High-Tech Auto Center to Open Near Pima Community College Downtown

By Steve Rivera

New Programs to Train Future Workforce

A state-of-the-art Automotive Technology and Innovation Center will open next spring near Pima Community College’s downtown campus.

The idea for the new center came about in 2014 when administrators saw the need for students to be key players in the 21st century workforce, making the downtown campus a hub for potential hires in Southern Arizona and beyond. The programs will center on advanced manufacturing, automotive technology and building and construction.

The programs will be designed around the concepts of speed, convergence and adaptability: speed in response to current workforce needs and the future of work; convergence for the “disciplines and industry partners,” and adaptability for the needed space and programs for the “changing of industry and learners,” said David A. Doré, PCC president of campuses and executive vice chancellor.

The $12.5 million Automotive Technology and Innovation Center will be situated just west of PCC’s downtown campus. At two stories and 45,000 square feet, the facility will include learning labs, classrooms, student gathering areas, faculty offices and an industry-advisory boardroom. 

 “The Automotive Technology and Innovation Center is a tangible result of the commitment Pima Community College has made to serve our community’s workforce needs, provide students with state-of-the-art learning opportunities, and positively impact the economy of Tucson and the region,” said PCC Chancellor Lee D. Lambert.

The center will host programs in automotive technology, diesel technology and electronic vehicle technology to meet the growing demand of dealerships and other employers for students certified in today’s workforce needs. 

Doré said there is a plan for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to visit as well, including companies like Chrysler, Ford and others “who sponsor programs where we are training specifically for (the OEMs). We have spaces in the buildings for three OEMs.”

The goal is to have those OEMs by the building’s completion in April 2021. Raytheon, Caterpillar and others had the initial input in what the space would look like.

“I tell the students who are registering now (for the future) that they will be able to have (their) classes and be in the building before they graduate,” Doré said. “This will dramatically allow us to increase our capacity to have more students.”

The center won’t be just for students out of high school, but for older students who need “re-skilling” or “upskilling” in technology.

Doré said Pima plays a “critical role” in helping students become more quickly adapted to today’s workforce needs. The new center is another example of Pima’s ongoing commitment to students, the community and industry throughout Southern Arizona, he said.

“This is really an investment into our future,” he said.

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