Reporter’s notebook

Back in the headlines

With the upcoming 100th anniversary of the American Association of Community Colleges, Community College Daily took a look at what were some of the top issues for public two-year campuses featured in our pages this day 30 years ago. (CCDaily then was a biweekly called the Community College Times.)

If you’ve been in the community college field long enough, you start to see certain topics cycle back into the headlines. Check out these topics from lead articles on June 6, 1989:

  • building bridges between two- and four-year colleges (especially around transfer)
  • the image challenge of community colleges
  • should community colleges include humanities in all aspects of their curriculum
  • improving student success rates

CCDaily also had some familiar themes 10 years ago in its June 5, 2009, edition with articles about:

  • community colleges in the national spotlight due to a workforce focus by the president
  • the seeds of dual enrollment with states like Colorado starting to promote associate degrees in high schools
  • challenges in finding skilled workers to fill available jobs

Pima prepares for aviation tech expansion

Southern Arizona’s aviation industry soon will get a much needed workforce boost following a one-time state appropriation of $15 million to Pima Community College’s (PCC) aviation technology program.

The PCC Aviation Center is the only facility in the state that focuses on maintenance and repair training for large transport commercial aircraft. The program expects to break ground on the expansion this fall and welcome new students as early as fall 2020.

The funding was part of the Arizona legislature’s $11.8 billion budget bill passed last month. It will allow the college to double the facility to train aviation technology students, dramatically reducing or eliminating the current one-year wait time for students to get into the program. The funding also represents the first funding from the state to PCC since 2015.

Currently, the program trains 125 to 150 students a year in a facility adjacent to the Tucson International Airport. Expansion will allow the college to train 250 students a year, most of whom are expected to have jobs lined up before they graduate.

New system for sharing wage data across states

State education and workforce leaders can now exchange quarterly wage records through the State Wage Interchange System (SWIS).

Wage data available through SWIS — which requires states to voluntarily join the network to access it — includes employer and employee names, Social Security numbers, federal and state identification numbers, wage information and North American Industry Classification System codes.

Florida college’s police department launches drone unit

The police department at Northwest Florida State College (NWF State) has launched of a drone unit, making it one of only four colleges in the nation with an active law enforcement drone team. (See video, below.)

The drone program was the result of a need recognized in the area, said NWF State College Police Chief Aaron Murray. The drone unit can also offer aerial support to other local law enforcement agencies.

“We are looking for ways to save lives and create a safer environment for everyone to live, work and learn in,” Murray said. “As technologies change and become available like drones, we try to utilize them to be better at what we do.”

NWF State College has four FAA-certified pilots and the use of four drones. The drones, or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), are equipped with high-definition cameras, thermal imagers and the ability to attach chemical canisters such as pepper spray to deter suspects, according to the college.

“The drones are utilized for missing persons or for assisting law enforcement with safer searches when suspects have evaded visual contact,” Murray said. “A UAS allows us to get a bird’s-eye view with real-time information helping to identify an individual’s location.”

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.