UT Arlington, EPA join forces for workforce needs
EPA Region 6
A newly announced partnership between The University of Texas at Arlington and the Environmental Protection Agency targets a growing need for environmental engineering workers.
“What we’re trying to do is focus on the larger areas of environmental and occupational safety training,” said Vistasp Karbhari, UTA president, referring to his school’s longtime role in training EPA workers in occupational safety and health.
“We have increasing demand from employers around here for more programs that are related to their areas of need,” Karbhari said.
To that end, Karbhari and EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry this month announced a partnership that sees UTA continue to support EPA education and outreach programs through the university’s Environmental Training Institute and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration Education Center, while introducing new opportunities for student mentorship and internships.
“This agreement opens new pathways for our faculty members and students while ensuring that the EPA has a strong partner to meet the needs of professionals working in these essential fields,” Karbhari said.
In turn, the EPA is expected to strengthen UTA’s professional curriculum in all areas of environmental policy and programs, Curry said. It provides new opportunities for EPA staff to mentor students and encourage them as they identify potential careers.
“Together, we will put these students on a path to improve the environment and shape the future,” Curry said.
The four-year partnership, outlined in a memorandum of understanding, focuses on several key areas:
· Improve the quality of environmental engineering, science, technical, health, safety, and risk management education;
· Increase the relevance of UTA research projects to EPA’s environmental and public health mission;
· Mentor students especially in the study of science, engineering, and mathematics;
· Integrate UTA’s community service and EPA’s environmental justice programs, policies, and activities; and
· Establish a reciprocal relationship focusing on educational and outreach programs with UTA’s Division for Enterprise Development Environment Training Institute and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Education Center.
The partnership sees the EPA participate in joint research projects, share research information and enhance opportunities for UTA students through career fairs, mentoring and internships.
The partnership builds on UTA’s scholarship and research accomplishments of faculty in areas related to environmental science, engineering and innovation.
The new effort will require no additional funding, as costs are primarily borne by those taking the school’s continuing education courses, Karbhari said.
“In the future, as well go into potential research collaboration, the potential for us getting funding for that would be through the EPA or other government agencies,” Karbhari said.
UTA’s Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center, an affiliate of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has been a recipient of the EPA Region 6 Pollution Prevention Grant program since 2001 and since 2014 has worked under an EPA grant to create sustainable food manufacturing management systems.
The Division of Enterprise Development at UTA holds a cooperative agreement with the EPA to help area businesses reduce hazardous waste and manage the EPA’s pollution prevention resource exchange, known as the Zero Waste Network. The training program developed under those grants created the foundation for UTA’s Environmental Training Institute. The division also has a two-year EPA grant that supports oil and gas environmental programs.