Logan Mencke

Staff Writer

An info session regarding the growing field of microelectrical mechanical systems (MEMS) and sensor technology was held in The Richard Desich Business and Entrepreneurship Center at Lorain County Community College on April 5.  MEMS are a vast field of microscopic technology that consists of microchips, microcircuits, and other tiny electronic components that are driving the progress of new and improved technology.

The session was a part of LCCC’s new program Training Recruitment Acceleration Innovation Network of Ohio (TRAIN OH), a program devoted to developing highly trained workers for the microelectronic manufacturing industry.  The two-year degree that is offered by the college in this program was founded in 2013 with the support of eight companies that were interested in providing feedback on what the degree should contain regarding content to hire skilled workers with the required training.  Presently, there are now 28 companies supporting the degree.  Students enrolled in the program are required to join a paid internship where they attend class two days a week and work three days a week with one of LCCC’s industry partners.

Job training in MEMS is important for the State of Ohio because of the new opportunities it provides.  

“Forbes magazine and Electronic Engineering Times (EE Times) have now started calling the northeast and central Ohio areas the new Silicon Valley,” said Johnny Vanderford, professor and lab director of the program. “The problem is it just cost too much for companies to start up on the west coast.”

Vanderford took those who attended the session into the cleanroom where students are instructed on how to work with microelectronics.  Before entering the cleanroom, attendees had to put on the proper gear so as to not ruin the fragile equipment in the room.  Surgical masks, hair nets, gloves, shoe coverings, and a lab coat are required to be worn by anyone who enters the lab to prevent dust and skin oils from contaminating the machines.

While in the cleanroom, Vanderford demonstrated the different machines students enrolled in the program will be working with. After finishing the demonstrations, he explained his optimistic view for those who earn a MEMS degree.  

“This is not a stagnant degree.  It is a constantly evolving degree,” said Vanderford.  Currently, LCCC is considering to turn the degree into the college’s first ever offered baccalaureate degree, according to Vanderford.  If voted on by the State of Ohio, it will launch in the fall of 2018.  

“It’s a job-related degree that is very much heavily focused on getting people into the workforce in a very booming area of the new Silicon Valley of Ohio,” said Vanderford.     

Anyone who would like to learn more about MEMS and the microelectronics degree offered by LCCC can contact professor Johnny Vanderford at (440) 366-4206 or at jvanderford@lorainccc.edu.