College: an easy choice

Two aspiring marketers, one dentist and one pre-med student

From left: Two aspiring marketers, one dentist and one pre-med student

I had the privilege recently to talk to groups of current and potential students in the midst of an important life decision: whether to pursue a postsecondary education.

I spoke at Career and Technical Education (CTE) National Letter of Intent Signing Day. PCC participates in the nationwide event, patterned after signing day ceremonies for student-athletes.  Nearly 150 PCC and high school students pledged to pursue a credential at PCC in CTE disciplines ranging from Aviation Technology to Welding.

I also spoke to a group of about 75 seniors from Sunnyside and Desert View high schools who are taking part in the PCC Orientation Institute, which provides information and support to prospective PCC students.


With Provost Dolores Duran-Cerda and Desert Vista Campus Student Services Manager Fernando Munguia, retiring after 34 years at PCC.

Of course, in my view, the decision is easy. Students should go to college, because, as I told the students at Signing Day, education will be essential to obtain meaningful employment. By 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. Of those, 21 percent will require bachelor’s degrees. The rest are middle-skill jobs in a variety of technical and skilled-service fields, such as manufacturing and healthcare.

I understand that it’s also a time of ambiguity and uncertainty. Industry 4.0, the global economic upheaval encompassing technological advances in a multitude of areas, such as mobile technology, artificial intelligence, cloud-based computing and the Internet of Things, is proceeding with such speed most of today’s first-graders will be employed in jobs that do not currently exist.

But the depth and breadth of coming economic changes makes a lifetime of education even more important.  It all starts with college. As I said to the students at the Orientation Institute, my generation is counting on theirs to meet the challenges sure to arise as we progress through the 21st century.

Sunnyside High School automotive technology students take the Pima pledge.

Sunnyside High School automotive technology students take the Pima pledge.

Start of the semester

Andrea and Natalia are in their second semester


CMM: a very sensitive device

I visited Downtown Campus last week for the start of the Spring semester, meeting our remarkably diverse students as they got back to their studies. I was impressed by their wide range of interests and opportunities. One student was deciding whether to pursue Nursing or Photography as a career, and many were weighing whether to transfer to the University of Arizona or seek direct employment after PCC.

I also took a quick tour of our ever-improving Automotive Technology, Machine Tool Technology and Mechatronics instructional areas. Dean of Applied Technology Greg Wilson explained the intricacies of our new Coordinate Measuring Machine, which uses 3D modeling software to measure manufactured parts to an incredible degree of accuracy – think far less than the width of a human hair – and plays a critical role in the fast-growing field of digital manufacturing.

The College is finalizing purchase of two parcels of property adjacent to the Downtown Campus. Acquisition of this land will allow the College to expand its physical footprint with instructional spaces dedicated to Applied Technology, and marks a milestone in our initiative to establish a Center of Excellence devoted to high-tech design, manufacturing and repair.

Meeting K-12 needs

The College earlier this month hosted representatives of nine Tucson-area school districts and other important players in the K-12 system. We have been leading these gatherings annually since 2014. As usual, the discussion was robust and wide-ranging.

The most common need cited was for PCC to continue and intensify outreach into high school and middle school campuses, and to inform parents of their role in getting their children to attend college.

The College is committed to meeting our constituents where they live to tell our story. Our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan include major outreach initiatives.

We understand the need to start the conversation early to build strong connections with prospective students and their families. Many of our students are the first in their family to attend college, and are of modest means, making paying for school a major decision.

I thank the attendees for taking time to share insights on important topics of mutual interest, and to PCC’s Esperanza Duarte and Joi Stirrup for putting together an informative event that brings together stakeholders united in their commitment to student success.

Strengthening cross-border partnerships

The College’s connections with Mexico continue to pay dividends for students on both sides of the border. Beginning in January, PCC and the Instituto Tecnológico de Hermosillo (ITH) will share a one-year, $25,000 grant to train leaders in the fast-growing field of sustainability.

The initiative is made possible by a grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. In the Sustainable Energy Exchange Program: Benefiting Binational Communities, One Community at a Time project, PCC, ITH and community partners will teach participating students clean energy and sustainability in a global context, plus offer them work experience.

Through exchange programs students from both institutions will work in teams and gain technical skills to be more competent for the global workforce. Approximately eight PCC students will participate, starting in spring 2018. PCC expects to host eight ITH students at the same time. The grant also has a service learning component, with students educating communities on energy-saving tools and techniques.

Programs that give our students the opportunity to study abroad while bringing International students to our campuses are an excellent fit with our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, as well as Strategic Goal 6 of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan. Moreover, wind and solar energy employment is growing rapidly in the U.S., according to a 2016 Department of Energy report. This new initiative, made possible through the dedication and creativity of our Center for International Education and Global Engagement, will lead to tangible academic and career success for our students.

“One City, One County, One Community”

It was an honor to join nearly two dozen of our region’s leaders at the “One City, One County, One Community” event organized by Tucson City Council member Richard Fimbres.

Pima Community College is committed to social justice. We stand for what is right and in support of diversity, equity and inclusion. And we know that working with the community, we can make great strides in improving life for our neighbors and constituents.

Learn more about the “One City, One County, One Community” initiative.

A message of hope

Below is a message to the College community from Dr. Sofia Ramos, PCC’s Interim Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, following the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Dear Colleagues,

As we prepare for the upcoming school year and the return of our students to campus, our thoughts are with the families affected by the tragic events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, and all of us who bear witness.

Pima Community College stands firm in embracing our rich differences in identity, religion, heritage and ability as cornerstones of excellence.  We remain committed to engaging our entire community in weaving diversity and inclusion into our institutional fabric and beyond.

While national events bring pain and threaten to divide us, with the support of Chancellor Lambert and Provost Durán-Cerda, Pima will continue to build community and encourage acceptance and understanding around civility, diversity and inclusion topics through periodic gatherings in a series called Inclusion Matters.

Every day is an opportunity to spread kindness, goodness and to honor our unique identities, cultures, traditions and history. We look forward to the start of the new year and to working together as a community to create positive change.

PCC joins the M-List

Below is an announcement released to the media regarding PCC qualifying for The Manufacturing Institute’s M-List. The designation recognizes PCC’s outstanding courses in Machine Tool Technology, Welding, Mechatronics, and Building & Construction, and is a huge accomplishment for the College.

Pima Community College is the newest member of The Manufacturing Institute’s M-List. The designation acknowledges PCC’s outstanding Machine Tool Technology, Welding, Mechatronics, and Building and Construction courses.

Enrolled students will be eligible to receive certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, National Center for Construction Education & Research, and American Welding Society, as well as receive college credit.

In addition to being recognized on the M-List, PCC also participates on The Manufacturing Institute’s Education Council, representing institutions committed to delivering high-quality manufacturing education and training programs designed to meet the skill requirements of the nation’s manufacturers.

The M-List recognizes high schools, community colleges and universities that are teaching manufacturing students to industry standards. Specifically, these institutions offer students the opportunity to earn NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certifications as a standard part of their manufacturing education programs. Companies and schools interested in joining the Manufacturing Institute’s effort or learning more can visit