ACC's Public Safety Training Center wins prestigious Innovation Award

For the third straight year, Austin Community College District (ACC) is named a top innovator by the League for Innovation in the Community College. ACC was recognized with the 2020 Innovation of the Year award for its Public Safety Training Center (PSTC): Immersive and Dynamic Simulations for First Responders.

"We're honored to be recognized with this prestigious award. The Public Safety Training Center is where we build and nurture future leaders who will serve our communities," says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor. "Our Criminal Justice Program provides practical and accessible training. They're forensic science technicians, detectives, troopers, correctional administrators, and more. This center provides them the advanced learning environment they need to grow their knowledge and skills. Just as important, it provides our current first responders a state-of-the-art facility to continue their training."

The PSTC, located at ACC Hays Campus, provides hands-on training for firefighters, law enforcement, and paramedics. More than 6,100 first responders have trained at the PSTC since it opened in fall 2018.

"Proper training for first responders has never been more important. We are committed to improving the education and skills of our public safety officials," says Dale Toler, PSTC interim director. "The Public Safety Training Center is a model for replication and continues to generate state and national attention. Our center provides the right tools in one specialized place."

The center has a 7,000-square-foot tactical room, 50-yard tactical shooting range, 19-acre emergency vehicle operator course, and specially designed training rooms for different first responders.

ACC is one of only 23 colleges nationwide recognized with a 2020 Innovation of the Year Award.

"These (colleges) reflect capstone achievements and the continuing renewal of the spirit of innovation and experimentation upon which the League was founded," explains the League. "The award honors faculty, staff, and administrators who have created and implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships, policies, and activities that improve the institution's ability to serve students and the community."

ACC previously won an Innovation of the Year award in 2019 for the ACC Fashion Incubator and in 2018 for the Accelerated Programmer Training Program.

The League will honor 2019-2020 Innovation of the Year Award recipients during the 2021 Innovations Conference, which will be held virtually in the spring.

For more information on the center, visit