An article posted on The Atlantic Cities, tells the story of the shutdown of a manufacturing plant and a community colleges unique approach to revitalization in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton was once home to a GM manufacturing plant which is now closed, leading to the loss of some 26,000 jobs. The shut down left many unemployed and the empty buildings a reminder that manufacturing jobs are long gone in Dayton. There is a bright spot on the map of Dayton however. Sinclair, a local community college is taking a new approach to higher education. In summation, the community college has a field of study in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs. The college’s President, Steven Johnson, explains that the UAV training program is part a new educational model, to prepare students for the diversified 21st century economy. Johnson explains that the typical 4 years of college from the age of 18 to 22 doesn’t work for everyone. He sees his community college as a place for ongoing learning and an opportunity for people to return to school to refresh their knowledge and possibly retrain in a new field. This is the new educational model he is calling ‘just in time’ education, paralleling the idea of ‘just in time’ production.
This had me thinking of Bristol Community College here on the south coast. Situated in the struggling economies of the south coast industrial cities, I wondered whether there were any programs available tailored to new technology that may be coming to the region. What I found was similar to that of Sinclair in Ohio. In the new era of green technology and renewable energy, the south coast has been the focus of the wind turbine project, Cape Wind. It seems as though Bristol Community College is prepping its students for ‘just in time’ education as well. The college offers a Mechanical Technology with Wind Power Career Program which contains courses in mathematics, manufacturing and materials. While only one course is offered pertaining specifically to wind technology, the program has many elective opportunities for specialized learning that would prepare students for a career in the wind energy manufacturing industry.
Nearly half of the population of the greater Dayton region, 550,000 people, has taken at least one class at Sinclair. Hopefully residents of the south coast can look at BCC as a place to refresh and retrain as many residents of the Dayton, Ohio area have to Sinclair Community College.