Robins Air Force Base and
the high-tech industries it attracts.
Houston County Expansion
W a n t
t o k n o w m o r e ?
Call the Warner Robins Center at
(478) 929-6700 to learn about Macon State's IT degree program
in Houston County.
| The Thomas School on Watson Boulevard
would be renovated and expanded for the Warner Robins Center
under the Board of Regents' proposal.
Expanding Macon States academic programs in Houston County,
especially the IT degree, is one of President David A. Bells
top prioritiesand the community strongly supports the colleges
increased presence. In late September, Warner Robins City Council
set aside $762,000 to buy the historic Thomas School on Watson Boulevard
and donate it to the University System of Georgias Board of
Regents. As part of its fiscal 2003 proposed budget, the Regents
approved $5 million to renovate the original building and construct
an additional 25,000-square-foot instructional facility on the site.
If Gov. Roy Barnes and the Georgia Legislature approve the Regents
proposal, Macon State would move the Warner Robins Center from its
current leased facility on Osigian Boulevard to the Thomas School
site, more than tripling instruc-tional space in the process.
This is an enormous opportunity and responsibility for Macon
State to expand access to higher education for a community that
has long supported us, Bell said. The Chamber of Commerce
in Warner Robins was the first organization to take a formal stand
advocating four-year status for Macon State College. The community
needs and deserves expanded access to higher education, and with
the help of the Regents, were going provide that access.
Bell also noted that the Thomas School site is only half a mile
from the main gate of Robins, the largest industrial complex
There are thousands of people whose jobs depend on the base,
directly or indirectly, and they need to be able to constantly upgrade
their skills or learn new skills, Bell said. Weve
had a long association with the base through the Robins Resident
Center, and this expansion will allow us to take that relationship
to a new level.
Macon State has also partnered with the Warner Robins-Houston County
Library on Watson Boulevardnext door to the Thomas Schoolto
expand services to WRC students. Pat Borck, MSCs library services
director, said that while some details remain to be worked out,
the general plan is for Macon State to provide books, periodicals
and computers that support the colleges programs for WRC students
to use at the public library. Through the partnership, the Warner
Robins library will have access to Macon States online periodicals
and other databases. The arrangement also means that WRC students
will have weekend access to
library services without traveling to the Macon campus.
IT majors at the Warner Robins Center strongly support Macon States
plans to expand in Houston County. They are a diverse group, ranging
from traditional-aged students to working adults. Many, of course,
have some connection to RAFB. Taylor Alderman moved to Warner Robins
last year when the Air Force transferred her husband, Van Alderman.
The couple and their daughter had been stationed in Aviano, Italy,
where Taylor Alderman began working on an IT degree. Shortly after
relocating, Alderman heard a radio ad promoting the IT degree at
the Warner Robins Center.
I was excited to find out I could keep working toward my
degree and that it would be so convenient, said Alderman,
a systems analysis major. Ive been very happy with the
quality of instruction at the WRC. The equipment in the computer
lab is state-of-the-art.
Scott Cox, 35, an industrial engineer living in Warner Robins, said
the convenience of the WRC information technology program helped
motivate him to attempt a career change. He is focusing on both
programming and database administration to give him as much job
flexibility as possible.
While I have to go the Macon campus for an occasional class,
the time I save by being able to complete most of my classes at
the WRC makes life a lot easier, Cox said. If I had
to go to Macon all the time, my kids might forget what I look like.
This allows me to have a little extra family time and avoid the
expense of driving back and forth to Macon.
Susan Lalonde, 39, isnt working outside the home right now,
but the prospect of driving back and forth between Warner Robins
and Macon in her 16-year-old car was not appealing.
So I was going to stop with my associates degree, and
then I heard about the IT program in Warner Robins, said Lalonde,
who is considering a systems analysis major. Im very
glad to have an opportunity to finish my bachelors degree
without a lot of commuting.