CPCC’s Return to Industry program keeps instructors’ skills current, helps students

last modified Feb 25, 2013 10:06 AM

Thanks to Central Piedmont Community College’s (CPCC) annual Return to Industry program, up to 10 CPCC instructors will hang up their teaching hats this spring and assume a new position with an organization in their field of expertise. The Return to Industry program provides CPCC faculty members a way to remain current on the skills and competencies currently required by their industry.

During the last two weeks of May, participating CPCC instructors will be placed in a company or an outside organization with the assistance of the college’s Professional Development office. Once embedded in the workforce, instructors will gain invaluable knowledge, learning their industry’s latest advances and technologies; today’s workforce demands, opportunities and needs; and the skills their students will need to succeed in the current workplace.

“Our instructors are able to take the information they gather and later share it with their students in the classroom, giving our students a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace,” said Karen Merriman, dean of Professional Development and eLearning at CPCC. “Not only does the experience make our instructors better educators, but it also gives them more credibility with our students and the surrounding community, raising awareness of CPCC as a quality higher education institution.”

Pamela Roberts, a Culinary Technology instructor at CPCC, participated in the Return to Industry program in 2012. At the time, she needed to explore the art of sous vide cooking – a culinary technique that was beyond her knowledge. The program placed her with Custom Shop, a Charlotte restaurant that specializes in this particular cooking method. Working next to owner Chef Trey Wilson, Roberts was able to learn the basics of the technique and teach it to her students.

“Spending time with Chef Trey gave me an opportunity, I wouldn’t have otherwise had, to determine which processes and food items my students would most benefit from learning,” said Roberts. “Thanks to the Return to Industry program, I was able to learn about a complicated subject – sous vide cooking – and narrow it down to a few simple steps so that I could present it to my students in a simple and digestible manner.”

All CPCC faculty members are eligible to participate in the Return to Industry program; however, preference is typically given to faculty members who have been employed at the College for three or more years.

The program also compliments employees’ work schedules well; faculty are placed with employers during the two weeks between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the summer term. And, if participants document how the program will be used to enhance student learning and improve the curriculum, they receive a $500 stipend.

For more information on CPCC’s Return to Industry program, please visit www.cpccedu/pd/funding/return-to-industry.