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Matt Taggart

You can take online classes from Columbus State anywhere – even in Iraq.

Matt Taggart, a 27-year-old military contractor based in Baghdad, took two classes from Columbus State to help further his career. He took a computer-aided drafting class to help him with his work in Iraq, and a Real Estate course to help him back home.

“It’s just like taking a class at home,” Taggart says. “I just have a desert around me.”

A Cleveland native, Taggart earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Ohio State, and served in Iraq with the Ohio National Guard in 2008. He went back as an engineer technician for KBR Inc., a global engineering, procurement and construction company, and now he’s helping provide water and wastewater services for U.S. troops in Iraq.

That’s where the drafting class came in. Although he’d taken drafting as part of his undergrad degree at Ohio State, he needed a refresher course.He took ARCH 112 - Construction CAD Drafting I, from Prof. Doug Ritchie. Later, he took a course in Professional Property Management (Real Estate 221) to help with a piece of property he owns back in Columbus.

Fitting an online class into an 80-hour schedule was tough, but Taggart says his professors were willing to work with him.

“They were very helpful and understanding of my situation,” Taggart says. For example, he was assigned to go around and check out houses, but his Real Estate prof allowed him to alter the assignment.

Columbus State is the largest provider of online learning classes in the state. Around 41 percent of students took at least one online class in Autumn 2010, or 12,678 students. Some 5,623 students took only online classes, or 18.4 percent of the total enrollment.

The Real Estate program offers a four-course certificate to get students ready to become licensed real estate agents, as well as an associate degree in Real Estate and a number of continuing education courses. Drafting falls under the Architecture program, which prepares students to assist licensed architects or work with builders and developers.