Paper No. 18-9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM
DEVELOPMENT OF A GEOTECHNICIAN CERTIFICATE PROGRAM FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS: A POTENTIAL PATHWAY FOR THE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF A DIVERSE GEOSCIENCE WORKFORCE
Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) is a large, single-campus community college in Los Angeles County. Traditionally, Mt. SAC’s geoscience program has focused primarily on facilitating student transfer to 4-year institutions (4YCUs) through student completion of required general education coursework (non-majors); AA in Liberal Studies, Natural Sciences Emphasis (STEM majors); internal and external research opportunities (examples: JPL-SIRI program, Redinger Endowment in Earth and Space Sciences); and field experiences. Until recently, not much attention has been paid to recruiting and retaining Mt. SAC students who wish to enter the geoscience workforce with a 2-year degree. A desire to serve this particular student population; favorable labor market analyses for geotechnicians, petroleum technicians, and environmental technicians (all of which require 2-year degrees); and Mt. SAC’s 2016 funding award from California’s Strong Workforce Program (SWP) have prompted the college to initiate the development of a Geotechnician Certificate. Aligned with the goals of the SWP, Mt. SAC’s proposed Geotechnician Certificate aims to advance career and technical education (CTE) by targeting student success, career pathways, and workforce data and curriculum. We will report on the design, status, and anticipated completion timeline of the Geotechnician Certificate, including the identification of key skills and competencies through surveying local professionals; establishment of an advisory board; program requirements for students; curriculum development; facilities and equipment needs; and assessment. We will also discuss the challenges of merging different work environment cultures (academia, higher education administration and governance, state government, and the public and private sectors of the geoscience workforce) to create a certificate that meets department, institution, and state curricular mandates and prepares students with the technical and soft skills necessary for success in the geotechnical sector and related fields. This Geotechnician Certificate program, as well as other workforce development programs at 2YCs, stands to increase the quantity and diversity of students pursuing geoscience careers upon completion of a 2-year degree.