Reporter’s notebook

  • Senate bill calls to include CTE in federal data
  • Drone-industry education continues to grow
  • A degree in smart building technology

Senate bill calls to include CTE in federal data

A bipartisan bill introduced last week in the Senate would ensure that career and technical education (CTE) is included in federal data to help improve career readiness programs and expand a skilled workforce.

“Too often, technical education is left out of the conversation when we talk about routes to family-supporting jobs, and we need to change that,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), who introduced the Data for American Jobs Act of 2023 along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Todd Young (R-Indiana).

The bill would direct the U.S. Education Department’s Institute for Education Sciences to:

  • Research CTE, including methods most effective for CTE learners.
  • Share research to inform the development of effective curricula for students and faculty.
  • Collect data on the CTE teacher workforce to address training, recruitment and retention.
  • Examine workforce and labor market outcomes to help CTE programs better meet the needs of local employers.
  • Support state efforts to more effectively use education and workforce data to inform policy.

Drone-industry education continues to grow

Programs offering degrees in drone piloting continue to grow at community colleges. Aims Community College in Colorado is the latest college to announce that this fall it will offer an associate of applied science degree in unmanned aerial systems.

Aims, which has offered a UAS certificate since 2021, said in a release that it is the first UAS associate degree offered in Colorado and the 15th two-year college nationwide to offer a degree in the field.

The new degree program will provide students with the basics of flying with professional-level drones and the ability to build and program their own drones in a fabrication and design lab, said Jake Marshall, UAS chief instructor.

UAS systems and applications are rapidly expanding, and companies are eager to hire skilled employees for jobs ranging from mapping construction sites, to filming commericials. According to Aims, market research shows an estimated increase of 100,000 drone-related jobs by 2025, with an average annual salary of $80,000 for a UAS operator.

A degree in smart building technology

Also this fall, Houston Community College (HCC) will launch an associate of applied science degree in smart building technology, which will teach students to integrate the various systems people use daily in homes and offices.

HCC is one of the first two-year colleges in the nation to offer a comprehensive smart building technology program, which is part of HCC Central’s electrical technology program in the Architectural Design and Construction Center of Excellence.

“This program is both cutting edge and down to earth,” Walter “Matt” Adams, instructor and program coordinator for HCC’s electrical technology program, said in a release. “Some of the systems students will learn to integrate include audio/visual systems, energy management, lighting controls, security cameras, burglar and fire alarm systems, retail and grocery store automation, medical automation and more.”

Smart building technology “integrators” usually start at an annual salary of $50,000 and can eventually earn up to six figures with experience and additional education, Adams said.

An illustration of technology comprising a smart building. (Courtesy of CEDIA)

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.