Desert Vista programs use federal funds for expansion

Story and photo by Narciso Villarreal

Programs ranging from avionics to phlebotomy have been introduced at Pima Community College’s Desert Vista Campus, thanks to a federal grant program known as Title V.

The U.S. Department of Education awards Title V grants to colleges such as PCC that have been designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Program goals include improving technology and improving services for Hispanics and low-income students.

“To succeed in the increasingly competitive global marketplace of the 21st century, all Americans must take advantage of opportunities to further their postsecondary studies,” Chancellor Roy Flores said. “Title V grants provide funding for programs that help students achieve their education goals. The result is greater prosperity for everyone.”

Title V grants help fund programs at several PCC campuses. Desert Vista programs include avionics, medical assistant, phlebotomy and early childhood education.

Avionics program

The avionics program started in the spring of 2008 and has since struggled to maintain and recruit new students.

Avionics is a nine-month workforce program that runs from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. daily from March to December at the PCC Aviation Technology Center, located at 7211 S. Park Ave. at Tucson International Airport.

Tuition costs $4,000 but can be paid in five-week installments of about $800.

“We’re one of only 10 avionics schools and the least expensive in the entire country,” Program Coordinator Carlos Romero said.

Students can expect to learn the basics of maintaining, troubleshooting and installing electronic aircraft systems. After students complete the program, they take the National Center for Aircraft Technician Training exam for certification.

Students can earn $35,000 to $45,000 in an entry-level position after they finish the program and become NCATT certified, Romero said. Local employers include Bombardier, Boeing, Cessna, Skywest Airlines and Evergreen.

There is currently a high demand for avionic technicians because employees from the baby boomer generation are starting to retire. Within the next 10 to 15 years, 66 percent of avionics workers will retire, Romero said.

Through June, the program will host an Aviation Technology Orientation and Open House at the Aviation Technology Center on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. During the summer, it will hold sessions twice a month.

Medical assistant program

The medical assistant program is expanding due to high enrollment, community need and higher job demands. Lack of space and equipment are other reasons for the program’s expansion.

The 9- to 15-month program offers online courses to compensate for the lack of classroom space.

The program is in the beginning stages of starting construction for new lab space at Desert Vista. Title V funds will provide $230,000 to build the laboratories and purchase new medical equipment.

Phlebotomy program

Community need and higher job demands have led to introduction of a phlebotomy program at Desert Vista. The two-year program includes laboratory and clinical courses.

This program is also in the early stages of starting construction for lab space.

Early childhood education program

The early childhood education program is currently seeking accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Benefits of accreditation include improving program quality, helping articulation agreements with universities and increasing appeal to students.

The program is currently in the self-study portion of the two-year process, and is changing its course objectives to meet NAEYC standards.

Other plans call for the early childhood education and child development associate degree programs to convert more courses to online. PCC will also use Title V funds to introduce an early childhood special education program.

For more information on any of the programs, call 206-5250 or pima.edu.

Pete Stogsdill, aviation department chair, examines a training control board at the Desert Vista program site.

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