Smart Choices

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CCAC_smart_choices2Growing career opportunities in the science, technology, engineering & math fields

Individuals who are looking for a career that is interesting, rewarding and offers the potential for growth and financial security may find their future in STEM. Good careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, popularly known as STEM, are waiting—and their numbers are growing.

Information technology, biotechnology, engineering and computer forensics are just a few of the fascinating careers in STEM fields, all of which are built on a solid foundation in math and science.

Increasingly, society relies on math and science in ways not imagined a few short years ago. Advances in medicine and research lead to improvements in health and everyday living. Innovations in technology improve work efficiency and communication on a global scale.

“STEM is the wave of the future,” said Mary Frances Archey, EdD, vice president for Student Success and Completion at CCAC. “The opportunities of tomorrow are going to be in these fields.”

STEM grows jobs & salaries

A strong background in math and science opens doors to higher-paying jobs and greater opportunities, and jobs requiring STEM skills are growing five times faster than others. According to a 2012 congressional report, people who work in STEM fields earn 26 percent more than those who work in non-STEM fields.* In addition, women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than women in non-STEM occupations.**

micro-sc“Women should consider STEM-related careers because these are rapidly growing fields that provide women with a number of opportunities for advancing professionally,” Archey said.

CCAC offers a wide variety of STEM certificates and degrees. Certificate programs help students develop the skills and knowledge needed for entry-level positions. Associate degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level employment as well as the opportunity to transfer to a four-year school to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Eight STEM transfer programs offered by CCAC correspond to specific majors at four-year institutions, giving students a more affordable path to earning a higher degree.

“STEM is the wave of the future. The opportunities of tomorrow are going to be in these fields.”
—Mary Frances Archey, EdD, vice president for Student Success and Completion at CCAC

In addition to affordability and small class sizes, many transfer students begin at CCAC for the quality instruction. According to Archey, all CCAC STEM classes are taught by faculty fully credentialed in their area of study, many of whom have direct industry experience.

“The quality of education at CCAC is equal to or surpasses that of a four-year institution where classes are often taught by graduate students who are working on their own degrees. CCAC students, who are only instructed by credentialed faculty, receive an exceptional education at a fraction of the cost,” she remarked.


New STEM program!

New this spring, CCAC is offering both Associate of Science and Certificate Cybersecurity program options at all four campuses. The industry-driven program prepares graduates to enter the dynamic and growing field of information security.

Cybersecurity analysts play a vital role in planning and carrying out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems from hackers who seek to wreak havoc and steal sensitive information. The federal government is expected to greatly increase its use of cybersecurity analysts to protect the nation’s information technology systems.

Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 37 percent from 2012 to 2022.***

For further information or to enroll, contact, visit or call 412.237.3100.

*Source: Joint Economic Committee Report, April 2012.


Student Success Story
Returning student prepares for a bright future in engineering

Ashley Harper

Ashley Harper

Ashley Harper was looking for affordability and convenience when deciding on a college to pursue her goal of becoming an engineer. She found that, and much more, at CCAC.

After attending an out-of-state, private college, she returned home to recuperate from an illness—bringing with her major student loan debt. Deciding to stay closer to home when she resumed her studies, she found that CCAC South Campus met all her needs.

“The programs of study that CCAC offered really appealed to me,” Harper said. She likes the flexibility of being able to take classes in a broad range of engineering disciplines, and also enjoys the individual attention and the accessibility of instructors at CCAC.

“The professors I’ve encountered are available 24/7, which is vital to an engineering student,” said Harper. “CCAC provides a learning-friendly environment. There’s not a ton of pressure, but there is a lot of encouragement.”

In the past, Harper never considered herself a stellar student, but she has made the Dean’s List every semester and has felt comfortable and confident since she started at CCAC. The classes are “definitely challenging,” but the professors make themselves available whenever she has a question.

“I have found the professors to be so knowledgeable,” Harper remarked. “I think a lot of their passion comes from wanting to see their students be successful.”

Upon earning her associate degree in Engineering Sciences, Harper’s goal is to transfer to the University of Pittsburgh and earn a BA in Engineering, then certification in nuclear engineering. Ultimately she would like to work for the Department of Energy in nuclear design or safety.

“I feel like I’ve really been able to shine at CCAC,” said Harper, a busy mother of a preschooler. “The best thing is that the faculty and staff are always available to help you, whatever your goal may be.”

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