PCC’s semiconductor and advanced manufacturing pathways receives $910,000 in federal dollars
Photos and Story by James Hill
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici recently announced that all 15 of the Community Projects she recommended were included in the government funding bill passed by the House and Senate, sending more than $35 million for Northwest Oregon to President Joe Biden’s desk.
The Community Project Funding was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 to fund the government for the next year. The package includes $910,000 for Portland Community College to fund semiconductor and advanced manufacturing workforce training and support services.
“This funding package is great news for Oregonians,” Bonamici said. “I look forward to seeing how the funding from this legislation helps our communities thrive, and I am committed to continuing to work on these important issues.”
The $910,000 in funding to PCC will be used to further develop a regional career and academic pathway in semiconductor and advanced manufacturing, which was initiated after a $200,000 Intel grant was awarded to support the launch of programming at the Willow Creek Center. The college currently offers students the opportunity to complete short-term workforce training, such as a one-year certificate in mechatronics, and a two-year career technical associate degree in microelectronics and electronic engineering technologies.
“I would like to thank Congresswoman Bonamici for her leadership and all the work that went into making this opportunity a reality,” said Dr. Adrien Bennings, PCC president. “This and other key funding from the state of Oregon will enable us to increase partnerships and expand outreach, support and training for advanced manufacturing workforce development.”
This money will allow the college to further equitable student access and success by reaching and supporting marginalized and underrepresented populations. Success examples include PCC’s Maritime Welding Pathway – a collaboration with Vigor Marine – that has reached 50% female students and historically has served 25% students of color with an 80% placement rate. In addition, the Microelectronics Technology Program – a partnership with Intel since 1990 – boasts a 95% placement rate of students into jobs at the company.
Due to technology advances and an aging workforce, there is an immediate short and long term need to continue to grow a diverse pipeline of workers in the semiconductor and advanced manufacturing industries. In Oregon, there will be 5,563 new jobs in the advanced manufacturing sector over the next eight years, most of which will be highly concentrated in Washington County.
“We are thrilled to be able to continue to work with our partners – from community-based organizations to K-12 and municipalities – and deepen our level of collaboration and integration of a regional semiconductor career and academic pathway,” said Carrie Weikel-Delaplane, program dean for Mechatronics, Electronics & Advanced Manufacturing. “This effort will lead to high-wage and high-demand jobs for our entire community.”
The $910,000 Community Project Funding will:
- Update course curriculum through faculty stipends;
- Upgrade necessary software and equipment to keep course offerings relevant;
- Develop an “industry in the classroom” model to attract nationally recognized experts in the semiconductor industry to teach;
- Fund scholarships, equipment, and basic needs;
- Build awareness of careers in the semiconductor and advanced manufacturing space, as well as training and job opportunities.
The semiconductor and advanced manufacturing pathway will be supported by a coalition of public and private partners. This will entail increasing regional and national public and private partnerships with a focus on supporting academic programming opportunities for K-12 students, postsecondary education, adult learners, upskillers, and incumbent workers.
PCC will continue to involve groups and industry leaders to coordinate semiconductor and advanced manufacturing career pathways, like the City of Hillsboro Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Partnership – an industry-led private/public partnership addressing the workforce pipeline and skills gap through Future Ready Oregon funding. Earlier this month, former Oregon Governor Kate Brown visited PCC’s Willow Creek Center to discuss semiconductor training and recruitment with the group, as well as tour the college’s mechatronics lab.
“I’m really proud of the partnerships and the collective, collaborative work that is happening in this space,” Brown said. “For me, it’s all about centering our historically underserved communities, and I’m really happy to see the work happening on the ground.”