Clark College’s Corporate and Continuing Education division has changed its name to Clark College Economic and Community Development. It’s a move that Kevin Witte, associate vice president, says better reflects the college’s evolving role in the community and the region.
“The real change is to get into bigger projects with partners,” Witte said. “Now we’re engaging more with other organizations to be one of many contributing players. We wouldn’t have done this five years ago.”
Those partners include The Columbia River Economic Development Council, Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council and Vancouver Housing Authority, among others. Recently, the division worked with the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council to develop a 140-hour accelerated machinist program, he said.
Another goal of the renamed division is to train workers with emerging skills — such as advanced composites and mechatronics (mechanical, electronic and software engineering) — that will be needed in the workforce of tomorrow.
The Economic and Community Development division hopes to build a maker center equipped with tools. Essentially, Witte said, it’s “a gym for people who want to make things, people who are looking to start a business.”
The maker center would be open to the public. No other community college in the state has a maker center that’s open to the public, he said.
With a chunk of the skilled population retiring, a maker center is a way to bring in experts who may have retired to volunteer to train people, he said. It’s also a way to give students hands-on experience with science, technology, engineering and math.
“Imagine bringing a middle school student into the maker center to work with retired craftsmen to help them create something,” Witte said. “What a way to get kids interested in STEM.”
Clark College also has formed alliances with other community colleges in the region to be more forward-thinking, Witte said.
As in the past, the division will continue offering customized learning, professional development, mature learning and community education.
It also will continue to expand the number of customized, contract trainings for organizations and individual professional development. It has provided training for regional employers including Insitu, SEH America and WaferTech.
To learn more, visit the division’s redesigned website at http://ecd.clark.edu.