Rail passenger service is moving forward quickly as well. The United States
has fallen behind other countries in
high-speed rail technology and implementation. However, in October of last
year, USDOT awarded $2.4 billion for
planning and construction of intercity
passenger-rail service, with 54 projects
in 23 states. The United States is moving full-speed ahead toward a nationwide high-speed rail system.
The New Green Economy
“Green-collar” jobs and integrated
environmental interest in more traditional transportation disciplines, such
as engineering and project management, will be big growth areas throughout the 21st century. With the eventual
depletion of the world’s oil reserves and
growing evidence of climate change,
the demand for clean energy and sustainable community solutions will continue to grow. The “greening” of our
economy will necessitate significant
changes to the American workforce.
With this focus on “green” will come
a greater emphasis on communities
designed for enhanced quality of life.
The transportation sector offers some
of the most exciting opportunities for
workers to address critical issues of our
time: climate change, resource conservation, and energy use. Transportation
accounts for nearly 28 percent of the
energy we use, whether it’s in delivering goods or services or simply helping
us get to where we need to go.
Community Colleges and
Community college students can
make a significant contribution to the
transportation workforce. Community
colleges can prepare students for trans-
portation careers that require technical
and two-year degrees and provide a
gateway for students to four-year and
postgraduate work. President Obama
has referred to community colleges as
the “21st-century job training center.”
Legislation to fund the nation’s
highway program, the Safe, Account-
able, Flexible, Efficient Transporta-
tion Equity Act: A Legacy for Users
(SAFETEA-LU), provides for a Trans-
portation Education Development
Pilot Program (TEDPP) to develop
transportation curriculum and edu-
cation programs at all levels. Funding
is limited to $300,000 per year for
each of the four years of SAFETEA-
LU funding, and the grants are
awarded to “institutions of higher
education.” The Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) specifically
requests proposals that focus on the
role of community colleges in trans-
portation workforce development.
ROBERT BERTINI is deputy administrator
for research and innovative technology
administration at the U.S. Department
“The aviation industry, like other
industries, is facing a future shortfall
in skilled technicians as the workforce
ages,” says Gibson Morris, liaison for
special projects in the office of the
president at Mid-South.
The college will use a $3.4 million
grant from the U.S. Department of
Labor to establish the program. Funding for the program comes from the
American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009, or the Recovery Act.
The college partnered with FedEx,
the shipping and logistics giant, which
supplied a training aircraft, tooling, and
test equipment. FedEx has developed
a co-op program that will let students
gain industry experience while they’re
still in school, Morris says.
“The goal of all this is to reduce the
time it takes to produce a technician
who is capable of working on the flight
line,” Morris says.
At South Seattle Community College
in Seattle, an Aviation Maintenance
Technology Program provides the
training and skills students need to become aircraft maintenance technicians.
Students who complete the two-year
program are certified to take the FAA
Airframe and Power plant exams and
then go on to work on any aircraft in
the world, says Malcolm Grothe, executive dean, Professional & Technical
Programs, at South Seattle.
There are usually about 100 students
enrolled in the program at any given
time, and it graduates about 40 people
each year, says Morris.
Experts say transportation programs
such as the one at South Seattle and
other colleges fill an important and
growing economic need.
“Across the workforce lifecycle—
from attracting new entrants, to hiring
and retaining the best qualified, to
transferring knowledge to the next
generation—the challenges facing
the transportation industry require
significant, sustained attention,” DOT’s
(Continued from page 32)
BOB VIOLINO is an education and technology writer based in Massapequa, N. Y.
34 COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL December 2010/January 2011