Editor's Note (The VIew From Here)

Good Partners

Build it and they will come. That is the story of the recently opened Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) Northeast Campus. The Northeast Campus is built on an 11-acre site adjacent to the Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix. The design-build project by DLR Group/Architechnology and McCarthy Building Companies included the transformation of existing office, warehouse, hangar and vehicle maintenance shop spaces into a first-class educational environment. Touring the campus and meeting with staff members and their superintendent, Greg Donovan, gave me a renewed appreciation for the value of partnerships — and the value that a career and technical education can provide.

More than 21,000 students from 46 high schools across almost 3,685 square miles are currently enrolled in West-MEC Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. In addition to satellite programs for students at their high school campus, West-MEC currently operates a Central Campus, a Freightliner Campus, Start@West-MEC and the Northeast Campus, and has educational partner campuses at Cortez High School, Glendale Community College and Glendale Community College North, Southwest Skill Center/Estrella Mountain Community College and Maricopa Skill Center/Cutting Edge Style Academy and Northwest Campus.

Other partnerships and alliances include Arizona DES Rehabilitation services, Southwest Skills Center, Sonoran UCEDD and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Association. In addition to equipment and support, Snap-On Corporation has named West-MEC as a certification center for the state and the train-the-trainer conduit for a four-state area. Trane Corporation teamed to establish an HVACR training program and the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station has partnered to establish an Energy Technician training center.

This is a school that offers students a college and career pathway. The proof is in the numbers. The retention rate at the school is between 96-100 percent. The graduation rate for CTE students is 99 percent, compared to a 76 percent graduation rate for all other students in Arizona. On the state standardized math test, 92 percent of CTE students passed as compared to a passing rate of 70 percent for all other students.

In a time when we must focus our energies on partnerships, workforce development, a bridge between high school and college, jobs and student success — West-MEC has done it right. It is a program and campus worth seeing!

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.

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