December 12, 2013
When the howitzer he was firing recoiled, Andrew Cockrell dove. But the hard ground of Afghanistan was unforgiving and the trajectory at which the 4,000-pound gun was aimed left him little room for safety.
The big gun struck Cockrell in the back. The resulting injury brought to an end his second tour of duty in Operation Enduring Freedom. It also shattered the Terre Haute plans of becoming a career soldier.
Following the 2006 accident, Cockrell spent "four or five years of working and scraping by" and then enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College. Approaching 30, and with a growing family, he chose an Associate in Applied Science program in agriculture.
Now nearing completion of the program, he has realized he needs a bachelor's degree to secure a more promising future for his wife, two children and four stepchildren.
Until now, that would have meant starting over at Ivy Tech or at another college or university but a new program at Indiana State University offers an alternative and Cockrell plans to apply.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education Thursday approved Indiana State's request to offer a first of its kind Bachelor of Applied Science degree. Previously, Associate in Applied Science degrees from community colleges would not transfer to programs at four-year universities.
Indiana State plans to offer the degree in two tracks, technology and health sciences. Cockrell is eyeing the technology track.
"That's going to be a good long term approach for me, to get into technology within the agriculture field," he said. "I'm going to hit the (Bachelor of Applied Science program) and then minor in unmanned systems. Both are new and I think that will all tie in very well for the future."
Thousands of Indiana residents have completed, or are pursuing, Associate in Applied Science degrees, noted Richard "Biff" Williams, Indiana State's provost and vice president for academic affairs.
"This new bachelor's degree completion program can go a long way toward helping the state achieve its goal of increasing the number of Hoosiers with four-year degrees," he said. "This program gives the students the unique opportunity to apply their technical Associate in Applied Science credits to a bachelor's degree. The Bachelor of Applied Science degree can make Indiana State a leader in Indiana and the nation."
In an effort to help more working Hoosiers complete the program, Indiana State will offer the degree online and students will need to complete only 60 credit hours through Indiana State to graduate, said Ken Brauchle, dean of extended learning.
"The creation of the Bachelor of Applied Science degree provides a student-centered educational environment that helps individuals fulfill their specific career goals by acquiring more advanced skills," Brauchle said. "At the same time, they will add more general skills necessary for success and advancement in the workplace."
Even though the program will be delivered online, courses will incorporate activities that will require students to communicate and collaborate on projects, Brauchle said.
"The Technology track is multidisciplinary and encompasses the entire college, as opposed to being specific to any single department," added Robert English, interim dean of the College of Technology. "The degree requires the completion of a minor within the college."
Indiana State faculty and administrators and Commission of Higher Education staff have been fine tuning the program for months. University officials hope to have the new degree in place by fall 2014 but students can begin taking classes this spring in preparation.
Cockrell is thrilled.
"My wife and I are both ready for me to make some money," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited and it's a good example for my kids."
Contact: Ken Brauchle, dean of extended learning, Indiana State University, 812-237-4394 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or email@example.com
The Commission for Higher Education has approved a first of its kind Bachelor of Applied Science degree for Indiana State. Designed for people with Associate in Applied Science degrees. It will be offered in technology and health science tracks.