COCC will receive a $750,000 technology sector grant to recruit underserved students

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BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Central Oregon Community College recently received an updated $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help recruit and train underserved students for careers in the expanding technology sector.

The funding will allow the college to recruit low-income, academically talented students with degrees in computer and geographic information systems fields, award 45 scholarships of $10,000 each, and develop new job-related training to better align COCC programs with industry. interests.

Funding will be allocated over the next six years, with $450,000 specifically earmarked for open scholarships for low-income students seeking degrees in Computer Information Systems (CIS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Most students are expected to receive federal Pell aid at the same time, which, in combination with a scholarship, fully covers all tuition, housing and living expenses.

The design of the COCC project includes an improved educational approach. In addition to scholarships, students receive enhanced advising from COCC faculty and enter programs in close-knit groups. Seminars designed by instructors and local employers improve job skills and help students become employable upon graduation.

“This project integrates career development directly into our curriculum,” explained Pat Kennelly, director of GIS at the college. “Technical ‘hard’ skills are developed through faculty and peer-mentoring, while ‘soft’ career skills are developed through employment readiness workshops with local employers and career counselors. Soft skills, such as organizational and collaborative skills, are often cited barriers to employment in the IT industry,” Kennelly said. .

While the project will improve student access to STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — and allow teachers to learn new techniques to improve STEM education, it will foster new strategies and approaches to prepare low-income, underrepresented students for workforce readiness.

Nationally and locally, CIS and GIS disciplines are becoming increasingly relevant to the information systems industry. Data from the state of Central Oregon between 2019 and 2029 indicates that database administrator jobs will grow by 27.3% and network administrator jobs by 23.9%, while web developer jobs will grow by 20.5%. The career forecast estimates that all computer-based jobs, including jobs in the GIS sector, will increase by 11.2 percent over the same period.

For more information, contact GIS Program Director Pat Kennelly at 541-383-7703 or pkennelly@cocc.edu.

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