Notes from the President

Chris Gray, Ph.D. | Founding President, Erie County Community College of Pennsylvania 

My focus here in the blog to date has been on the ways in which EC3 serves our students in attaining a degree or preparing to transfer to a four-year institution.  Our credit coursework covers those students, and we continue to expand our offerings on the credit side.

Community colleges likewise offer non-credit courses.  By definition, these are short-term classes offered through our workforce development office. Unlike credit courses taken for degree attainment or transfer, these courses are intended for students who are looking to gain general knowledge and/or upgrade their skills. Upon conclusion of a non-credit course, students may request a certificate of completion from the College.

It’s important to note that these non-credit classes, as their name implies, are not applicable toward a degree and likewise cannot be used to earn transfer credit.  More information about the differences between credit and non-credit offerings can be found here.  They are an important addition to our curriculum and commitment to serving all of Erie County’s educational needs. 

Recently, EC3 offered a non-credit welding program.  The idea here was to offer a program specifically designed to introduce attendees to some basics of welding:  oxygen-acetylene welding, cutting and brazing, and shield metal arc or “stick” welding (SMAW).  This was an absolute beginner course, and no previous experience was required.  Upon conclusion of the course, attendees were able to weld SMAW in various positions on steel to the standards of the American Welding Society (AWS) and also had an opportunity to test for AWS D1.1 certification with a Certified Welding Inspector.  It was basically an introductory crash course in welding basics that students earned over seven weeks.  What a fantastic opportunity this was, and we can’t wait to do more!  In fact, in welding, we will continue to offer individualized welding training for organizations and businesses; we can customize training in various areas of welding (STICK, MIG, and TIG) as well.  

In addition, we recently offered a non-credit Primary Aerobic/Group Fitness Instructor Certification program.  In this course, EC3 collaborated with AAAI/ISMA, an international group fitness certification organization, to create a seven-hour program that helped attendees learn the core tenets of teaching group aerobics and step aerobics classes — from warmup to cooldown.  It also prepared them to take the required written and practical exams necessary to become a fitness instructor. 

Mini courses like this are so important to our Erie County workforce; the ability to brush up on skills or learn new ones in a short time can be pivotal to a career, and we plan to expand our offerings in this area.  In fact, we are planning to offer courses in these areas in the near future: fiber-optic installer training, financial planning, financial literacy, and basic computer skills. We’ll even begin to delve into the arts with workshops in areas such as woodworking and welding art. And of course, we’re open to opportunities to partner for skills training with different industries as well!  I recently interviewed with our local news to chat about the ways that Governor Shapiro’s allotment of state funding will be helpful to us as we work to secure more funding for expansion such as this.  This is another important step for EC3 and our community!