Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Del Tech discontinues energy technologies associates programs

Delaware Public Media

Delaware Tech is discontinuing its Energy Technologies associates program.

Three energy technologies programs – energy management, renewable energy solar, and building automation systems – will no longer be available to new students starting Fall 2024.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Justina Thomas says enrollment dropped from a high of 81 students across all three programs in the 2017-2018 school year to a low of 14 in 2022-2023.

“In addition to that, the number of graduates that we are producing has also dwindled,” Thomas says. “So for the last several years, frankly, we have really been looking at the programs and determining the viability of them.”

Thomas also claims the associates degree program is not what the labor market is demanding, according to “additional data streams.”

But students like Sabrina Sablon, note the program has a 100 percent job placement rate.

“There is a lot of opportunity, she says. “Our instructor gets calls and emails from businesses and places of work that are asking, ‘Do you have students that can fill these roles for us?’ Constantly. Because they have so many roles that need to be filled.

And students say enrollment from last year’s low doubled this year. Emily Ransdell argues the college is not giving the program time to bounce back from COVID.

“The pandemic years, of course they were hard, they were hard on all programs, but especially this one because it has more of a hands-on approach and it has classes that are harder to teach completely online,” Ransdell says. “So it feels like the college isn’t giving these programs the opportunity to fully recover from COVID. Because even now I would say we are not fully recovered from COVID.”

Students on track to graduate by May 2025 will be able to complete their degrees. Others will have to meet with an advisor to find another career path.

Thomas says many of the skills from the energy technologies programs can be, and have already been integrated into other programs like electronics, environmental, and architectural engineering. She says they plan to offer a number of certification programs to fill workforce needs in this sector of the state’s economy too.

“The market changes and as the needs change in the energy sector, we can quickly pivot as needed,” Thomas says. “So we’re actually really looking forward to the opportunities that are coming down the pike to do just that.”

But Ransdell says integrating the skills with engineering programs and only offering certificates is not enough to meet what jobs in the sector require.

“These degrees go into such a deeper level than if you were to integrate energy into an engineering degree,” she says.

Ransdell says they are hoping to get the college to reverse the decision, and give the program more time to boost enrollment.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.