Chattahoochee Tech. looks back on 50 years
by Ellen Eldridge
May 26, 2014 04:00 AM | 2318 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The memory of the Chattahoochee Technical College’s first 37-member Class of 1964 will be present with this year’s 200 graduates as they cross the stage June 3.

After 50 years of technical programs, CTC is responsible for teaching workplace skills graduates can use in vocational fields, but much has changed since the first class graduated.

When operations started at CTC in 1963, classes were offered on a trimester system with three 15-week terms each year, costing about $100 for the year. Now, two semesters and a summer program make up the school year, where the cost per year is approximately $3,000, said Rebecca Long, college spokeswoman.

After 50 years, CTC is the largest technical college in Georgia, with more than 17,000 students enrolled each year. Headquartered on South Cobb Drive in Marietta, eight campuses serve a six-county area in North Georgia: Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Gilmer, Paulding and Pickens.

CTC offers programs in health sciences, which are the most popular programs chosen by more than one-third of students, Long said.

During next month’s commencement ceremonies, the college will give each graduate a large, gold emblem with “50 Years” enscribed on it, Long said.

This is the first year CTC will hold its commencement ceremony annually, as opposed to one in May and one in December, Long said.

Thirty-eight students, or 19 percent, will graduate next month with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, which is not uncommon, Long said, adding 34 students graduated with a 4.0 in 2013.

“A lot of our students, because they’re older, are very focused on their education,” Long said.

In her four years at CTC, Long said she has continued to see the college grow not only in the number of students but also in its diversity.

“The age ranges from 16-year-olds looking to get college credit to 64-year-olds who are looking to learn more about a new hobby or even start a new career,” Long said, recalling a husband and wife in their 70s from Jasper who enrolled because they had never earned college degrees.

“The husband went to Vietnam and didn’t get to attend his high school graduation,” Long said. “They got married at 18, and the joke was that they are now ‘college sweethearts.’”

Robert Brindle, 64, of Marietta, is this year’s oldest graduate. He earned a degree in motorcycle repair, Long said.

Brindle said he retired July 1, 2012, after 41 years working with the same company as a mechanical engineer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1971 from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., he said.

“I’ve been doing mechanic work a long time, but I learned a lot in these classes,” Brindle said. “My weakness was electrical,” he said, describing how much instructor Benjamin Pendley helped him. “I feel I can diagnose a car as well as a motorcycle,” Brindle said.

His favorite part of the motorcycle repair program was the hands-on environment. Brindle said he learned to completely tear down and rebuild the engine in his 2010 Harley Davidson motorcycle.

A longtime hobby of Brindle’s was Corvette restoration, but after getting married in 2001 and moving into his wife’s house, which had a smaller garage, Brindle said he didn’t have enough room for Corvettes. “I had room to restore motorcycles,” he said.

“I was chief engineer and I never had that much fun as I did during that college session,” Brindle said.

After graduation June 3, Brindle said he plans to enroll in the fall automotive program. Any student who enrolls in a college or university after his or her 63 birthday does not have to pay tuition, Long said.

Brindle said he intended to pay for his program, and felt pleasantly surprised to find his education so “reasonably priced,” he said. “It only cost me about $200 per semester for athletic department and other fees.”

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