A multitude of firsts

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Community colleges continue to meet workforce demands by developing new programs. This spring, some of those programs have their first graduates.  

Every college commencement ceremony is a cause for celebration – particularly for the students walking across the stage. But this year, some community colleges have another reason to celebrate: They are graduating their first classes of new programs.

Seven students at Bakersfield College in California will be the first to earn baccalaureate degrees from the college. The industrial automation program is the first bachelor’s degree program developed and piloted by Bakersfield College. It focuses on preparing students for in-demand technical management careers in industries that utilize automation, such as petroleum, manufacturing, logistics and agriculture industry sectors.

On Saturday, the first class of computer programming students at Great Falls College–Montana State University earned their associate of applied science degrees. The program teaches students the skills needed to thrive as a computer programmer and to also work as a systems analyst.

The program was developed in 2016, when IT leaders and businesses from the area came together at Great Falls College MSU to discuss the need for computer programming professionals in our community.

“The demand was clearly there,” said Steve Robinett, department chair of computer technology at the college.

In addition to teaching the technical aspects, students also get the “human factor,” according to Robinett, as the class works together to identify both the good and the bad within programming and web design.

Chattanooga State Community College and partners Volkswagen of Chattanooga and Hamilton County Schools celebrated the first graduating class from the Mechatronics Akademie. The two-year program launched in 2016 and is aimed at preparing high school students for the workforce.

When the students entered the program as high school juniors, they learned welding principles, mechatronics and industrial safety, among other courses that earned them both high school and college credit. During the second year of the program, students took courses in areas such as fluid power and communications in engineering technology, as well as American government and English composition.

South Carolina’s Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College recognized 15 adults who earned their lean manufacturing certificate at a ceremony on April 19. The 52-hour program included 10 hours of OSHA training and forklift operator training.

Is your college celebrating something new at graduation this year? Sound off on LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.