Wednesday, December 8, 2021
A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses
Charles Davis, Jr., visiting professor, math, is leading a pilot program to create new pathways to rewarding technical careers for those with associate degrees or other professional certifications.
Valencia College is one of six community colleges around the United States that is participating in the initiative launched this fall by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the world’s premier professional society for multidisciplinary engineers. The initiative, known as “Community College Engineering Pathways,” is a multifaceted effort to meet the growing need for diverse, skilled technical workers in engineering-related fields.
“Right now, there are literally millions of good-paying technical jobs going unfilled — jobs for which you need technical skills but not necessarily a four-year college degree,” Charles shared. “At the same time, there are millions of bright, young people motivated to fill those jobs, but who may lack awareness of and access to these opportunities.”
Charles is leading Valencia’s participation in the pilot and is chairing the national faculty advisory committee that will provide feedback to ASME’s program managers. There are three critical ways that ASME’s Community College Engineering Pathways program will help fill the talent pipeline and bridge the skills gap: First, by helping community colleges align curriculum with the fast-changing needs of the marketplace. Second, by working with community colleges to enhance resources for career development support. And third, by establishing networks with employers to place students in internships, apprenticeships, and jobs.
“Community colleges like Valencia are ideally suited to help build the technical workforce our country needs,” Charles added. “But we can’t do it alone. ASME’s CCEP program is exactly the kind of support we need, bringing together students, academia, business, government and non-profit organizations in a concerted effort to develop tomorrow’s engineering workforce.”
According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, there are an estimated 3.4 million jobs currently available for skilled technical workers — employees with advanced training obtained through a two-year associate degree program or other professional certifications.
In addition to filling the talent pipeline, the CCEP program addresses the need for more equitable access to well-paying technical careers among those from backgrounds that are underrepresented in technical fields. Because of their highly diverse enrollment, the nation’s more than 1,000 community colleges are ideal partners for this initiative.
The CCEP pilot program will continue through the current academic year with an eye toward launching nationwide next fall. For more information about the CCEP program at Valencia College, contact Charles at email@example.com or 407-582-5607, or visit the ASME Foundation website.
Also, congratulations to Charles for completing the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship program, designed to address the under-representation of African American and Hispanic faculty at colleges and universities throughout Florida. The highly competitive fellowship is awarded to Ph.D. students who are engaged in STEM research disciplines at select Florida universities. Read more about this accolade here.