Piedmont Community College (PCC) gathered input from students, employees, and community members at last week’s strategic planning kick-off event, held on both campuses. Guest speaker Derald Wise of Booz Allen Hamilton also engaged the audience with details about immersive and emerging technologies relative to education, rural North Carolina, and the future of business.

Wise speaks in Person CountyAn Army veteran, Wise is currently a Senior Lead Technologist at Booz Allen Hamilton in Raleigh, NC. He spent time on PCC’s Caswell and Person County campuses discussing areas of technology and how its growth relates to education and employment, both now and in the future.

Noting that immersive technology currently plays a role in every industry, from cosmetology to law enforcement to healthcare, Wise stressed the importance of being prepared to work in an environment that is ever changing and expanding.

At Booz Allen Hamilton, an organization with over 100 years of experience in solving challenges in the public and private sectors, Wise has used his background to create simulation training for the Department of Defense. Some of his co-workers employ emerging technologies to create performance optimization in the areas of healthcare, law enforcement, aircraft training, marketing, to name a few.

During his presentation, Wise also reminded students that this technology is “part of everyday life and it doesn’t matter what discipline you select…Immersive technology is visual in nature, making it is valuable to industry and no industry in untouched, including companies such as L’Oréal, Lowe’s [Home Improvement], and various of car manufacturers.”

Wise went on to share that there are five generations to consider when working on product development, and that targeting just one is not going to lead to success. “Empathy is an important quality,” he shared, “Changing our mindset to deliver products that build a better community will be key.”

After Wise spoke with the participants, Caprice Lengle, Executive Director, PCC Foundation, indicated that PCC and BAH are creating a relationshipExecutive Director of the PCC Foundation, Caprice Lengle with Derald Wise that will open the door for internships for PCC students. “PCC is creating strategic partnerships to ensure every student has the opportunity to complete work-based learning in their program of study. This opportunity with Booz Allen Hamilton will give PCC students the chance to work in real world situations that will better prepare them for the future,” she stated.

The second portion of the kick-off was focused on planning for the College’s 10-year strategic plan. Michele Mathis, Director, Research and Institutional Effectiveness and a leader for PCC’s Strategic Planning committee, asked those in attendance to consider how the College has grown over the last nearly 50 years and how we may change moving forward.

“Consider two main topics: technology and student success as it relates to completion rates,” she said. Areas of focus the committee will review, with input through focus groups both internal and external, include:
• Impact programs the College will offer;
• Job disruption due to technology and how that changes what PCC offers or teaches in various programs of study;
• Jobs in our community and how they will change;
• Where students need to be in 2030.

Audience at Caswell County presentationCurrent changes and opportunities were shared, indicating how the College is currently ensuring programs are offering relevant hands-on and classroom training, such as an updated science lab on the Caswell County Campus, partnerships to create the Center for Education and Agricultural Development (CEAD), and plans for an Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

Mathis also shared information from “MyFutureNC” and the forecast that in 2030 two million skilled workers with a degree or credentials will be required. “If predictions are correct, this means the State will be 400 thousand people short. PCC and other community colleges, along with the North Carolina Community College System, are working on solutions. PCC will incorporate these solutions into our upcoming strategic plan.”

“We are also focused on improving graduation rates across the State of North Carolina, and addressing the inequities for students from differing demographics.” This has been a focus for PCC and the College has incorporated the Transition Center, First Year Experience program, TRiO program, and AVISO software to serve new and returning student in a more personal and effective manner.

Guest speaker Derald Wise closed the session with a reminder: prepare the students so they can compete. He stressed the need for networking and noted, “Students need to make an investment in themselves and community colleges need to invest in their students.”

Photo: Photos from the Strategic Planning Session

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