HLC Self Study
Chapter 7 Graphic

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Due to dedicated resources and partnerships with external entities, students in certain occupational programs have access to resources and sites that fulfill industry requirements and support learning using the most state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

Estrella Mountain and SouthWest Skill Center students use simulated lab space at the College and work onsite at hospitals for the assisted nursing, practical nursing and registered nursing programs. The emergency medical technology program (EMT) provides onsite student learning experiences at EMT companies, while students in the fire science program work at local fire stations. Students participating in the Administration of Justice Studies (AJS) program work at local law enforcement agencies and students in Education (EDU) programs work with local educators in K-12 schools. Business (BUS) students who receive certification through their Accounting-Income Tax Preparation (ACC121) course work have helped prepare tax returns as part of an Income Tax Preparation Internship.  Students in the Power Plant Technology program and the Radiation Protection Technology (RPT) program work at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. Figure 58 outlines examples of community partners’ respective alignment with Estrella Mountain and SouthWest Skill Center programs.

Figure 58

Career and Transfer Center

The College’s recently expanded Career and Transfer Center provides Estrella Mountain and SouthWest Skill Center students with assistance as they prepare to take the next step of either transferring to a university or entering the workforce. A Manager of Internships works closely with the College’s Career Services Department to recruit, develop and implement internship opportunities with local, national and international corporations, private agencies, governmental entities, and nonprofit organizations. The Manager’s operational duties include monitoring the internship program as well as developing and maintaining a database system that tracks internship participation. During the spring 2011 semester, 11 students were placed into internship positions within the West Valley community.  Examples of such positions include a Maricopa County Democratic Party Campaign Coordinator and a Graphic Designer for a local magazine.

Business Retention Internship Program

Through an innovative internship program, Estrella Mountain students now play a role in the economic development of the West Valley. The Business Retention Internship program is a collaborative effort between the College, the West Valley Chamber of Commerce and the cities of Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, and Tolleson. Established in fall 2009, the program aims to help West Valley cities retain current businesses while students learn valuable skills. The internship program directly impacts West Valley communities by addressing critical business and economic needs and provides students with relevant and practical pre-professional business experience. To date, Estrella Mountain students have interviewed over 150 businesses. The Business Retention Internship program was formally recognized with a regional WestMarc Best of the West Award in the Service to Community category.  

S-STEM and STEP Internships

Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) are two programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that encourage student participants to apply for summer internship opportunities in STEM areas. Estrella Mountain faculty mentors are assigned to each program and assist students in applying for summer research internships in academia, government or industry to receive meaningful information about, and validation of, their career choice in a STEM field. Estrella Mountain students have been accepted to many summer internship opportunities throughout the U.S., including programs at the Yale School of Medicine, the Stanford School of Medicine, the Los Alamos National Laboratories, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Arizona Department of Transportation, and numerous research universities.  During summer 2011, students were selected to participate in the following internship opportunities:

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Spectroscopic Analysis of Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Project
  • Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station: Summer Internship
  • University of Washington: Summer Medical and Dental Education Program
  • The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology: Sensing and Processing in the Six-Protein “Brain” of Bacteria
  • North Carolina State University: REU Project: Engineering the Grid

NASA Center for Success in Math and Science

In keeping with its mission, the College provides unique opportunities for students to apply and expand their knowledge and professional competencies. During summer 2005, the Estrella Mountain NASA Center’s Achieving a College Education (ACE) program launched a partnership with the City of Avondale Grants Office and Engineering Department to create an innovative project and experience for students. The College, along with the City of Avondale, developed a team-based project that involved creating a map of bike and pedestrian trails, points of interests and metro routes for the West Valley cities of Avondale, Tolleson, Litchfield Park, and Goodyear. The map was then printed and distributed for public use.