As the Aberdeen Proving Ground military base in Maryland receives thousands of new workers as part of the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan, Maryland lawmakers are considering creating a new university near the base to train students for the thousands of new high-tech jobs in the area.
Maryland House delegates recently passed a bill to create a task force to research the feasibility for creating a college in northeastern Maryland. If the state Senate passes the bill, the task force would include the heads of various University System of Maryland colleges and would deliver its report to the General Assembly by the end of the year.
Under the BRAC plan, 8,800 military jobs and at least twice as many defense contracting positions are in the process of moving to Aberdeen. Overall, BRAC is expected to bring 30,000 new jobs to Maryland, including jobs associated with defense contractors, jobs supporting installations and jobs generated in the communities surrounding the bases. The state is also expected to gain approximately 28,000 households as well.
While many of the new jobs are transfers from another military base in Fort Monmouth, N.J. – which is being closed because of BRAC – economic development and military officials said a significant portion of the positions will need to be filled by Marylanders in the future. State lawmakers say they need to train college students in high-tech careers as engineers and systems analysts, preferably at a local university, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.
The task force will decide if building an entirely new college is needed, or if a smaller facility in Aberdeen called the Higher Education and Applied Technology (HEAT) center should be expanded. In order to expand the HEAT center in Hartford, Maryland, officials say they will need $31.3 million.