New Construction Zone

Civil Engineering Tech gets the right of way

Starting fall semester 2009, Dakota County Technical College will offer Civil Engineering Technology (CET) in partnership with Hennepin Technical College. The new program will help offset a growing shortage of civil engineering technicians in Minnesota and the nation at a time when constructing and modernizing infrastructure becomes increasingly paramount.

“Our CET program is designed to fill a gap that is growing larger by the year,” said Mike Opp, DCTC dean of transportation and technical careers. “Based on Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development projections alone, if every college providing civil tech graduates did so at a full enrollment, the state’s supply would fall far short of an estimated demand for nearly 1,000 new technicians between now and 2014.”

The CET program at DCTC gives students the building blocks to land fast-forward careers as civil engineering technicians, or civil techs. Working in a diverse field with fantastic employment opportunities statewide, nationwide and internationally, graduates will be heavy into all aspects of the construction process, including surveying, estimating, materials testing, 3D computer-aided drafting, site inspection, hydrology, road design and project management.

First-year CET courses will begin on Hennepin Tech’s Eden Prairie campus in fall semester 2009 with courses on the DCTC campus beginning in fall semester 2010. CET courses will then run simultaneously each semester on both campuses.

Civil techs are the jacks (and jills)-of-all-trades in the construction and engineering industries. They fill crucial roles in the planning and design of buildings, bridges, dams, highways, subdivisions, and commercial and industrial facilities. Life as a civil tech is for people who love change and tremendous variety on the job.

CET is also perfect for professionals who want to break free of an office environment and regularly work outdoors at project sites—where the touchable results of hard work and dedication are happening in real time.

CET Instructor Tim Gillette, an industry-tested civil engineer, noted that the new program will give graduates the deep skill set needed to hit the road rolling in a grudging economy. “Our grads will be equipped with the know-how and confidence to be immediate assets to their employers,” he said. “They will find great-paying jobs with engineering consulting firms, municipalities, multinational construction companies and government entities at the state and federal level.”

Looking ahead, Gillette believes that technicians will be the first civil engineering experts called back when the impending infrastructure boom gets underway. “When construction firms and government agencies start to ramp up, civil techs will be needed quickly at the computer and in the field,” he said. “Starting your degree now will get you in on the ground floor.”

Engineering Your Future

Graduates of Civil Engineering Technology program will be perfectly positioned to land jobs with companies poised to take advantage of the infrastructure boom rising on the national horizon. Civil techs with a two-year degree will also be in high demand internationally.

ISEEK, the go-to source for education and employment info in Minnesota, lists the following salary data for the seven-county metro area:

Civil Engineering Technicians

  • Average Wage: $26.10/hour
  • Top Earners: $35.08/hour

Thanks to a National Science Foundation S-STEM grant, DCTC is offering 15 $8,000 scholarships a year over the course of four years to eligible students enrolling or already enrolled in the college’s Nanoscience Technology, Civil Engineering Technology, Networking Administration, Information Systems Management and Software Development programs.

For more information on ASSETS scholarships, please contact: