Des Moines Area Community College
With a mission focused on Quality, Service and Affordability, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) is a fully accredited comprehensive college serving a 22-county district in Central Iowa, 26% of the population of Iowa. Through its ten Campus sites and Centers, DMACC serves approximately 37,000 credit and 23,000 non-credit students each year, making it the largest community college in Iowa. Its 153+ academic programs and certificates are centered on the needs of students and businesses, preparing students for immediate employment or transfer to any public or private college or university.
The College has direct consulting and training relationships with area businesses and conducts over 340 active projects annually, ranging from bonded training to short-term skill upgrades and consulting. DMACC is active on the STEMconnector® Innovation Task Force, the Food and Ag Council, and the Higher Education Council, and understands that a focus on STEM transcends all academic program boundaries and forms the core of learning for all great jobs. DMACC is also very active on the Iowa Governor’s STEM Council and Executive Committee.
To increase knowledge of STEM programs and careers, DMACC has formed a college-wide STEM Council to ensure all DMACC students are well-informed about STEM careers and have the opportunity for instruction from highly-qualified educators. Through this Council DMACC has successfully:
Developed an Elementary Teacher Education STEM Certificate with Drake University.
Received an ATF Robotics grant to revise curriculum and support transfer to 4 year degree-granting institutions.
Implemented rigorous math placement to increase student success.
Hosted events to highlight Engineering, Education, Advanced Manufacturing, and Health Science programs.
Developed STEM-focused outreach to emphasize training programs.
Beyond the primary STEM focus embedded within courses, DMACC encourages opportunities for students, staff, faculty, and members of the community to be engaged in STEM activities through active participation in STEMconnector’s Career Accelerator Days. This national campaign is designed to engage and expose students, parents, and teachers to career-focused experiential learning. Through these activities, nearly 100 high school students from four different schools had the opportunity to tour local STEM-focused businesses and participate in a hands-on activity/demonstration at business facilities.
In addition, DMACC hosts an annual STEM Festival with hands-on demonstrations and high school counselor open houses. The College’s 2015 events impacted more than 600 students and their parents, involved participation from nearly 200 representatives from businesses, and impacted nearly 70 educators.Innovative Employer-Driven Pathways & Key STEM Programs
In 2013, DMACC’s Information Technology program areas were redesigned in order to better develop students as business-ready IT talent, possessing the skills sought by regional employers. In order to do this in a systematic and effective manner, four areas of focus were identified:
Creation of the DMACC IT Industry Partnership Board
Membership includes Chief Information Officers and IT Executives from 16 leading central Iowa companies including: Nationwide Insurance, the Principal Financial Group, Casey's General Stores, Holmes Murphy, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Farm Bureau Financial Services, SHAZAM, Workiva, Alliance Technologies, GuideOne Insurance, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance, Keyot, Meredith, Unity Point Health – Des Moines, Technology Association of Iowa and Iowa Communications Alliance. The Board was charged to provide a new vision and strategy for educating local IT professionals, guiding DMACC in creating Diversity in Application Development (DIAD), an accelerated Java Application Development program for women that successfully launched in September 2015. (http://dmacc-diad.com/)
Many of the women enrolled in the inaugural program were incumbent workers from business partner organizations. After the DIAD students become JAVA application programmers, companies plan to promote them into hard-to-fill roles, and afford them the opportunity to move into more challenging and higher-paid positions.
This Partnership is proving successful as 93% of the women enrolled in DIAD were retained in the training program. DMACC will use the same model for the development of an industry-led training program to address Cybersecurity (Spring 2015).
Collaboration to reorganize and dedicate additional resources to IT programming
With support from industry, faculty, administrators, and staff, DMACC has redesigned elements of IT education to ensure increased enrollment and placement. This process included support and commitment from Deans, Directors, and Provosts across multiple DMACC Campus locations. Implementation was completed by a range of cross-functional teams, committed to accomplish:
Organizing course offerings to create a new common core of courses.
Developing a specialized exploratory course that will expose students to all areas of IT programming early on and help them choose their IT major.
Integrating additional offerings in the areas of strategic social media, mobile application development and advanced level industry certifications.
Improving student engagement for those enrolled in DMACC IT programs. Emphasis is being placed on student recruitment, retention, internship and placement.
Adding two new professionals in IT and Student Services - as IT “Pathways Navigators”. This role works closely with prospective and current students to provide strategic support to students on their education-to-career pathway.
Introduction of a $200,000 IT Scholars Program
This partnership between DMACC, employers, and industry-connected associations will allow select students to get paid for on-the-job experiences. Students will also have three-quarters of their tuition paid by initial program partners. After completion of their DMACC degree, students intend to obtain a full-time, benefited position working with the partner company.
Implementation of a Strategic Recruitment Campaign.
In collaboration with our industry partners, DMACC launched a recruitment campaign specific to IT programs. Targets included both high school students and adult learners (diverse and traditional). The tactical campaign used a “superhero” theme to educate potential students on the range of options available for career pathways and training opportunities, illuminating the critical roles within this profession. Thus, a legion of superheroes - The Department of Incredible Things™ was born.
The campaign’s epicenter was an interactive online quiz where potential students visit www.whatsyourpower.com to reveal the super “power” they possess and a potential training focus for DMACC’s IT programs. Digital and social media was used to direct traffic and greatly increased viral sharing. In just three months, the campaign was viewed from 45 different states and Washington, D.C. recording more than 7,000 visits, positively impacting IT enrollment.
Drawing from the success of the IT reorganization, DMACC plans to continue to leverage industry partnerships and develop additional opportunities for students within IT programs to be prepared for in-demand IT positions. (https://www.dmacc.edu/it/)
By involving the efforts of multiple college departments, our IT reorganization and outreach model can be easily replicated, allowing for scaling throughout multiple STEM disciplines. Beginning Spring 2016, DMACC will broaden its impact by applying this model to its Pre-Engineering and Engineering Technology programs.
Finally, a significant step in scaling STEM will include the integration of STEMconnector’s, STEM 2.0 Compatibility Platform, with the introduction of employability skills into STEM coursework. DMACC in collaboration with the Iowa Institute for Character Development and the Institute for Excellence and Ethics, designed a series of curricular resources that can be integrated into the classroom in flexible and innovative ways to help enhance the core competencies needed for career success. This initiative is called Leadership Excellence at DMACC (LEAD) and the College has already begun piloting into selected STEM courses.Communications and Social Media for Institution
- Todd Jones
Director of Marketing & Public Relations
- Vicki Voogt, Web/Social Media Coordinator
Des Moines Area Community College