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HMTRI: Hazardous Materials Training and Research Institute
Kirkwood Community College, IA


The demand for environmental workers and operators is constant and far surpasses the ability of post-secondary education to supply an adequately trained workforce, especially in America’s small towns and rural counties. This type of training is driven by the certification requirements of state and federal agencies. Workforce demands affirm the need for web-based distance education options, but challenges for this field of study include—

  • Hands-on skill training;
  • Humanizing courses for students with learning challenges;
  • Customizing courses to meet differences in state and federal standards; and
  • Creating partnerships with local training providers that recruit, enroll, and employ students.

Program Description

In response to these challenges, the Hazardous Materials Training and Research Institute (HMTRI), a non-profit corporation, was established in 1987 as a branch of Kirkwood Community College and Eastern Iowa Community College District through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The colleges’ collaboration was based on a long-standing history of environmental health and safety programs and training services. The purpose of HMTRI is to promote national education, training, and certification of environmental technologies; create instructional programming according to clean and safe regulations for hazardous waste site workers; and serve students and professionals who are unable to attend training in more traditional settings.

In response to the challenges of distance education for science-based, lab-required, and instructional modeling programs, HMTRI developed a series of web-supported learning packages called Environmental Technology Online (ET Online). ET Online offers a series of Certificates and an A.S. Degree based on open-entry, self-paced instruction, with managed activities to upgrade skills and prepare workers and operators as certified environmental technicians. These specialty courses were developed according to state and federal guidelines, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) recognize HMTRI as one of a select number of National Centers of Excellence. Examples of HMTRI online courses and programs include:

Hazardous Waste Site Worker Training (Hazwoper on the Web) Certification – A 40-hour self-paced, open entry/open exit, waste site worker program that meets all the requirements of OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Site Worker and Emergency Response Standard. The program consists of an online text, interactive exercises, web links, self-grading quizzes, and a final exam. In addition, there are two days of face-to face training required to complete the 40-hours for Hazwoper Certification.

Water Supply and Distribution Operations – A 15-hour program that includes instruction and working knowledge of potable water distribution systems. The topics of this course include water storage facilities, operation and maintenance of water mains, water quality issues, disinfections, and safety. Along with reading assignments from the text, the course is enhanced with audio, up-to-date photographs, interactive exercises, and online links.

Solid Waste Environmental Technologies – A 24-hour program, with an 8-hour lab, that includes topics and interactive instruction for Waste Decomposition, Geology, Hydrology, Landfill Design and Construction, General Operations, End-use, and OSHA Regulations. The course is enhanced with up-to-date photographs, audio, related resource links, and video allowing students to obtain the skills and knowledge to operate in a variety of landfill and composting facilities.

The foundation of HMTRI is web-based learning content and a proximate skills training approach, whereby the online content is coupled with college partner licensing agreements across the nation. This two-pronged approach offers students a full-service solution for 1) web-based instructional content, and 2) hands-on skill training, with local proctored oversight offering hands-on skill training, services for students with unique needs or learning challenges, 3) customized courses that meet local, state, and federal standards, and 4) partnerships with local industry and service providers for recruitment and placement of certified workers.

Program Partnerships & Implementation Models

Students enroll in HMTRI programs through a variety of hosting partners and home colleges, from rural tribal colleges to inner city minority-training centers. Students register and pay tuition to the hosting partner/home college who also collects and maintains the Full-Time Enrollment (FTE) or local/state funding source. The cost of enrollment in any of the ET Online programs is $50.00 per student, per credit hour, which includes an online instructor.

Local instructors or proctors provide necessary hands-on exercises, and HMTRI provides technical assistance to the hosting partners/home colleges, as well as serves as a secondary resource to students through electronic communications. Students register at hosting partner/home colleges and are then granted access to online "lectures" and instruction via the Internet.

ET Online is currently hosting 108 partners and home colleges, located in over 41 states. The following link provides contact information for the partners located in your state—ET Online Partners.

Summary

Through HMTRI and ET Online Partnerships, colleges across the nation are able to add credit courses or continuing education classes via the Internet to meet unique certification needs without developmental costs or annual fees. Local colleges are now able to better serve their local communities and add greater flexibility and outreach to their program offerings.


For more information, contact:
Doug Elam
Special Projects Director, HMTRI
Kirkwood Community College


 
 

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