Clark College center strives to serve industry, students

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer Published: January 22, 2023, 6:04am

Clark College’s Center of Excellence for Semiconductors and Electronics Manufacturing program is a big part of the region’s effort to train high-tech employees. The program currently serves 16 to 20 students at a time but aspires to enroll 50. “When I talk to the industry, the students that come out of Clark College or any other vocational programs are highly successful and sought after,” said Carl Douglas, director for the program. Still, he thinks the program could be better. “The coursework needs to speed up,” said Douglas, adding he envisions a future program consisting of multiple shorter certificates rather than a single long one. “Part of our focus is to remain being an industry subject matter expert,” said Douglas. It’s difficult for the program to keep up with technology. That’s where the school’s shorter customized training programs come in.

These classes, from one to five days long, provide specialized training for employees of local businesses. These can be soft skills trainings in areas like technical writing and communications or technical skills trainings in areas like geometric dimensioning and tolerancing. What does the semiconductor and electronics manufacturing program need to be more successful? More instructors, said Douglas. Also, the equipment needs to stay up to date, which is expensive. Each module in a mechatronics lab costs $100,000 to $250,000. And each classroom has 10 to 12 modules. “The goal is to work with industry and education to ensure that we’re building the workforce skills — knowledge, skills and ability — needed for the industry,” said Douglas.

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