GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 154-8
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM


MROFKA, David D. and WALKER, Becca, Department of Earth Sciences and Astronomy, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA 91789

Little to no growth in community college enrollment is expected in the coming years (Smith, July 21 2018, Inside Higher Ed). As the economy strengthens, strategies for engaging and retaining students in the geosciences may benefit from investment in career and technical education programs. Mount San Antonio College (Mt SAC) is a large, single-campus community college (60,000+ total enrollment) in the Los Angeles area. As “change agents” in the Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education at 2-Year Colleges project (SAGE2YC; NSF-DUE) the authors were given the motivation for change in their teaching, promoting change within their department, and creating change within the institution. As a strategy to engage more students in the geosciences, we have begun developing a “Geotechnician Certificate” program as part of the college’s, and the state of California’s, significant investment in career and technical education. Students obtaining the Geotechnical Certificate will increase their chances of entry-level employment with local government agencies as well as private firms specializing in water resources and quality, engineering geology, petroleum resources, environmental hazards and remediation. Because a significant component of the program will be work experience with local firms, students from traditionally underrepresented and underserved groups will have opportunities for employment at firms and agencies that require geotechnical skills and are a part of their local communities. We will discuss diversity at our college and in our program, accomplishments to date on the certificate, challenges related to implementation and buy-in from stakeholders, and progress in creating a network of local employers for students who have completed the program.