With the increase in leisure activities both in the public and private sectors, demand for trained professionals in the pool and spa industry is high. There is a rising need for pool professionals who have attained advanced knowledge in swimming pool technology. Swimming pool construction firms are now involved with computer assisted design (CAD) and require advanced knowledge of all parameters of construction, hydraulics and electrical expertise. Swimming pool retail stores demand personnel more attuned to the newest products in order to enhance their store’s professionalism and better satisfy their customers’ needs. Service technicians need broader knowledge of filtration, electronics and hydraulics to assure safe and healthy residential and commercial pools and spas.
Accredited associates degree
The Aquatic Engineering Technology Degree through Keiser College’s eCampus online is the first to address this rising need. With the flexibility of attending classes online, students can now earn an aquatic engineering degree from the comfort of their own computer and on their own schedule.
This two-year associates degree is the most comprehensive online curriculum for the aquatics industry. Advancements in technology demand a more structured educational environment. This course is the ideal vehicle for those entering the pool and spa industry as well as those already working therein, providing all aspects of swimming pool and spa sciences.
The program was a vision of Bill Kent’s, President of the Team Horner Group based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Kent convinced Keiser College that it was essential to develop a higher educational venue for pool company owners, contractors and pool operators. The program, now entering its third year, is approved by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) as an accredited associates degree program.
The two-year curriculum consists of 60 hours of coursework. The online adult education program requires each student to complete 36 credit hours of core courses and 24 credit hours of general education courses. The core courses include eight technical modules, as follows:
- Water Chemistry
- Advanced Chemistry
- Hydraulics, Filtration
In addition, there are supplemental courses which include an Introduction to Pool Design, Methods of Construction, Architectural Landscape Design and Pool Operation Strategies. Each course entails four weekly lessons.
Adult learners are motivated and self-directed, with life experiences that enhance their educational opportunities, which they often juggle with family and work. The flexibility of online classes respects both time management and different ways of learning. This program incorporates various methods to increase participation among students and the courses provide a variety of methods conducive to distance learning.
Effective tools for online education
Maximizing the effectiveness of the online learning experience is critical. For over 25 years, Keiser College has provided student-centered, quality career education and now offers degree programs online to prepare students for many high-demand professions. Associate and bachelor’s degrees are offered with a curriculum that is in pace with technology and workforce demand trends. Keiser’s ‘one class at a time’ approach allows busy students to focus on their education and balance the demands of work and family. The college has developed specific tools to maximize the online education experience, which have been adapted to the aquatics engineering curriculum as follows:
Textbook and PowerPoint graphics
The faculty-researched textbooks relate to the different modules, which are approved by the college. Since there are several modules in which there are no textbooks, PowerPoint presentations, photos and graphics were developed to enhance the learning experience and illustrate the topics being studied.
Threaded discussions and live chats
Each week, students engage in threaded discussions. The instructor gives a topic and the students must respond to the topic and interact with other students. In addition, there is a weekly live chat where the instructor and students discuss the weekly topic and share experiences related to the subject.
Several of the modules require students to actively work in the field with real-world aquatic issues; i.e., water testing procedures, hydraulic friction loss calculations and electrical safety issues in the mechanical room.
Each week the students are given a topic to research on the web. The students share their findings with the other students and a discussion forum is developed.
The instructors respond and participate throughout the program and provide guidance and leadership to create a positive educational attitude.
- All course requirements are on-line.
- Students continue to work full-time and take one course at a time.
- Prior college credits in the general education modules may be transferable.
- Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify.
- All classes are taught by an experienced pool professional who has an understanding of the industry and empathy with students’ time constraints.
- An accredited college degree in the swimming pool discipline will enable program graduates to broaden their career development and professional potential.
The primary goal of all pool and spa professionals is to provide a safe and healthy environment for swimming pool users. One of the major issues facing the industry is lack of training and the Keiser College Aquatic Engineering Technology Degree Program is dedicated to providing the education professionals need to succeed.
About the author
Connie Gibson Centrella is Program Director of the Keiser College Aquatic Engineering Technology Program. She has over 47 years experience in various aspects of the pool industry. Centrella is a graduate of George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee. She also serves as Director of Education for Team Horner and provides education through the Horner Institute for Technology and Training. She has served on numerous industry committees and is a member of the National Swimming Pool Foundation Education Committee. Centrella has been a Certified Pool-Spa Operator Instructor® for 25 years, has conducted over 150 workshops and has, as a Certified Pool-Spa Operator® (CPO®) Instructor, certified an impressive 1,450 pool service companies, retail dealers and instructors worldwide. She can be reached via email at [email protected].