Posts Tagged ‘American Association of Community Colleges’

Community Colleges: A Look Back and A Look Ahead

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Community colleges have gotten a lot of attention over the past year, generating widespread discussion in the business community, the academic community and especially in the White House. Early this month, the 91st annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) held in New Orleans, took a look back at how community colleges first came into existence — and a glimpse forward at what lies ahead. You might be surprised at the similarities.

The community college program is 110 years old. According to the AACC, most historians point to the founding of Joliet Junior College, near Chicago, in 1901, as the beginning of this popular program. As the AACC notes, “…the roots of this uniquely American contribution to higher education [lie] in a social movement that widely broadened access to higher education and training opportunities to students who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend college due to economic, mobility and social barriers.” Today, Joliet Junior College is the oldest community college still in operation.

The term “community college” was first used in 1947. Harry Truman was president and World War II was over. The Truman Commission report was the first time the term “community colleges” was used. It recommended that the community college program be expanded to every state to meet the educational and training needs of returning veterans as well as the country’s growing need for skilled workers in a rapidly shifting economy.

Today, there are close to 1,200 accredited community college programs throughout the country and there is a community college within a short commute of 90 percent of the U.S. population. And now, as then, community colleges are providing training for returning veterans, and continue to playing an essential role in preparing the nation’s workforce to meet the needs of changing local economies.

The community college has even gone global. Our “uniquely American” education model can now be found around the world. According to the AACC, community colleges can now be found in Saudia Arabia, Qatar, Vietanam, Thailand and the Republic of Georgia. In addition, the AACC has signed cooperative agreements with postsecondary education systems in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

What lies ahead for community colleges? Plenty. Check out the keynote address
delivered by AACC President Dr. Walter Bumphus at this month’s annual meeting. Dr. Bumphus said it best: “Never in more than 100 years of service have [community colleges] been more visible or valued.”

Energy Technician Education Summit

Friday, December 17th, 2010
Photo Courtesy of the AACC

Photo Courtesy of the AACC

This week’s Episode of ATETV features the Segment “Gearing Up for the Energy Workforce.” So, it seems particularly timely that the broadcast coincides with the recent National Energy Technician Education Summit, which was held in Washington December 8-10.

Hosted by the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) and the American Association of Community Colleges, the summit brought together representatives from the worlds of education, industry, and government to focus on the ways that community colleges can meet the current and future needs for technicians in the energy sector, an industry propelled by growing demands for alternative energies and a growing need to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

According to a story appearing on the website of the Community College Times, summit participants agreed that a combination of technical skills and “soft skills” are required for the job of energy technician. On the technical side, aptitudes in math, science, data analysis and mechanical and information technology were cited as necessary for the field. And employers at the summit agreed that they also seek employees who possess “soft” skills such as the ability to speak and write clearly, to solve problems, to work on a team, and to think critically.

As Daniel Lance, global training leader for GE Energy Renewables told the Community College Times, “Give me a technician that’s got a good, solid fundamental understanding of electrical theory, power generation, safety and some work experience [and] I can take that resource and teach [him] the specifics of the GE technology that they need.”

Another area of focus at the three-day long event was energy efficiency. As we heard from students and teachers at Sinclair Community College in this week’s Episode, energy efficiency measures begin one building at a time. But, with nearly 5 million commercial buildings in North America, these measures wind up having widespread environmental and economic impact — and create a significant demand for energy technicians who know how to efficiently operate building systems. As New York State Energy Research and Development Authority project manager Kimberlie Lenihan told the Community College Times, “We need whole-building thinkers.”

A summit summary will be posted at the ATEEC web site and the ATEEC will publish a full report on the National Energy Technician Summit next spring. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about alternative energy, energy efficiency and workforce trends for energy technicians, check out additional resources at the Community College Times.