1999 Conference Proceedings

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Terry Carles

Gloria Ross
Instructional Assistant

Valencia Community College
P.O. Box 3028
Orlando, FL 32802
(407)299-5000 x2556

THE CENTER was officially established in 1990 at Valencia Community College with the merging of two training programs, Computer Programmer Training (est. 1983) and Computer Assisted Design and Drafting (est. 1987) which specialized in training individuals with disabilities. Since that time, THE CENTER has become a nationally recognized program for using innovative and assistive technology in the delivery of two quality vocational training programs.

Based on a partnership among education, business, and rehabilitation agencies, THE CENTER is continually responsive to the needs of individuals who are physically challenged. THE CENTER provides a twelve-month, 40-hour a week program, that prepares individuals with disabilities for a career as a computer programmer or a computer assisted design and drafting technician. THE CENTER's training programs, Computer Programming Training (CPT) and Computer Assisted Design and Drafting (CADD) are job training programs in which the student receives a vocational training certificate. While presented on a community college campus, programs at THE CENTER differ from the traditional "academic" programs in that they are presented in a simulated workplace environment. In addition, the curriculum also includes college preparatory courses, which provide trainees with both basic skills and professional development skills needed for today's njuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, visual and hearing impairment) and trains them through the use of technology for productive careers in the computer industry.

Requirements for entrance into our program include having a significant disability, a high school diploma or GED certificate, and successful completion of the assessment process. Students must also be medically stable, have a work tolerance of at least eight hours a day, be able to effectively communicate either by voice or through the use of a communication device and be able to write legibly or use a keyboard.

Students begin their program in our Business Application Lab (BAL). The curriculum provides the new trainee with a variety of prerequisite training and experience in preparation for their continuing education in either CADD or CPT. The lab starts with program orientation, then focuses on computer and office automation concepts, as well as hands-on PC applications (Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Windows '95, and DOS). An additional success factor covered by the BAL curriculum is the concentration given to business communications training. The foundation training of the BAL curriculum is then expanded and enhanced by the senior labs.

The Computer Programmer Training curriculum provides continuation of the hands-on learning of the BAL. The curriculum is dedicated to addressing current problems and solutions that occur regularly in the information industry. Deadlines, last minute changes, user interface, rapid technology change, and all the realities of the information industry are simulated in the curriculum. A real work information systems environment is maintained in the lab, so that the student's progress from the lab to the work place is smooth. The current curriculum includes training in C, SQL, Systems Analysis, mathematics, and logic.

The Computer Assisted Design and Drafting lab offers classroom lectures, workshops, laboratory activities, and on-the-job work experience. Trainees receive training in manual drafting concepts and techniques, introduction to CAD, AutoCAD release 14, MicroStation, technical mathematics, theory of design, working drawings and selected graphics applications.

Upon completion of Senior Lab, students are placed in a three-month internship with local businesses to provide on-the-job experience before they graduate. After graduation, if students are not hired directly from their internship, placement services are available. The success rate is demonstrated by THE CENTER's average 91 percent placement rate into positions with annual salaries up to $40,000.

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