Curriculum expansion and convenience enhance appeal of Great Bay’s Rochester campus.

03/09/2016 by Bob Keyes

ROCHESTER – In its brief existence, the Rochester campus of Great Bay Community College, otherwise known as the Advanced Technology & Academic Center or ATAC, has earned a reputation as a place where students can learn the latest in advanced composite manufacturing, qualifying them for immediate jobs when they graduate.

It’s also a campus where students can pick up liberal arts classes to use toward an associate’s degree at Great Bay or a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university. The Rochester campus offers courses in English composition, math, critical thinking, computer technologies, psychology, sociology and other classes that satisfy both the general education and major specific requirements. Rochester has offered liberal arts classes from the start, but the course offerings continue to grow, said Bruce Baker, who directs the campus at Rochester. “We are growing every semester. We’re talking now about which courses to add to the coming summer and fall collection of offerings. We want to add to it every term, and we hope to grow incrementally every year.”

As Jenna Anand, Enrollment and Academic Support Counselor often explains, GBCC in Portsmouth is the main campus and GBCC Rochester/ATAC  is considered a satellite campus.  “This means that we are the same college with the same accreditations, the same classes and often professors.  If a student wants to take one class in Rochester and the rest in Portsmouth, we can help  then with that.   If a student wants to take most/all of his or her classes in Rochester, we can also help them with that.”  According to Anand, the campus also offers many of the same services as Portsmouth including admissions, placement testing, tutoring, academic coaching, computer labs, and quiet study space. Students can also  be connected to more specialized services for disability accommodations, international student information, and veteran’s benefits.”

The Rochester campus is about 25 miles from Great Bay’s flagship campus in Portsmouth. It opened in 2013, with a federal job-creation grant. Its primary mission was and remains to develop, train and educate a workforce that supports New Hampshire’s growing advanced composites manufacturing industry. It is the only advanced composites manufacturing program of its kind in the Northeast.

The liberal arts classes however enhance the campus, and help broaden its appeal.  “Being able to take classes in Rochester is a godsend,” said Gina Marie Countryman, 49, who enrolled in fall 2014 with a goal of becoming a registered nurse. She works as a surgical technologist in Portsmouth, and decided to take classes to advance her career.

She lives in Rochester, and watched as a former mattress store was converted into a college campus. “I took it as a sign,” she said. “I drove by it every day on my way home from work.” She made the call, met with a counselor and together they mapped out an academic roadmap. “The professors are amazing, and more than willing to work with you to do whatever it takes to help you succeed.”

Jon Kaban,44  also a Rochester resident, did in fact enroll in the ACM program because of the job prospects after graduating and the convenience of location.  “I chose the ACM program because it is a growing field with great job opportunities in or close to Rochester, and great pay,” he said.

Because the campus is close to his home, he saves time and money, because he doesn’t commute to Portsmouth campus. He appreciates the staff, as well as the building itself. “The facility is only a couple of years old, so it is in great shape.  The ACM labs are quite nice with all the latest technology to learn your trade,” he said.

Between 200 and 300 students attend classes at Great Bay’s Rochester campus. A new tuition incentive allows residents of Maine and Massachusetts who enroll in the Advanced Composite Manufacturing program and live within a 50-mile radius of Portsmouth to receive tuition at the same rate as New Hampshire residents. ACM was among three programs selected for the in-state tuition plan, which begins in the spring on a trial.

To accommodate the growth and expansion, the Rochester campus has expanded from 17,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet in 2015, with the addition of new lab space, a classroom, lounge, faculty office and conference room.

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