How NC State launched the cloud computing revolution, improved educational opportunity, and eased the pressure on school budgets.
By David Hunt
People still work with their hands in Pitt County, a largely agricultural community midway between North Carolina’s capital city and the Atlantic coast. Manufacturing plants dot the landscape, from the 1.5-million-square-foot DMS pharmaceutical facility in populous Greenville to the modest Package Craft corrugated box plant in Bethel, a crossroads village once said to be 16 miles from everywhere.
But jobs are hard to come by in this fast growing county, where a 25 percent surge in population over the past decade has far outpaced economic opportunity.
“We’ve seen a lot of textile mills and manufacturing plants go away over the past few years,” says Mike Clendenen, a resident since 1965.
With the unemployment rate stuck at more than 10 percent for the past three years, life in the area can be a struggle, despite a mix of positive factors that landed Greenville — the county seat — on this year’s Forbes list of the best small places for business and careers.
Clendenen wants to make that distinction a reality in every corner of the county. In his office on the campus of Pitt Community College, or PCC, in Winterville, where he’s director of distance learning and instructional technology, Clendenen plays a key role in helping students acquire new skills for a changing job market. It’s challenging work.
But thanks to cloud computing technology developed at North Carolina State University, students in one high-tech training program now have access to advanced software that would have been out of reach for many just a few years ago.