To help fill the growing demand for water technicians in the region, Gateway Technical College is adding aquaponics and aquaculture to the school’s Fresh Water Resources associate degree curriculum, the school said.

The curriculum, which will be developed by Gateway staff, will help students prepare for careers in water and wastewater treatment, biotech, chemistry tech, physics tech, business, food security, and eco-responsibility, said Mike Schuck, an instructor of water technology at Gateway who will also direct the aquaponics studies. The Fresh Water Resources program is operated in the school’s SC Johnson Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Center in Sturtevant.

Aquaponics is a farming system used to grow organic produce not by soil, but in water using fertilizer produced by fish.

“The skills students need for aquaponics and aquaculture easily translate to other fields and make our students even more marketable to area employers,” Schuck said. “Local water and wastewater utilities will have a 50 percent to 75 percent turnover in personnel in the next few years. Many other industries are experiencing the same problem.”

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