Belmont College Partners With University of Akron

To meet the demand for skilled employees in the energy industry, Belmont College and the University of Akron are partnering to offer students the opportunity to earn bachelor’s degrees in surveying and mapping from the St. Clairsville campus.

Paul Gasparro, president of the college, pointed out students attending Belmont can currently take selected courses from a variety of areas related to land surveying to receive an associate’s degree. Now, by completing six University of Akron bridge classes onsite at Belmont College, they can also earn degrees in land mapping. The bridge courses and bachelor of science classes will be taught at Belmont.

“We do the first two, they do the second two years of it, and what’s nice about it is they’re going to do it right here on campus,” Gasparro said.

Belmont College offers a civil engineering program, which is a first step toward a surveying career, and Akron offers a bachelor’s degree in surveying. Surveyors and mappers in the Upper Ohio Valley’s energy industry perform surveys of land boundaries for property deeds and parcel descriptions. They also develop layouts related to pipeline construction. Mappers occasionally use drones to help determine topography of land for energy facilities and pipeline transportation.

The program begins in the fall semester.

“A lot of our students who are currently enrolled can just move in to the program and finish the degree that they’re presently taking, then transfer right into the four-year degree,” Edward Mowrer, operations manager with Belmont College, said, adding that sign up will begin today.

“One thing that’s unique about this program is that it uses a lot of our existing college classes, so a lot of our students that are currently enrolled are already meeting many of the requirements for a degree. Their math, their English, their science courses. It’s the specialty courses in surveying that they’ll be getting from Akron,” Mower said.

Charles Harkness, representing Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio, said statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show the demand for surveyors growing steadily for the next decade.

“I think the local surveyors here will be very glad to be involved, and eventually glad to be hiring these people,” Harkness said. “This is one more step Ohio’s taking to make sure we have adequate numbers of professional land surveyors.”

“Students will not have to leave the area to complete these courses and the jobs outlook for this pathway is solid,” Rebecca Kurtz, vice president of academic affairs and student engagement at Belmont College, said.

Gary Schuller, professor of surveying and mapping for Akron, added the energy industry is driving new career possibilities.

Elizabeth Kennedy, dean of the college of applied science and technology with Akron, said her university offers the only four-year accredited program in the state of Ohio, which carries weight.

“Anybody that sees that accreditation knows that program’s worthwhile,” she said, adding that for the past four years, their graduates have a 100 percent placement in employment within six months of graduation. “So you know you’re going to get a job, you know you’re going to get the professional certification, and you’ll start the career that will really program that will really launch your life.”