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Pairing with Pros Proves Positive for PCC

Photos and Story by

by Mark Evertz

Photo: PCC Aviation Science student Caroline Wall is earning her wings with help from Hillsboro Aviation employee Geoff Nelson, who also works as a PCC instructor.

Portland Community College and industry partners in a variety of professions joined forces in advisory committees to create five new programs at PCC this fall: Associate of Applied Science degree in Aviation Science, Building Inspection Technology, Construction Management Technology, Facilities Maintenance, and Gerontology.

When specialists from different walks of life unite with a common goal, great things can happen.

In this case, five great things happened on May 21, when the Oregon Department of Education gave the nod to five new degrees at Portland Community College beginning this fall. With PCC handling the minutia of details involved in creating cutting-edge degree opportunities at the college, business professionals were able to put in their two cents and then-some in advisory committees to make that curriculum relevant in the "real world."

The marriage of educational know-how from educators and keen business sense from employers on the frontlines allowed PCC to provide new degrees in Aviation Science, Building Inspection Technology, Construction Management Technology, Facilities Maintenance, and Gerontology.

The college, its students and many businesses in Oregon are set up to be the beneficiaries.

"PCC knows about college policies and course requirements," said Geoff Nelson, an employee of Hillsboro Aviation and an instructor in the PCC Aviation Science degree program, "and we know about flying and aviation. Coming together has worked really well.

"With Hillsboro Aviation, Horizon Air and PCC, I don’t think you can go wrong with that combination," added Nelson, one of the many advisory committee members who helped craft the curriculum.

Similar comments praising the partnerships and the new programs abound on the eve of fall term 1999.

"The advisory committee provided tremendous input," said PCC’s Tom Gillespie, the Building Inspection Technology program leader and PCC department chair. "That’s been the pleasure in putting this together. They were a competent group willing to put in the extra hours, otherwise, it would have been impossible to do this. I can’t give them enough credit."

Gerontology advisory committee member Gayle Rich was excited about being involved in the process and is eager to see the new program flourish.

"I cannot stress enough how timely this is and how wise a move it is to be one step ahead of the population growth in this age group," said Rich, director of community education for Crestview Home Health Care, an elderly home care service in Portland. "I’m personally excited to see Portland Community College be so progressive in an area that is presently screaming loudly to find good people who have the drive to be in a field that demands adaptability, continuing education and compassion for the older population."

Degree shapers and the diligent committee members responsible for all five of the new degree offerings are hoping the enthusiasm they felt during the formative stage of the process will trickle down to those who matter most the students.

To gauge their program’s potential for success, aviation degree leaders fired up a trial run of the program this summer. Organizers say it received rave reviews and has pilots-to-be taking notice of the new opportunity.

All it took for aviation student Romer Brown was a chance flip through the PCC Schedule of Classes. Brown said he always wanted to fly, but the cost of flying lessons kept him on the ground. With classes, and probably most important, financial aid, at his disposal, Brown said he is now pondering a career as a private pilot.

"That (passion for flying) has been there for years," said Brown, a traffic survey employee by day. "With the financial aid I’m getting, now I can afford to flythe program has been fun and the people at (PCC’s) Financial Aid (Office) were really helpful."

The Aviation Science program is designed as two-year degree geared toward training students like Brown to become qualified professional pilots. Together with Hillsboro Aviation, the Northwest’s largest flight training school, and expressed support from the likes of Horizon Air, Portland’s FlightCraft, Louisiana-Pacific, and others, the PCC aviation degree appears ready for take off. The program will be located at the college’s Rock Creek Campus in Washington County and at Hillsboro Aviation in Hillsboro. (See sidebar below on another aviation opportunity at Rock Creek).

"The PCC program is designed to address the upcoming shortage of professional pilots by working with local employers to meet their skill requirements," said Jonathan Parker, dean of Aviation Programs at PCC, adding that about 50 percent of the 80,000 professional pilots today will retire in the next 10 years. "Meanwhile, airlines are buying more planes and expanding routesthe current number of students in aviation nationally will not keep up with the retirement rate."

To keep pace with that retirement rate and exceed employer expectations, the crafting of the program required some insider knowledge. That’s when Parker and Lyons brought in employees of Horizon Air to sit in on industry advisory committees.

Nelson said when he talks to potential students about the program, the enthusiasm is visible.

"This is going to be a big program," he said. "When I talk to people about the program, their eyes light up."

For more information on the Associate of

Applied Science in Aviation Science degree at PCC, or how to enroll in the program, call the Rock Creek Aviation department at 614-7246, or Houston Hickenbottom at Hillsboro Aviation, 648-2831.

If flying an airplane doesn’t light up those eyes, try any of these new offerings at PCC:

Building Inspection Technology

Portland Community College was approached by local government agencies and the building construction industry to offer an academic program that would both serve as continuing education for building inspectors and to meet part of the requirements for state certification as a building inspector and plans examiner. There is no other program in the Portland area offering these courses. The PCC program has already been approved by the State Building Codes office as meeting the requirements for state certification. Call 977-4166 for more information.

Construction Management Technology

This course is designed to develop the technical and management qualifications and life skills to enter the construction management industry. The core curriculum includes construction materials and methods, cost estimating, scheduling, project management, construction safety, structural engineering concepts, construction law, computer applications, and cooperative education and practicum course components. In addition, this program provides cross-training for Building Construction Technology students, current industry owners and workers to improve and enhance their construction management skills. Call 614-7475 for more information.

Facilities Maintenance Technology

Portland Community College was approached two years ago by Intel to develop a new program in facilities maintenance. The specific need was for graduates trained to manage all facilities systems within a specific "clean room" environment. Further investigation by PCC found other businesses and industries needing the same expertise. An advisory committee was formed, and, with a generous grant from the Oregon Economic Development Department, a degree program was developed by PCC faculty members. The new degree program consists of current courses in trade extension, four new courses developed for this degree, and the general education requirements. Call 788-6206 for more information.


Gerontology is an instructional program that describes the study of the characteristics, attitudes, behavior and needs of older people in family settings, assisted living and re-habilitation facilities, nursing homes and other locations. Also taught will be the methods of organizing services for them. The program ncludes instruction in providing dependent

care, serving the physical, social, economical, and psychological needs and concerns of the elderly, related legislation, and the community resources available. Call 977-4288 for more information.

PCC partnership in multi-faceted program aids missionary fliers No stranger to the field of aviation, PCC has offered a two-year associate degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology since the 1970s to prepare mechanics for the aviation industry.

A recent addition to that program continues PCC’s partnership trend, with a recent agreement between Multnomah School of the Bible, Mount Hood Community College and PCC to provide a multi-faceted aviation degree for those called to fly for missionary and other humanitarian organizations. The teaming up of these three institutions will allow graduates to receive an associate’s degree in aviation maintenance, a commercial pilot’s certificate from MHCC and a bachelor of science degree in Bible studies from Multnomah School of the Bible.

PCC has two service hangars on-site at the Rock Creek Campus for these aviation maintenance students.

For more information, contact Jonathan Parker at 614-7246

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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