By Dennis Spear —
After bond Measure C was passed last summer, setting aside about $25 million for the new Oakhurst Community College Center (OCCC), the project is now in early planning stages and College officials are requesting your ideas for instructional programs which will benefit students and the Oakhurst community.
This is a rare opportunity to create a dynamic institution which will provide a central focus for all who live in our area. With this new campus we can establish hands-on academic programs that are recognized for their ability to improve education, local economies and quality of life.
Please complete the linked electronic survey by Friday, April 7, and include any ideas you may have for the new Oakhurst Community College Center. The survey response is a very important step in ensuring we get the programs we need and want for the mountain community!
Below are some ideas to consider that were developed in discussions with community members and research into improving educational outcomes, quality of life, and economic development.
Collaboration with local high schools’ Advanced Aerial Robotics programs
One possibility is a high technology hands-on program oriented around Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM). This could include advanced manufacturing/rapid prototyping with 3D printing and include aerial robotics including Drones/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
This college program would extend and expand on those already in place at local high schools, focusing on a skilled workforce which can develop tools and systems for solving local problems.
Businesses can be created from this skilled workforce and will provide more employment opportunities for a stable economy. Individuals who learn these skills can also apply them in jobs working from home, designing and creating a variety of useful objects ranging from engineered machine parts to works of art.
Building a Makerspace with Oakhurst Branch, Madera County Library
To further enhance our mountain community and OCCC academic programs, our local library can be included in the college plan along with a Makerspace (community co-op shop space). A makerspace can be defined as a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses anything from high tech to no tech tools (Makerspace.com).
The quote below shows that makerspaces are now a state-wide priority in the California Community College system:
“The California Community College (CCC) Maker Initiative may provide a model for community colleges to infuse making, innovation, and entrepreneurship into students’ college experiences while helping them prepare for STEM/STEAM careers with the necessary skills for 21st Century jobs.”
The Oakhurst Community College Center is an ideal candidate for this maker initiative. Due to the somewhat remote location of OCCC, the large geographic area of communities it serves, and the obvious economic benefit to our area, we would stand to gain more from this program than other larger communities with more resources.
Educate, innovate, problem-solve and organize to meet local needs
As a whole, the new Oakhurst Community College campus has the potential to provide us with a center from which we can educate, innovate, problem-solve and organize to meet the needs of our own community, as well as serve as a model for other communities.
Please complete the survey and help our community develop its full potential!
Dennis Spear is a resident of Coarsegold, California