Central Arizona College and Sundt Construction, Inc. Receive Award from AACC

by Angela Askey, Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) recently announced the recipients of the 2020 AACC Awards of Excellence during a virtual ceremony. The award categories included: advancing diversity, safety planning and leadership, faculty innovation, corporate partnership and student success.

Central Arizona College and Sundt Construction, Inc. received the Award of Excellence for Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership. This partnership is recognized for achieving multi-year success in providing innovative on campus and workplace opportunities that engage students and employers while advancing economic prosperity and competitiveness of the regional workforce.

In spring 2016, Sundt Construction approached CAC to explore an apprenticeship partnership in heavy equipment operations. To meet the growing needs of commercial construction, CAC worked with Sundt to develop four craft-trade pathways in structural welding, heavy equipment operation, pipefitting and industrial construction technology.

The unique attribute of this partnership is the fact that Sundt and CAC designed every aspect of the courses and programs jointly in fewer than three months. Specific craft competencies and skills needed by Sundt were identified and customized. Tailored academic pathways were offered to students beginning in 2017.

The partnership between Sundt and CAC continues to grow. Sundt hired an industrial carpentry instructor and now has three adjunct instructors at CAC. The college furnishes on-site lab and instruction space, and it has added another professor and a full-time recruiter.

Prior to the partnership, CAC’s program dwindled with fewer than 10 students enrolled annually. Currently, there are more than 300 students enrolled. Since the beginning of the partnership, more than 150 students have graduated from the program with a 100% employment placement rate.

CAC and Sundt have been instrumental in assisting other community colleges nationwide with implementing similar partnerships and programs to address the shortage of an industrial construction technology skilled workforce.