Pima to invest $45 million into the future


Looking west at the remnants of the Fortuna’s Inn Property

Pima Community College plans to invest $45 million to open new a Center of Excellence for applied technology near the Downtown Campus. The new facility will be built over the Tucson Inn Motor Hotel. The facility will be funded using revenue bonds.

With new partnerships from industry leading companies, Pima is planning on investing more time and money to better fit current industry needs.

“I want to make sure Tucson and the state of Arizona is a great place to not only live and work, but also raise a family, and the only way to do that is with access to jobs.” said Lee Lambert, chancellor of Pima Community College.

Pima Community College also plans to update the current Welding, Automotive and Mechatronics programs, while also implementing new programs at Pima specializing in Heavy Equipment and Robotics.

“If we’re going to pursue this, at what standard should we pursue it? At a standard of excellence. We want to be best in class, and that’s where all the aspects of the new Center of Excellence come into play. We have to keep the bar high.” said Lambert regarding Pima’s role in accommodating to industry demand.

Pima plans on implementing programs that can accommodate to industry leading companies such as TuSimple, the artificial intelligence company testing Autonomous driving trucks here in Arizona for potential use in the market.

“They’re already testing in this community; If that’s the standard companies are operating at how can we prepare students for that standard? If Pima doesn’t do it then who will?”

Pima CC also plans on partnering with new institutes such as ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) from Pittsburgh, PA in order to “Accelerate the advancement of transformative robotic technologies and education to increase U.S. global manufacturing competitiveness.”

“The Center of Excellence requires partnerships such as these in order to truly become the best in class in a robust and big way.” said Lambert

Other potential partners Pima is looking toward is the National Coalition and Certification Center, FC Chrysler, and Snap-on Tools.

However, Pima has already begun work on new partnerships. Pima has already begun partnering with companies like Ccaterpillar by enrolling 24 Caterpillar Mining and Technology engineers into new welding and machining courses. Caterpillar is also planning a new 20-week welding and machining  training course for their engineers at the Downtown Campus.

“Caterpillar values its relationship with Pima and anticipates enrolling more of its engineers in future course offerings to support a long term relationship.” Said Caterpillar.

“The new courses with Pima were designed to give our employees the opportunity to further develop hands on technical skills.” Said Caterpillar.

Both Pima and Caterpillar are working closely in the K-12 sector. While Pima is planning on partnering with local high schools by offering space in the new Center of Excellence, and training with faculty. “Caterpillar is interested in developing the future workforce…Caterpillar is already involved with K-12 education partners, to include, but not limited to Junior Achievement, and First Robotics.” sSaid Caterpillar.

“If high schools don’t necessarily have the equipment or space, they can come here, and we can partner that way,” Said Greg Wilson, Dean of Applied Ttechnology at Pima.

“Tucson High and Desert View have great programs but now faculty can train with theirs in order to better accommodate industry demand as a whole.” sSaid Wilson.

“When registration opens at midnight, welding classes are typically full by 12:30. We just don’t have enough space to accommodate everybody, and we now have an industry that needs welders.” Said Greg Wilson, Dean of Applied Technology at Pima.

Governor Doug Ducey has also expressed interest within Pima’s new plans. “Ducey has supported the new project not only with physical presence, but working with school systems…Ducey has supported Mechatronics development via the ‘Arizona Advanced Technologies Corridor project charter.’” sSaid Wilson.

Pima is also currently researching current economic trends for future workforce development. The school is looking closely to see where the new potential partnerships and classes are headed.

“this goes beyond just referring to a month-to-month labor market report. Rather, it involves long term projections and trends in relation to the industry itself, the strengths of our region, where the best jobs for students are, and what programs will allow students greater access.” Said Ian Roark Vice President of Pima’s Workforce Development.

“Over 45 percent of all jobs within the U.S. can be fully automated…We just simply don’t have the systems to do it yet…This doesn’t mean that 45 percent of the country will lose their jobs, but it does mean the nature of work itself will change,” said Roark.

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