Microelectronic degree is LCCC’s first bachelor’s degree

Andre Malabanan

Staff Writer

Once a dedicated two-year institution offering associate and technical degrees, Lorain County Community College is paving a new way for its students through its new offering – a bachelor’s of applied science in microelectronic manufacturing, after receiving authorization from the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE).

Simultaneous with the rapidly growing industry of microelectronics, LCCC helms to a direction where students can opt to finish a bachelor’s degree in the community college, especially for those who has interest in the field of microelectronics.

It was announced in June 2017 that community colleges in Ohio can apply to offer applied bachelor’s degree meeting a list of requirements under House Bill 49. In July 2017, responded with its interest of offering an applied bachelor’s degree in microelectronic manufacturing. According to Johnny Vanderford, LCCC assistant professor and project manager for Mechatronics Technology Program, that in November to December 2017, insights from different Ohio universities were gathered and refused the idea because of possible overlaps with their programs in manufacturing. Nonetheless LCCC got approved to confer the bachelor’s degree offering low tuition rates.

The MEMS program started in the college as an associate degree in 2014 being recognized as an answer to the needs of the industry. According to Vanderford, the program started in a small group of people enrolled in it. “We had in the first year, only three people signed up to this degree but all of them had paid internships and got full-time jobs afterwards,” he said.

Year after year, the class size of the program gets bigger and  having a high success rate of their graduates led them to offer more classes per year. As of now, majority of Vanderford’s students are employed in different paid internships making them prepared to join the workforce of the industry after graduation.

“In the next 5 years, companies are going to lose a significant amount of their skilled workforce. Ohio has a unique area. Central and Northern Ohio are kind of referred to lately as the new silicon valley. Silicon is a primary material that these electronic components are made of. Companies are here because of the lower cost of the land,” he said. Having said this, Vanderford believes that there is a great opportunity waiting for students who are enrolled in the program.

For interested students who are still undecided, Vanderford gave an example when he had students who were not technology-literate but survived the program. “I’ve had students who didn’t even know how to use a computer, who didn’t know how to send an email before. They took this class and now they’re working in this field,” he said.

Currently, information sessions about the MEMS program are held in the campus to accommodate students who want have a closer look of the program where Vanderford himself discusses about the basics of what they do. He also gives tours in their laboratories located in The Richard Desich Business and Entrepreneurship Center. The group usually consists of few people but with the announcement of the bachelor’s degree of the program, the group has been getting more people registering for these information sessions.

For more information about the MEMS and Microelectonics program info sessions, visit lorainccc.edu/mems.