In a display of community college impact on jobs and the economy, representatives of nine CCs put on a far-reaching display Wednesday in Wilson. Tim Wright, president of Wilson Community College, in an email Q&A, talked with WRAL TechWire about the demo of job creation, technology development, and more as part of the North Central Prosperity Zone event.

Central Carolina CC, Durham Tech CC, Edgecombe CC, Johnston CC, Nash CC, Piedmont CC, Vance-Granville CC, Wake Tech CC, and Wilson CC all participated.

  • What in your view was the significance of this event? Why was it important?

Community colleges do more-important things, and play a more essential role in North Carolina’s economy and quality of life, than most people realize.

There is no institution that more economically, more effectively, and more permanently transforms the lives of individuals and their families, often impacting multiple generations.

  • What were among the better ideas and programs presented at the event?

The event wasn’t so much a presentation of ideas as an explanation of how community colleges are important.

For example, about 40% of North Carolina’s bachelor’s degree recipients attended a community college. Of students who transfer at least two semesters’ worth of community college credits to a university, better than 80% of them succeed at that university.

Virtually all North Carolina law officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians receive either their initial certification or required professional development at community colleges.

Community colleges produce about half of North Carolina’s nurses. Community college Small Business Centers help create and nurture hundreds of small businesses across North Carolina every year.

Community colleges create and run hundreds of customized trainings for North Carolina’s businesses and industries every year.

  • Why is it important community colleges work together in order to help meet workforce development needs and opportunities?

The ever-evolving technological skills needed for 21st century business/industry are increasingly likely to be documented by industry certifications rather than by traditional degrees.

The community college system as a whole and the funding model it depends on, as well as individual college programs, are working to adapt to this reality.

  • In what areas do you see Wilson CC as a leader in these efforts?

For example, Wilson Community College recently trained its 6,000th Bridgestone Tires employee. Bridgestone recently installed a totally new manufacturing line, and Wilson CC is training employees for that, too.

Tech demonstrations

The demos presented an interesting mix of various technologies – “mechatronics,” 3D printer, patient simulator, welding simulator, electric line construction truck, pole setting demonstration, an 18-wheeler from a truck driver program, a culinary presentation, and video production technology.

Each of the nine institutions in the North Central Prosperity Zone participated inside and outside of Wilson CC’s Eagles Center.

  • Central Carolina CC: welding simulator
  • Edgecombe CC: mobile patient simulator (for EMT training, housed in a large truck)
  • Johnston CC: truck driving; forcible entry door prop (for law enforcement & firefighter practice)
  • Nash CC: electric line construction truck utility pole installation
  • Piedmont CC: film/video production
  • Vance-Granville CC: mechatronics
  • Wake Technical CC: 3-D printer
  • Wilson CC: Culinary Program provided a variety of delicious hors d’oeuvres