Chandler-Gilbert Community College receives $2 million from U.S. Department of Labor
CGCC will lead a STEM initiative and expand electrical utility technology program as part of consortium
Chandler-Gilbert Community College was awarded a $2 million grant by the U.S. Department of Labor to revise and expand its Electrical Utility Technology (EUT) program and to develop a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pipeline of graduates prepared for local jobs.
The funds are part of a $13.5 million grant awarded to the Arizona Sun Corridor Get Into Energy Consortium (ASC-GIEC), comprised of five Arizona community colleges, under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative in an effort to develop programs to help fulfill the state’s energy industry workforce needs.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who travelled to Arizona to announce the grant and tour the campus of consortium leader Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale, emphasized the goals of the grant are to train adults for high-skill, high wage employment as well as foster partnerships between community colleges and local employers to promote skill development and employment opportunities.
“Arizona’s future depends on high-wage, high-skill jobs, especially in the rapidly-changing area of energy technologies.” said Linda Lujan, president of Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC). “This grant provides an outstanding opportunity for partner colleges to meet the needs of students, industry partners and the state. CGCC is honored to be part of this initiative and is excited to focus on innovative educational pathways and programmatic improvement to benefit our communities.”
“The grant comes at a crucial time,” said Maria Reyes, Dean of Career and Technical Education for Chandler-Gilbert Community College. “The program staff is working closely with business partners like Arizona Public Service, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power to ensure training is stackable and relates to industry-recognized credentials that address their current and future needs for a skilled workforce.”
As part of the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers entering retirement age, the energy industry will need to replace nearly 55 percent of its workforce over the next decade due to retirement and other attrition.
The grant will enable CGCC to increase student participation in the EUT program over the next three years by upgrading current equipment, purchasing additional equipment, and hiring additional instructors, lab technicians and other necessary staff.
CGCC will also lead the STEM component of the grant, developing a common curriculum, credit certificates and degrees to allow seamless transferability for students to energy and mining industries. Students interested in pursuing a bachelor degree in engineering or other energy-related degrees will fund an expanded transfer path to Arizona State University (ASU) through the collaboration of Science Foundation of Arizona (SFAz), which is chartered by the State of Arizona to facilitate STEM education opportunities across all public, private and nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities.
“CGCC already has a strong engineering technology program where students who complete a two-year of study have earned the credentials to be employed or they can transfer to ASU,” said Reyes. “The grant will help us enhance the pathways to map to the Energy Industry Competency (EIC) model and deliver that program to all of the consortium colleges, significantly increasing the number of individuals effectively prepared to enter STEM careers throughout the state.”
The Arizona Sun Corridor Get Into Energy Consortium includes Estrella Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Northland Pioneer College, Pima Community College and Yavapai Community College. CGCC also will benefit from the work of these consortium partners as they will lead other aspects of the project. Together, the five consortia members are targeted to impact 7,500 students over the next three years.