US Commerce Secretary visits PCC to meet with Oregon leaders about semiconductor industry
Photos and Story by James Hill
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visited Portland Community College on Wednesday, April 5 to meet with state and tech industry leaders to discuss the $52 billion federal CHIPS and Science Act and whether Oregon has the resources and political will to build out its semiconductor infrastructure.
Joining Secretary Raimondo at the Willow Creek Center for the public roundtable were U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and Oregon Governor Tina Kotek — by far the most high-profile event at Willow Creek since it came online in 2009. Students from the college’s various semiconductor-related programs were on hand, including PCC’s dual credit partnership with Forest Grove High School. They discussed how the college’s training programs are preparing them for high-tech careers.
“From first generation college students to people charting new paths later in their careers, it was inspiring to meet Portland Community College students and learn how they’re being equipped for the semiconductor jobs of the future,” said Secretary Raimondo.
Oregon has pending state legislation that would set aside $210 million for Oregon businesses, local governments and public universities and colleges. This would support any federal CHIPS funding, which if it were to happen, would be a huge boon for Oregon’s economy and workforce with PCC being in the middle of it all.
At the Willow Creek Opportunity Center, the mechatronics lab is the focal point for a certificate focused on the hyper local economic development in the semiconductor field. PCC is hosting mechatronics classes in partnership with Intel called the Quick Start Semiconductor Technician Training Program. This is a 10-day training course designed to help job-seekers quickly gain the skills they need to land an entry-level technician job with Intel and other area semiconductor manufacturers. The program features a 71% placement rate and a 400-person wait list.
“We have a long history of training the workforce for semiconductor and advanced manufacturing careers,” said PCC President Dr. Adrien Bennings to the invited guests. “Our academic pathways alone offer multiple avenues to not just degrees but short-term certificates. All of these lead to living wage jobs, which is so critical in positioning our citizens to not only thrive but to have that economic mobility.”
PCC’s Electronic Engineering Technology and Microelectronics Technology programs offer options for those wishing to learn the principles of mechatronics and enter advanced manufacturing as a career. Microelectronics has a nearly 100% hiring rate for its graduates with such companies as Intel, Maxim Integrated, Qorvo, Lam Research, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electronics. At the OMIC Training Center in Columbia County, PCC offers two mechatronics non-credit training certificates – electrical technician and programmable logic controls specialist, and at the Sylvania Campus in Southwest Portland there is the Machine Manufacturing Technology Program that trains students on the latest automated machinery.