PCC gets $2.5M grant for Center of Excellence in Applied Technology

PCC gets $2.5M grant for Center of Excellence in Applied Technology
The Automotive Technology and Innovation Center at the PCC Downtown Campus is scheduled to open in early 2021. (Source: pima.edu)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation is giving $2.5 million to Pima Community College Foundation to advance the college’s growing presence as the center of economic recovery and growth in the region.

The announcement came Wednesday morning, Sept. 9, in front of the college’s nearly completed Automotive Technology and Innovation Center at the PCC Downtown Campus. The building is scheduled to open in early 2021.

The Automotive Technology and Innovation Center is the first building in the Center of Excellence in Applied Technology being developed on the campus. Ground breaking on a state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Center on the campus is scheduled for later in 2021.

To support employer demand for high-skilled technicians, Pima also is expanding the Aviation Technology Center at the Tucson International Airport, thanks to $15 million in state funding.

Brown Foundation President Sarah Smallhouse said the foundation members have confidence in Pima’s strategy and leadership.

“The focus on Centers of Excellence, public-private partnerships and expanding the economic vitality of our region through high-tech training and re-skilling of both new and incumbent workers is exactly what our community needs," Brown Foundation President Sarah Smallhouse said. "Pima’s strategic plan has been developed thoughtfully with community partners and is being adeptly implemented by Chancellor (Lee) Lambert and his team.”

The Brown funding will support the purchase of critical training equipment, including components of Cyber-Physical Systems that incorporate computing, networking as well as sensor and data analysis equipment. These systems are found in smart grid, autonomous automobile systems, medical monitoring, industrial control systems, robotic systems and automatic pilot avionics. The grant will allow for expansion of training partnerships such as current partnerships with Caterpillar, TuSimple, automotive dealers, and others.  The college also will create an Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Program, which has growing implications for a wide range of industries, and a Flight, Maintenance & Repair Program for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drone program).

PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert said producing college graduates who are trained in industrial technology is increasingly expensive.

“We cannot build the same classrooms and train on the same equipment we did 10 and 20 years ago,” Lambert said. “The only way the college can afford the facilities and equipment required to develop a competitive workforce is through public-private partnerships with employers, philanthropic organizations, and continued state and local support.”

This gift is the largest single gift received by Pima Foundation, which raises money to advance the college.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.