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

Our first year together has seen EC3PA finding its rhythm and forming a solid foundation on which to build and grow.  Our next steps involve expanding to provide more of the kinds of programs that our students and our community need as we keep our eyes on the future.  I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that we would be adding more degrees and certificates to our offerings here at EC3PA, and I’m excited to share the latest additions coming our way.  These five new program pathways were approved by the Board of Trustees at its April meeting, and all will begin with our Fall 2022 semester.  

Choosing which programs to add and where to grow are decisions that we have not made lightly; we have based our programmatic decisions on need, opting to choose first the kinds of programs that our community needs most.  Workforce development is a promise that EC3PA has made to Erie County; we remain committed to helping to create a skilled workforce that will further invigorate the county’s economic vitality.  

First, we’ve added an Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice. This degree program focuses on both policing and corrections, and it involves study of the law, social sciences, and criminology in its coursework requirements.  Upon completion of the degree, students are prepared to apply to police academies, work as corrections officers, or work in ancillary criminal justice fields like victim’s rights agencies, juvenile, or the like.  These students may also opt to transfer to a four-year institution to further their studies in the criminal justice field.

For those not looking to earn a two-year degree, EC3PA has created a Certificate in Corrections Information.  This certificate develops practical and professional knowledge and skills within the correctional field and, like the AAS degree, involves the study of the application of the law, social sciences, and criminology in its coursework requirements. Its classes prepare students for entry-level careers in corrections and for other employment opportunities within the correctional system and can be completed much quicker than the associate of applied degree.

In addition, we will offer a Certificate in CNC Operator/Programmer Information, which will train students to produce components by programming, setting up, and operating a computer numerical control (CNC) automated machine. Students will work with various materials while learning to adjust machine settings, testing, and comparing finished products, and they will learn how to document the production of parts and materials as well.  This certificate will prepare students to seek entry-level employment in the precision manufacturing industry, to seek advancement or retraining opportunities, and to broaden their skills through specialized education and training.

Our next new offering is the Certificate in Industrial Maintenance Information. This certificate prepares students to become proficient in assembling, installing, troubleshooting, repairing, and modifying machinery and automated systems in the manufacturing industry.  This certificate will prepare students to enter the manufacturing space as a facilities maintenance mechanic, as a machine mechanic, as a maintenance mechanic, as an industrial machinery mechanic, or to assume a similar role.

Finally, we will be adding a Certificate in Automated Electrical Systems. This certificate is designed for individuals currently employed with the Industrial Maintenance field and offers them the opportunity to work specifically with the Allen Bradley SLC 500 Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Students will be trained to identify and repair issues within the Allen Bradley 500 using advanced programming skills and, upon completion, will be positioned to work in facilities that use the Allen Bradley 500 PLC to operate machinery.

I’m incredibly eager and excited to deploy these new programs and to welcome a wider swath of Erie County learners to EC3PA.  Our commitment to workforce development is a strong one, and this is a significant expansion for us — one of many more to come!