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Climb Every Mountain: Taking a recreation management degree to new heights

SCC grad Damian Noe leads a tower safety course for telecommunication safety professionals, in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

Damian Noe has always had a passion for the outdoors. After obtaining an Associate’s degree in Applied Sciences in Recreation Management Programming from Scottsdale Community College (SCC) in 2010, he channeled this passion and his extensive education into the launch of his own industrial rope access and rescue safety company. Today, that company has a strong global presence and is leapfrogging well-established competitors worldwide.

Noe’s pathway to success, however, wasn’t so clear-cut in the beginning.

When he first started taking classes at SCC, he didn’t know what career or degree program to pursue. “I tried construction, architecture and accounting and was horrible at all of them. I struggled through English and math.”

Frustrated, he wanted to find a class that truly interested him. He searched through the course book trying to discover a degree and program he liked. He found recreation management and immediately felt a sense of relief, excitement and motivation. He signed up for Backpacking, Canyoneering, Outdoor Rock Climbing and Caving courses at SCC. Noe had finally found his connection between a passion and education – and he excelled. During a river trip through the Grand Canyon, he made the decision to make recreation management his major.

Noe participated in a three-month course at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), in New Zealand, where he earned 16 credit hours to complete his degree at SCC and advanced his knowledge in adventure. Upon returning to the U.S., he pursued an Adventure Education experiential learning program at Prescott College.

While there, he was able to develop his own coursework. He added all of his professional certifications, such as technical rescue training and industrial rope access certifications, and OSHA safety, into the custom curriculum so that when he graduated from Prescott College, Noe had achieved the maximum level of qualifications as a rope safety professional.

Noe said he always knew that once he graduated he wanted to start his own business. “I could make money by working for someone, or I could be the someone that someone is working for,” he reasoned. “I could make $25 an hour and guide a hike, or I could go much bigger.”

He decided to go bigger. He launched Arizona Rope Services LLC, in 2010, as part of his degree program, and, in 2013, relocated to Saudi Arabia for an industrial maintenance contract. He applied the extensive safety training, standards and best practices he now possessed to the petrochemical industry there. He began using the latest OSHA safety standards with rope access methods for industrial maintenance and construction work, bringing the world’s largest oil companies, such as Saudi Aramco, new technology to increase safety and lower cost in a more timely manner. Noe spent six years developing his company and own niche industry, and is today writing the standards for the government of Bahrain Ministry of Health and Safety.

The companies he founded, Arizona Rope Services and American Rescue & Safety, deliver quality safety equipment, training and professional services for organizations worldwide. They offer certified OSHA safety professionals, rescue and rope access expertise, and qualified safety equipment inspectors.

One of the biggest areas of success has been providing National Fire Protection Association-level rescue training and special safety equipment to oil industry contractors in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for confined space shutdown maintenance, construction in the oil and gas industry, and certification of personnel and safety equipment distribution. Noe and his colleagues have shown petrochemical companies in the region how to eliminate conventional methods of scaffolding by replacing them with innovative rope-works strategies. This has decreased job time from four months to as little as two days!

His passion for outdoor safety has helped him launch Rappel, which provides rappelling, rope course and zip-line strategies, and he also provides extensive consulting on high-profile projects.

Noe credits the SCC faculty for helping position him on the pathway to success early on. “I had two teachers in the Recreation Management Department – Dave Brown and Josh Parafinik – who offered the types of courses I needed, and they really created an environment in which I could take my passion and find ways to explore it further.”

Noe says he would recommend SCC to a future student, citing the quality faculty and fun, enjoyable programs. “Students have the flexibility to explore options they might not have thought of as a career option, but without the pressure of a four-year university and having to pay a lot of money.”

His connection to the Fighting Artichokes has come full circle as he recently returned to Arizona and became an adjunct faculty member at SCC. He has developed the Rope Safety Management course and plans to launch it in the Spring 2020 semester, pending approvals. The course ties all related rope safety skills – like fire department technical rescue, construction and rock climbing – that are universal, bringing a higher level of competency and understanding in his field.

Through the course, Noe plans to share his enthusiasm for the outdoors with a new generation of students.

Recreation Management at SCC

The Recreation Management degree and certificate programs at SCC help prepare students for entry-level employment opportunities in a wide variety of careers including: federal government, national parks, military entities, amusement parks, sporting stadiums, resorts, YMCA, hospital positions and many more. For more information click here.

To learn about SCC’s full range of degree and certificate programs, phone (480) 423-6700 or click here.

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