The Common Ground

Grossmont College welcomes public to Career Academy Week

Posted on: Jul 11, 2019 12:00:00 AM
In: District, Grossmont
Contact: Della Elliott


Making learning cool is what’s behind Grossmont College’s Career Academy Week, a three-day event featuring speakers, demonstrations and a new mobile lab where visitors can try their hand at virtual welding, as well as programming and flying drones.


Three industry tracks will be featured – information technology on Tuesday, July 23; culinary arts on Wednesday, July 24; and entrepreneurship and drones on Thursday, July 25.  Career Academy Week takes place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day at the Main Quad. Organized by the college’s Career Technical Education and Workforce Development Division, the first-time event is free and open to adult members of the public. Campus tours will also be provided. To RSVP for the event, go to


The three tracks were selected because they are high-demand career fields with a healthy jobs outlook, said Javier Ayala, dean of Career and Technical Education/Workforce Development. Students and the community are encouraged to attend all three days to explore a variety of careers and to hear about work-based learning options such as apprenticeships, internships and job shadowing.


Mobile lab unveiling


With community colleges as the nation’s leading provider of workforce training, Ayala said Grossmont College is focusing on building programs and partnerships to address workforce trends such as the decreasing numbers of high school graduates ready to take on jobs in manufacturing or the construction trades. Grossmont College recently began an alliance with Ironworkers Local 229 to launch a new pre-apprenticeship program for jobs in ironworking. The pre-apprenticeships are designed to provide trainees an opportunity to learn about the field and to get acquainted with ironworking before committing to the full-fledged, paid apprenticeships which typically take four years to complete.


The college is counting on a 27-foot $150,000 mobile lab – officially called the Pre-Apprenticeship Mobile Lab -- to help spread the word about unique offerings such as the ironworkers’ pre-apprenticeships and another recently launched program in drone technology.


Garnered through a $410,000 apprenticeship grant awarded by the state in 2017, the eye-catching lab is painted in vivid Grossmont colors with contrasting images of ironworkers plying their trade. It will travel to high schools, career fairs and outreach events throughout the county.  As a recruitment and educational tool, it’s been customized to the hilt with dedicated Wi-Fi, five high-definition monitors, 20 laptops, drone kits and three Vrtex Mobile virtual reality welding machines. The machines manufactured by Lincoln Electric replicate real-life welding without the hazardous heat and sparking and the expensive metals, wires and waste.


“It’s an exciting virtual reality environment,” Ayala explained as a small group of students slipped on the helmets with face-mounted displays and used the faux welding tool to practice. “These machines are used to augment training.”


Monitors and speakers emit realistic sounds and sparks and real-time feedback to provide a stimulating, hands-on training experience in MIG, TIG and Flux Core welding. The entry-level welding training system allows students to try welding in a safe, virtual environment with realistic graphics that mimic settings like a military base or a motorsports garage.


“It was really cool,” said psychology major Justin Rapolla. “I can see that younger students especially, will learn a lot more because they’re having fun. It’ll be second nature to students who’ve grown up playing videogames.”


Coding is another career that will be covered at the Career Academy Week event and employment data shows why. Seven million job openings in 2015 were in occupations requiring coding skills and programming jobs overall are growing 12 percent faster than the market average, according to a 2016 report from Burning Glass, a job market analytics firm.


Drone kits also will be provided, as well as laptops, to teach users how to program and fly Parrot Mambo quadcopter mini-drones. Drone enthusiasts can also see demonstrations July 25 by students in Grossmont College’s popular drone technology program.


Grossmont College is “Transforming Lives Through Education” and has served the diverse educational needs of San Diego’s East County since 1961. With more than 150 certificate and associate degree programs, Grossmont College provides workforce training, career development and transferable college-level coursework to its nearly 19,000 students.