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An outside image of Pima's Auto Tech Center at Downtown Campus

Centers of Excellence

Pima Community College is committed to advancing economic development in Southern Arizona. In close partnership with business, government and community leaders and stakeholders, PCC developed Centers of Excellence to provide high-tech training and reskilling of both new and incumbent workers and contribute to the overall economic vitality of Pima County and the surrounding region.

The characteristics of Pima Community College’s Centers of Excellence are:

RESPONSIVENESS: Create and deliver in-demand programs and employees, stackable credentials, degrees and certificate programs;

CONVERGENCE: A community hub for open resources, apprenticeships, seminars and forums on thought leadership;

ADAPTABILITY: A high level of professional development, career guidance and real-world experience aligned with the region’s demand.

The Centers will drive opportunities for students and help fuel our region’s economic growth.

Center of Excellence in Applied Technology

Architectural rendering of new automotive Center of Excellence at Pima Community College Based at Pima’s expanding Downtown Campus at Speedway and Stone, the Center of Excellence in Applied Technology features the Automotive Technology and Innovation Center, which opened in 2021, and the Advanced Manufacturing Building, which is scheduled to open in 2023. The Advanced Manufacturing Building will house Automated Industrial Technology (AIT), Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Machining (MAC), and Welding (WLD) programs. The ST building next door will be renovated, allowing the Building & Construction Technology (BCT) programs to expand from 2,000 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft.

Pima trains engineers from Caterpillar, the global heavy-equipment manufacturer. Caterpillar has identified a gap in its engineers’ skill set: they lack real-world, factory-floor fabrication experience. Pima’s remedy is to offer six-week lab-lecture classes, Welding for Non-Welders and Machining for Non-Machinists, that lets the engineers get their hands dirty.

The Automated Industrial Technology (AIT) program is developing a micro-certification for robotics in partnership with the Arizona Advanced Technology Network.

The Building & Construction program is partnering with Trane Technologies to design a living lab that will enable students to program and troubleshoot advanced control systems for heating and cooling. A feature of the partnership is providing students with real-time data to help in the decision-making process.

This program will provide high school students participating in JTED’s partnership with Trane a path to continue their studies and earn additional NC3 certifications for building automation. This expansion will also allow the BCT program to expand its partnership with the University of Arizona for apprenticeships in building control systems.

The Automated Industrial Technology (AIT) and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs have integrated additive manufacturing competencies into several courses. Both programs continue to expand their robotics and 3D printing capabilities.

Integrate the Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) paradigm into Automotive Technology (AUT): The Automotive program is increasing its electrical and electronic competencies, the areas industry has identified as the most important precursors to teaching advanced assist systems.

The Automotive Technology and Innovation Center will feature space for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like Ford, Subaru, and Chrysler.

The Aviation and AIT programs have discussed adding UAV/drone components for piloting and maintenance/repair. These additions will be developed in partnership with industry advisory members to ensure alignment with high-wage careers. The Aviation program serves 150 students and will double its headcount to 300 students over the next few years.

In partnership with Workforce development, the Flexible Industry Training (FIT) lab will feature the advanced manufacturing equipment local employers need their workers trained on, in a professional environment where classes can be scheduled to provide training with any duration and schedule, and is not tied to the academic calendar. The Lab will be flexible to adopt the most current equipment employers are using, keeping pace with the accelerated rate at which local manufacturers are adopting new technology.

Aviation Technology Center

Architectural rendering of new Aviation Technology Center of Excellence at Pima Community CollegeWhile located at Tucson International Airport in dedicated hangar space, the Aviation Technology Center is part of the Center of Excellence in Applied Technology.

Pima Community College is the only Aviation repair and maintenance training program in Arizona that provides hands on training on both commercial and regional jets. The program has a national reputation for excellence, and its graduates are in high demand by employers. This expansion will double the number of new graduates every year, filling openings that would otherwise potentially go unfilled, earning an average of $52,000 per year, and generating payroll revenue to the statewide economy.

Center of Excellence in Health Professions

Pima Community College dental students with simulation mannequin

The Center of Excellence in Health Professions is based at Pima’s West Campus and provides state-of-the-art training in multiple healthcare programs including Nursing, Surgical Technology, Respiratory Care, Medical Laboratory Technology, Dental Studies and more.

The Center of Excellence clusters these integrative programs into a single unit that supports the multiple career pathways our students will access. Funding has been identified to develop high-tech space that mimics a hospital environment.

Already students benefit from technology including iPads that expand learning and understanding through augmented reality and enhanced video. Simulation mannequins allow students to learn and hone skills in a safe and supportive environment before moving into clinical care for actual patients.

The programs are preparing for a future that:

  • Prepares future healthcare professionals to function in a world where technology and medical devices are actively monitoring/measuring chronic illness, including implanted devices.
  • Increases understanding of how technology impacts daily living activities including fitness, health education, tracking of symptoms, and disease management.
  • Preparse future health professionals to provide liaison and coaching support to patients in the work of mobile, wireless, telemedicine, and smartphone applications.
  • Prepares future healthcare professionals to function a world of telehealth and telemedicine.

Center of Excellence in Information Technology/Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity work environment

Located at the East Campus, this rapidly growing program is centered around the Arizona Cyber Warfare Range, the only “live-fire” cyber range at a community college.

The Range is a unique opportunity and partnership. Operated by students and community volunteers, it provides a safe zone whereIT professionals, community members and students alike can safely explore “live fire” cyber attacks and defenses. Students, community members and businesses have the opportunity to test, monitor, and harden the security of all types of technology and IoT devices within the Arizona Cyber Warfare Range and the CoE. This creates a disruptive learning environment, not restricted to virtual simulations, that complements the traditional educational models. We regularly have instructional and participatory events with K-12, Association for Career Technical Education of Arizona, general public and business.

In addition, Pima’s goal is to fundamentally change IT education and provide practical hands on experiences, interacting with the community and workforce. The Center creates this nexus through four primary areas:

  • Student Run Datacenter: The datacenter provides students with an enterprise IT environment incorporating multiple systems, vendors, technologies. Like most data centers today this datacenter expands beyond our physical location into Google Cloud services to give students realistic IT experiences.
  • Cybersecurity Operations Center: The student CSOC provides a facility where students can analyze and monitor threat feeds, and provide response information in real time. Additionally, the AZCWR which is also an Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO), is providing international threat intelligence to Pima from its sources and partners worldwide. This combination makes the Pima CSOC a credible and active threat response resource.
  • Fusion Space: This is an active learning room that accommodates a variety of events ranging from short seminar topics, to class and student activities that range from Capture The Flag competitions, cross disciplinary teaching, to vendor and community collaboration.
  • The Arizona Cyber Warfare Range

Center of Excellence in Public Safety and Security

Firefighters fighting fire

This Center features Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services, the Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice and Transportation and Logistics.

Nationally recognized is Pima’s partnership with the U.S. Airforce to provide Medical Readiness Agency (AFMRA) to train airmen as nationally credentialed Paramedics in an expedited program.

Also, garnering national attention is a partnership with TuSimple. In partnership, Pima created the country’s first certificate to upskill truck drivers in Autonomous Truck operations - Autonomous Vehicle Driver and Operations Specialist Certificate.

Pima Community College also trains the majority of Pima County’s first responders with partnerships that include: 2 law enforcement agencies, 12 Fire Departments/Districts, 6 hospitals and 1 ambulance company.

PCC is also developing and offering the entire Logistics and Supply Chain Management certificate and degree online.

Center of Excellence in Hospitality Leadership

Pima Community College culinary program student wearing chef's jacket and working in kitchen

Designed to support Tucson’s important hospitality and tourism industry, Pima’s Center of Excellence works with industry partners to prepare students for today’s challenges and opportunities.

Combining classroom work with hands-on experiences, Pima’s students are prepared to handle a wide-range of responsibilities and are in-demand by area employers.

The program is using its first Title V grant “Pathways to Hospitality,” a $2.7 million award, to create state-of-the-art facilities featuring three commercial kitchens, a recommissioned grill, a new restaurant and bistro, open to the public, and hotel suite learning labs.

A highlight of the center will be a Demonstration Kitchen and Amphitheater equipped with advanced teaching technology using mobile, cloud, and IOT for virtual, online and augmented learning. The space will provide the ability to hold business and community projects and events.

Center of Excellence in Arts and Humanities

Dance performance at Pima Community College

Pima Community College’s Arts and Humanities prepares communicators and creative and critical thinkers for challenging positions in a wide range of fields.

Featuring beautiful performance space and art gallery space, Pima’s arts students receive classroom and real life experiences.

Arts organizations stimulate business and economic growth. The creative industries throughout the United States employ nearly 3 million people and make up around 4 percent of the nation’s businesses. Each year, non-profit arts and culture organizations alone pump an estimated $60 billion into the national economy.

Moreover, research has shown that cities that emphasize art have more civic and social engagement, better child welfare and even lower poverty rates. 

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