The Coconino Community College Fourth Street campus is now being branded the Fourth Street Innovation Center to demonstrate CCC’s commitment to contemporary needs of career and technical education and to share innovative educational offerings on that campus.
Additionally, the campus has a new lineup of courses to fill the roster and help students working on associate degrees to meet many of the general education criteria, including composition, math, social and behavioral sciences, arts and humanities, biological sciences and more. Students can fast track their way to a degree or certificate, take classes on their schedule (night and weekend courses), find no-hassle transfer courses with smaller class sizes, brush up on or learn skills or retool for the next career move.
“Our number one priority right now is to engage with our community and try to meet the needs of learning in different venues,” said Coconino Community College President Colleen A. Smith. “The Fourth Street campus was where CCC began, and it is important to us to strengthen our commitment to the neighborhoods of Flagstaff that welcomed us as a community member 25 years ago.”
Construction Underway for iLab
As part of an effort to reinvigorate the Fourth Street Innovation Center, CCC staff is working to outfit an iLab.
“It’s to provide a creative space for students, faculty and community members to innovate and create teachable objects, processes and problem solving,” said Jeff Jones, Dean of CTE Learning Services.
Among topics that people who visit the iLab will be able to explore are robotics, technology, drones, microcomputers, 3-D printing, vinyl cutting, CNC and computer coding.
Jones noticed a need among faculty and students for three-dimensional models for math classes, skulls for anthropology classes, models of parts for business, industry and teaching, and because his office housed the only 3-D printer, he found himself busier than expected.
“I thought, ‘What if they could build their own while learning 3-D technology at the same time to supplement the learning process?” Jones said.
The iLab will also be open a couple of nights a week when the community can access it for free, according to Jones. He added that there would also be opportunities for summer Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) experiences for lower-income students in the neighborhood for no cost.
The iLab is currently under construction, and it is expected to go online in January. Most of the initial investment for the project comes from Science Foundation Arizona STEM Pathways in Rural Arizona (SFAZ+8) grant, a National Science Foundation grant. Jones said he is still looking for funding for training of teachers, students and community members to work or volunteer in the iLab. He can be reached at 928-226-4279 or by email at Jeff.Jones@coconino.edu.
Exploring CCC Space for SBDC
Recently, the state office for the Small Business Development Center in Coconino County had a series of meetings with CCC and the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce and determined that a joint venture between the two organizations would be a great partnership to support SBDC in the county. CCC and the Chamber are currently providing space for the SBDC at the CCC Fourth Street Innovation Center and at the Chamber offices. Both CCC and the Chamber are exploring the feasibility of funding the SBDC through collaborative efforts with community partners. Businesses interested in helping fund the collaboration are encouraged to contact CCC at 928- 226-4217, or the Chamber at 928-774-4505.
The SBDC had previously been a part of CCC since the college’s inception in 1991, but because of financial constraints, CCC stopped hosting the center in 2014. At that time, the SBDC for Coconino County moved temporarily to the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. This year, when NACET decided that the SBDC did not align with NACET’s current mission, CCC and the Chamber offered to help out. CCC officials say even though the financial constraints still exist, collaboration with community partners interested in economic vitality can help the SBDC become sustainable well into the future.
CCC President Hosting Listening Sessions
President Smith is participating in a variety of “listening sessions” throughout Flagstaff and the county to ask residents and business and industry leaders: “If they could have any wish for their community college, what would they like to see?”
“We are proud of the ‘community’ in Coconino Community College, and our mission is to serve all our communities,” Smith said. “We will be reaching out and listening and finding out what kind of educational programs our communities say they need.”
So far, Smith and Kerry Blume, who is working with CCC to enhance community engagement, have participated in several other listening sessions with community members, and more are planned in the near future. Blume has worked in non-profit leadership for more than 30 years and is the former president and CEO of United Way of Northern Arizona.
At this point, the president and Blume have heard from residents about certificate programs, the trades, lifelong learning opportunities, and programs that transition students into four-year universities.
Community groups interested in hosting a listening session with Smith and Blume can do so by contacting April Sandoval at 928-226-4217, or April.Sandoval@coconino.edu. FBN
By Larry Hendricks, FBN
Larry Hendricks is the public relations coordinator for Coconino Community College.
Jeff Jones, Coconino Community College’s Dean of CTE Learning Services, sits in space for the Fourth Street Innovation Center iLab, which is scheduled to go online in January.