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PCC tap staff to lead Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center’s training arm

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As Portland Community College seeks a permanent presence in Columbia County, it has tapped Chris Holden and Mohammed Maraee to lead its Training Center as part of the regional Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC). The OMIC effort is a collaboration of industry, higher education and government focused on creating a world-class innovation center. It seeks to combine applied research and development and workforce training, to serve the region’s advanced manufacturers and create economic mobility for area residents to access living wage careers in a key industry sector.

Chris Holden and Mohammed Maraee will lead the training center as part of the regional Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC).

Chris Holden and Mohammed Maraee will lead the training center as part of the regional Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC).

“We are excited to have Chris and Mohammed join the college, to lead the Training Center and apply their deep industry, management and educational knowledge to the OMIC effort,” said Marc Goldberg, associate vice president for Workforce Development and Continuing Education at PCC, whose division includes the OMIC Training Center.

“Their experience and connections to business and industry, and familiarity with work-based learning models such as registered apprenticeships, will bode well for OMIC, enabling us to meet manufacturers’ future workforce needs through innovative training programs,” he said.

Added Senator Betsy Johnson, whose district includes Scappoose where OMIC is located, “The addition of Chris and Mohammed in leadership roles for PCC’s Training Center is significant, as this will accelerate PCC’s permanent presence in Columbia County and build a pipeline of talent for regional manufacturers through OMIC. OMIC will be a huge economic development driver for the state with its prospect for new jobs and businesses, and PCC is key to preparing a knowledgeable workforce for these future opportunities.”

Holden serves as director of the PCC OMIC Training Center, whose emphasis will be on craftsmanship, professionalism, and placing graduates into high-wage, high-demand advanced manufacturing jobs. He has more than 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry as a patternmaker apprentice, technician, engineer and manager, and has owned KCR Manufacturing – which designs and manufactures wildland firefighting equipment for firefighting and forestry professionals around the world – since 2007.

Chris Holden.

Chris Holden.

In concert with running KCR Manufacturing, Holden was a studio engineer and studio modeler for one year with Daimler Trucks North America. Prior to owning KCR, from 1994 to 2007, he was a patternmaker, general manager, and eventually vice president with Willamette Pattern Works, a provider of foundry tooling for the pump industry, and patterns and prototype molds for the composite industry.

In the education arena, Holden helped revive the manufacturing program of study at the Center for Advanced Learning, a multi-district Career Technical Education high school in Gresham. He did so by advising faculty, aligning curriculum to industry standards, and creating a positive image of manufacturing careers through a daylong community manufacturing event, “Makers Gone Pro.” Additionally, he recently developed a multi-employer machinist apprenticeship, partnering with PCC.

As the industry training coordinator for the PCC OMIC Training Center, Maraee is responsible for connecting regional manufacturers with OMIC Training and ensuring the innovative training model meets their priority workforce needs. He is also an adjunct instructor at PCC, teaching in the Business department.

Prior to PCC, Maraee was a full-time professor in the Business department at the American University in Sulaimani, Iraq. Before this, Maraee held several positions in the Portland and Vancouver markets: as the outcome measurement and evaluation analyst for Lutheran Community Services Northwest, assessing data related to mental health counseling and immigration programs, and before that, as a self sufficiency coordinator, facilitating and providing employment services to refugees, immigrants and people with employment challenges; as the area supervisor for Hawes Financial Group, managing daily branch operations of Titanium legal services; and as an operations and policy analyst with the Oregon State Government, leading liaison services for IT project analyses, studies, reports and plans.

Mohammed Maraee.

Mohammed Maraee.

Between 2004 and 2007, Maraee worked in Amman, Jordan, as a financial analyst, general manager and quality assurance software tester. Prior to this, he was employed by the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense, in Mosul, Iraq, serving as a cultural advisor and linguist. Maraee earned his master’s in Organizational Management and Leadership in Management from Warner Pacific College in 2016.

Through applied research and advanced technical training, OMIC is addressing advanced manufacturing challenges through the partnership of industry, higher education and government. OMIC is modeled after the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) in partnership with Boeing in Sheffield, England. In addition to PCC, the collaborative partnership includes: AFL-CIO, Bureau of Labor and Industries, Business Oregon, City of Scappoose, Columbia County, Columbia County Economic Team, Greater Portland Inc, Manufacturing 21, Portland State University, Oregon Employment Department, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Oregon State University.

PCC’s OMIC Training Center, scheduled to open in fall 2019, will offer apprenticeship programs that combine job-related technical instruction with structured on-the-job learning experiences, resulting in an industry-issued, recognized credential that certifies occupational proficiency, and an opportunity to obtain a post-secondary degree at PCC. While construction is under way on the center, PCC will have a temporary site at Scappoose High School beginning in 2018, to launch its training programs.

“OMIC offers the opportunity to educate the next generation of the workforce as we simultaneously meet employers’ needs in industries that are growing and offer significant advancement potential,” said PCC President Mark Mitsui.

“As our region continues its rebound from the Great Recession, we see the strongest growth in households at the top and bottom ends of the income distribution. The middle class – that range of $55,000 to $75,000 – is shrinking.

“PCC seeks to rebuild Oregon’s middle class, and OMIC is an example of how PCC can do this by offering specialized postsecondary training for students interested in the advanced manufacturing field,” he said.

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x by Dion Hardy 6 years ago

Congratulations to both of you, and PCC for what appears to be a very worthwhile endeavor. I would like to engage in conversation with you to see if I, or Connor Manufacturing, can get involved in this program as we are one of the many companies who are challenged with finding good, qualified employees. My contact information is: Dion Hardy, General Manager-NA,

x by Mohammed Maraee 6 years ago

Mr. Hardy,
Thank you very much for your kind note. I have sent you an email that includes my and OMIC’s information, and I am more than happy to answer all your questions, or visit your location and update you on OMIC/PCC current efforts to support the manufacturers and industries in Oregon. Thank you very much!