By Murray Siegel
Many high school students are advised to consider a four-year university education following high school graduation to prepare for adult life. For some this is great advice, but, for many, a four-year degree may not provide opportunities for a high-paying job.
Add the outstanding debt accrued to pay for that education, graduates (and those who could not complete a four-year program) may find that upon reflection, a university degree was not the proper path. University graduates with degrees in liberal arts typically find the job market for those degrees limited to positions that are not known for their outstanding starting salaries.
Thanks to a leader with real experience, Central Arizona College (CAC) offers residents of Maricopa an opportunity to obtain leading-edge training to prepare students for high-paying jobs with a real future. Dr. Jackie Elliott, the new CAC president, knows Pinal County has great potential for young people with the right technological education. She brings 27 years of experience as a senior-level community college leader.
The college has an Advanced Manufacturing program, which has started training students for immediate positions requiring knowledge in modern technical skills. Abbott Nutrition and Frito Lay, each of which has a major production facility in Casa Grande, have signed on as advisory board members for the program. These corporations will insure the graduates of CAC’s program will have the skills to enter their employ.
Lucid Motors is opening a plant to construct electric cars in Casa Grande in 2019, and this company is coordinating with CAC to guarantee that Advanced Manufacturing Program graduates will be ready to enter the line at their plant.
Engineering and Technology Department Chair Kristen Benedict has gathered an instructional staff with the knowledge to give students what they need to be successful in the world of modern manufacturing. One program in Advanced Manufacturing is a two-semester sequence leading to a certificate in one of three pathways: Production technician, production maintenance and industrial maintenance. These certificates are stackable, which means that they can lead to a two-year associates degree and to a four-year degree through Northern Arizona University.
CAC is providing the education that will assist Maricopa in recruiting new high-tech manufacturing facilities to our city.
Murray Siegel has a PhD in MathEd and 42 years of teaching experience. He and his wife Sharon are volunteer teachers of advanced math classes at Butterfield Elementary School.
This column appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.