Lorain County Community College is poised to become the first community college in Ohio to offer an applied bachelor’s degree in microelectronic manufacturing. LCCC’s District Board of Trustees signed a resolution on June 22 in support of the design and launch of the applied bachelor’s degree program. LCCC intends to be among the first community colleges in Ohio to offer an applied bachelor’s degree.
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a budget for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 that included a provision allowing for community colleges to offer select applied bachelor’s degrees in areas of unmet industry need. Ohio will join nearly half of all other states that have moved in this direction.
In 2014, LCCC answered industry need by launching the state’s first associate degree program in mechatronics technology with a focus in micro electromechanical systems (MEMS). The program is one of only 16 in the United States. Expanding this offering to include an applied bachelor’s degree would greatly benefit students and employers in the region, said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D.
“This legislation is a game-changer for Ohio,” Ballinger said. “Ohio has set a target to have 65 percent of its workforce with an industry recognized credential or degree by 2025. Institutions of higher education need to do all we can to reach this goal, including pursuing new models. LCCC is ready to step up and this program hits the mark. Employers are engaged in the process and working with us to design and deliver the program. Students are excited because it leads to a degree and a good job.”
Graduates of the associate degree MEMS program complete paid internships with industry partners and are often offered full-time work following the completion of their degree with that employer. Through this “Learn and Earn” model, graduates of the program have a 100 percent job placement rate.
“The employment rate of our graduates is a testament to the need for this program. By expanding LCCC’s offerings to include an applied bachelor’s degree, we will be directly meeting the needs of employers in this high-growth field,” explained Johnny Vanderford, professor of microelectronics and MEMS engineering.
The new applied bachelor’s degree in microelectronics is pending approval by the state however students can begin their pathway to the bachelor’s degree by enrolling in the associate degree program at LCCC.
LCCC has, since 1995, offered access to bachelor’s and master’s degrees on its campus through the University Partnership Program. The applied bachelor’s degree in microelectronic manufacturing will be an enhancement to LCCC’s University Partnership and is the first bachelor’s degree program offered entirely by LCCC. The program will follow a 3+1 structure, meaning the first three years of the program will be at LCCC’s low tuition rate. The fourth year of the program will be at LCCC’s tuition rate and also include additional equipment and technology fees. The total cost to complete the program will be less than $15,000.
“The authority to deliver applied bachelor’s degrees, especially in fields like this, expands upon our commitment to our community to keep access to higher education affordable. In fact, this program, designed and delivered totally by Lorain County Community College, will cost student less than $15,000; that’s equivalent to one year at a public university. Furthermore, it’s a great return on investment. Salary levels for students after graduation are on average $65,000 or more,” Ballinger said.
CORE Technology, Inc., located in Avon, is a designer and manufacturer of high performance standard and custom AC/DC and DC/DC power conversion products. Their client list includes industry heavy hitters such as General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, NASA and more. The company participates in the MEMS internship program and has hired several LCCC graduates.
“The development of LCCC’s applied bachelor’s degree program aligns with our need for skilled employees in this critical area,” said CORE Technology President Jack Redilla. “This program will increase the talent pool available for new hires to my company and also provide a method for upgrading the skills of our current employees.”
Jared Dumont earned an associate degree in MEMS from LCCC in May 2017 and immediately began full-time work at CORE Technologies. Dumont said the opportunity to earn an applied bachelor’s degree in microelectronic manufacturing would make graduates like him even more marketable to local employers.
“The associate degree program was a perfect fit for me and I’m very excited at the prospect to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field,” Dumont said.
Current student Cosmin Cozma said the applied bachelor’s degree program would help local students and businesses.
“I think that would be an extraordinary step for the college and for the state of Ohio for a community college to take on such a task to cater to all the companies around that require higher education for development of electronics, microelectronics and sensors,” Cozma said.
Classes in the MEMS program are held in the Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center and Desich Business and Entrepreneurship Center, which includes a 2,000-square-foot class 10,000 clean room. The facilities not only support the degree program, but are also used by industry for commercialization of products – with students working alongside and providing real-life experience.
Microelectronic manufacturing is an emerging advanced manufacturing field that helps companies makes products and processes “smart” by embedding sensors and micro electromechanical systems (MEMS). Microelectronic manufacturing is an interdisciplinary field that combines mechanical and electrical engineering technology with science, mathematics and communications.
Learn more about MEMS programs at LCCC at www.lorainccc.edu/mems.