Pathways - The Magazine of Community College of Philadelphia

Program Showcase

Growing Educational OptionsComplete More Degrees in Their Entirety at the Northeast Regional Center

For many residents, finding time to fit in a college education around work and family schedules is a challenge. In order to expand access to an associate’s degree, the College is increasing the number of complete degree programs offered at the Northeast Regional Center. This growth is made possible by the Center’s new building, which features more instructional space, a computer lab and two state-of-the-art biology labs.

Program ShowcaseStudents can now complete Business Administration, Computer Forensics, Science, and Women’s Studies/Gender Studies degrees at the Northeast Regional Center without attending classes at the Main Campus. Students already have the option to pursue degrees in Culture, Science and Technology and Liberal Arts: General, Humanities, Religious Studies or Social/ Behavioral Science options.

In fall 2011, students will be able to complete the Liberal Arts—Honors option degree at the Center. The Honors program provides motivated students with the skills to succeed in competitive undergraduate and graduate programs. As a community of learners, students learn to be self-reflective about their intellectual processes and understand the role of theory in academic discourse. Advisors guide students through their time at the College and beyond, and every class includes a Web component.

About the Northeast Regional Center

  • Established in 1985; moved to its current location in 1995
  • Approximately 2,800 full- and part-time students
  • New, 60,000 sq. ft. building and renovations to existing building feature sustainable design principles; completed for spring 2011 semester
  • Center offers enhanced student services, more instructional and student space, state-of-the-art classrooms for Music and Art courses; high-tech labs; Wi-Fi  
  • Features the Small Business Center for Education, Growth and Training to address the needs of small- and medium-sized business in Northeast Philadelphia
  • Ample parking is available, and two bus routes lead directly to the Center

To accommodate students, the Northeast Regional Center has been offering degree programs for completion since fall 2000.

“Due to student demand, the College filled this need,” said Susan Tobia, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs.

Students in a few other programs have the option to finish their degrees at the Northeast as well.

“As our online courses increase, it is possible to complete more degrees at the Northeast,” said Tobia. Students who take online courses and traditional courses can earn degrees in Accounting, Applied Studies, Business, Finance and Justice.

With the expansion at the Northeast Regional Center, the College is looking to add more degree programs there in the future, based on student and employment needs.

At the Northwest and West Regional Centers, students can complete the following degrees onsite or in conjunction with online courses: Accounting; Behavioral Health/Human Services (Northwest only); Automotive Technology (West only); Business; Culture, Science and Technology; Finance; Justice; Liberal Arts—General, Humanities or Social/Behavioral Science options; Science; and Women’s Studies.

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Architecture & Interior Design DegreesCore Preparation for Transfer to Bachelorís Degree Programs


Program Showcase

With a robust offering of Architecture, Design and Construction courses and programs, the Architecture and Interior Design associate’s degree programs at Community College of Philadelphia are an ideal place to start on the transfer path to bachelor’s degree programs at Temple, Drexel and Philadelphia universities as well as Moore College of Art and Design.

Earning an associate’s degree in Architecture, Design and Construction at the College and then transferring to a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree significantly reduces tuition costs. The curriculum encompasses a broad range of career-relevant content, such as how a building moves from concept to paper and computerized design to groundbreaking to construction; how this process marries form and function; and how a resulting structure ultimately “works,” both outside and in.

No content area is more career-relevant than the green building design principles which provide a living, vibrant instructional model for our students today. Inspired in the classroom, they can see their instruction there broadly at work in Philadelphia and environs, beginning with the broad adoption of green design features evident in new construction at the Main Campus and Northeast Regional Center. Both locations are expected to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

An integrated understanding of architecture’s core concepts and practices, and its many end-product applications, is essential to participation in any Architecture, Design and Construction program. The Associate in Applied Science degrees in Construction Management, Facility Management or our newest program, Building Science which is scheduled to begin in fall 2011, all embody these key elements.

In Architecture, the curriculum is designed to provide students with strong design skills and technical experiences early on. It is in the design studio that a student acquires design fundamentals while technical, historical and theoretical concepts are being synthesized and applied. Here students build spatial visualization capabilities and develop a design process around their own personal creative vision, employing hand drafting, mechanical drawing and CAD (Computer-Assisted Design). They also learn teamwork, a key component for twenty-first century employment. Their design projects emphasize aesthetic understanding, technical abilities, sensitivity to human needs and awareness of the social consequences of design decisions.

Such decisions will occur as, ultimately, students learn to mold clients’ ideas and aspirations into a reality incorporating user comfort and appearance, safety and systems functionality.. Interior Design students gain their perspective by taking core courses alongside their counterparts in three related fields—Construction Management, CAD and Architecture.  They learn design styles from traditional to the present; guidelines for using lighting and color; freehand, digital, technical and presentation drawing; design of space, color and texture; and how to understand, relate to and satisfy clients.

Both the Architecture and Interior Design programs yield Associate in Applied Science degrees while providing what Architecture, Design and Construction students principally need: a strong foundation curriculum over a four-semester sequence of studio work, at an affordable cost, that transfers seamlessly to four-year institutions, and affords them time to explore options for career specialization.

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Finding Green Solutionsthrough Geographic Information Systems

Opportunities for individuals with skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be found in a variety of fields, including marketing, justice and health care. But most recently, growth is centering around green technology, bringing GIS back to its roots.

“GIS was started to primarily solve environmental problems,” explains Rachel Weeden, GIS adjunct faculty member and interim program coordinator. GIS is a spatial database management system for the capture, storage, retrieval, analysis and display of geographic information. Many types of data can be brought together for display on a map, visually illustrating potential problems or patterns. Communicating information in this way can be more effective and comprehensive for audiences. “GIS makes information more accessible to people,” said Weeden.

GIS is an important tool for urban planning, resource management, natural resource conservation and planning for sustainable development. Specific questions can be answered, such as figuring out the amount and direction of storm water runoff for a proposed building or deciding the optimal location for solar and wind facilities.

“GIS puts the framework of geography into solving problems,” said Weeden. “We have a lot of difficult problems we have to solve.”

Government agencies use GIS in dozens of ways, but Weeden has seen noticeable growth in how local governments are using GIS to develop and implement green initiatives. The programs that are being developed in cities across the country serve as a constant teaching tool for her students.

“I take real-world examples, like what governments are doing, and use them in the classroom,” said Weeden.

Students in Weeden’s classes have diverse backgrounds and interests. “There is a good mix—traditional and adult students, students who want skills for their current job and students looking to make a career change,” she said. The College’s program teaches skills that can be applied to a variety of career areas, including geography, crime mapping, computer forensics and epidemiology, which involves tracking the distribution and effects of a disease. “Most people who have a degree in GIS become GIS analysts, and they look to combine GIS with their area of interest,” said Weeden. Some of her students also seek GIS skills to distinguish themselves in a four-year program.

Last February, students created the new Geospatial Student Club at the College. Weeden serves as the faculty advisor. Students work on projects with community and nonprofit groups, which allows them to practice their skills and receive valuable career experience. For a presentation during the College’s annual Law and Society Week, students mapped foreclosures across the city. Another example is how the club worked with the Committee of Seventy, creating polling place maps that show ward and voting district boundaries. In order for students to gain leadership skills, Weeden encourages members to become club officers.

The future of GIS in the Philadelphia region looks bright. “Local governments probably have the biggest GIS departments. They apply GIS to every service they offer, including water, fire and police departments. There are more and more GIS positions in the private sector to meet demand,” said Weeden.

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Facility Management Program Garners Worldwide Recognition

Last October at the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Architecture, Design and Construction faculty from Community College of Philadelphia and other colleagues stood tall with their peers as the College was recognized as an accredited facility management program. Community College of Philadelphia is the only community college worldwide to receive this accreditation, which was awarded for the full six-year period allowed by the IFMA Foundation. In addition, the College is only the 17th program to be so accredited worldwide, and the first associate’s degree program in North America to receive this recognition.

The Facility Management program has been part of the College’s offerings since 2006. Facility managers plan and manage the building, grounds and systems of businesses and institutions. Often working behind the scenes, they oversee a broad array of activities: planning, management, finance and real estate, design, and building operations issues, including security and communications. They are typically, and increasingly, found in large businesses with multiple locations, such as banking and financial corporations, insurance companies, production facilities, pharmaceutical research and development operations, health care systems, and universities and higher education institutions.

“A facility manager today is often found  at any operation best served by managing and monitoring its own physical plant. Simply, it becomes more efficient to establish a centralized, professionalized in-house capability than hiring outsiders to manage each individual process or installation,” says Miles E. Grosbard, Ed.D., R.A., associate professor of Architecture and chair of the Department of Architecture, Design and Construction at the College. “This fast-evolving profession is ideal for career-minded individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit who possess strong decision-making, problem-solving and communication skills.”

Two specialization areas in the curriculum, the Construction and Design options, both reflect today’s emphasis on green technology and sustainability that can be replicated location to location. The focus for Facility Management in the new economy is to make an existing building more practical and more long-term cost effective to operate, as well as more comfortable to occupy.

The Construction option prepares students for an entry-level position as a facility manager or construction manager. In this role they may oversee the building of new or renovated facilities, the installation of updated systems, or the determination of construction issues related to expansion or new uses, with green technology and sustainability in mind. On the job, they will collaborate with designers and may interact with senior management on multiple real estate issues. They focus on fundamental construction and management issues specific to the building and renovating process, such as the installation of updated systems and finishes, building codes, cost estimating, and scheduling and contracting.

The Design option of the curriculum focuses on the development and design planning for both new and renovated buildings, and prepares the student for an entry-level position as a facility manager, space programmer, space planner or move coordinator. Design skills are utilized in designing renovations, planning expansions and supervising outside design consultants. A curriculum that includes teamwork experience and expertise at communicating design concepts helps students understand the  framework of the design process.

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