PCC’s on-ramp course, Quick Start, gives Emily Peng running start at Intel

Photos and Story by

Emily Peng at the Willow Creek mechatronics Lab where Quick Start is hosted.

Emily Peng at the Willow Creek Mechatronics Lab where Quick Start is hosted.

  • Peng used PCC’s on-ramp courses to find her calling working at Intel
  • Quick Start is an intensive 10-day course for entry-level semiconductor positions
  • The Willow Creek Opportunity Center is a hub for career and workforce development

Bethany resident Emily Peng’s journey to securing a position at Intel was made possible by the career exploration and support programs at Portland Community College. 

Peng, originally from Taiwan, decided to make a career change upon moving to the United States with her husband. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and working towards a master’s degree in Industrial Design, Peng found herself in Oregon seeking new career opportunities.

Unable to find a job in her field upon arriving in Portland, Peng decided to pivot her employment path. Her journey took a significant turn when she happened upon the Willow Creek Opportunity Center, a hub for career and workforce development, during her daily commute on the light rail. This encounter led Peng to explore the various resources available to her as an immigrant seeking to build a career in a new country.

Emily Peng.

Semiconductor Training

PCC has built a healthy semiconductor pathway to address the worker shortage. From short-term introductory courses to the industry like Quick Start to two-year degrees in microelectronics and electronic engineering, PCC offers many options to learn the principles of advanced manufacturing that provide pathways to living wage jobs and long-term careers in semiconductors.

Learn More

Peng’s involvement in free English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and the Explore College and Careers Program for immigrants, refugees, and non-native English speakers provided her with the foundational support needed to find what careers fit her interests. She received assistance with her resume, English conversational skills, and guidance on potential career paths. 

It was during her participation in the Discover Manufacturing: An On-Ramp to PCC, aimed at introducing students to jobs in advanced manufacturing, that Peng found her path to Intel.

“All of the instructors were very nice and supported my journey,” Peng said. “PCC has so many programs and a lot of resources I could access. They deal with a lot of types of students and the staff know what we want, how to help us to register for classes and how to phrase emails to employers.”

A partnership between Intel, Worksystems, the City of Hillsboro and Washington County presented Peng with the opportunity to enroll in the Quick Start Semiconductor Technician Training Program. This intensive 10-day course, designed to equip students with the skills necessary for entry-level positions in semiconductor manufacturing, proved to be a turning point for Peng. With support from instructors and staff, Peng honed her skills, refined her resume, and prepared for interviews specifically tailored to positions at Intel.

“I was really nervous during the interview,” she admitted. “And the interviewers could tell but they were nice, spoke slowly and asked questions. During Quick Start, the teacher would ask particular questions to help prepare us for the interview.”

The program has been the cornerstone of PCC’s advanced manufacturing workforce development. It has attracted Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and a collection of local and state leadership to tour the lab and better understand the benefits of the program. Quick Start enjoys an impressive 68% job placement rate, and a healthy waitlist. Since it began in late 2022, it has graduated 351 students with 78% of them women and students of color.

“I do believe that what you are witnessing here is something that could be a model across the nation for community colleges,” said Dr. Adrien Bennings, PCC president. “This is one of the many avenues that students can have to engage in the workforce at an early stage and set themselves up for a successful future.”

Another success factor of the Quick Start program is to diversify the semiconductor industry by encouraging underrepresented populations, including women, to consider careers in advanced manufacturing and encourage them through comprehensive support. People like Emily Peng.

“Quick Start instructors are very nice and will stay after class to answer questions,” Peng said. “A lot of people helped!”

For Peng, the journey culminated in a job offer from Intel in technology development. Having completed her ESOL classes and orientation training at Intel, she is now using the scholarship funds available through the Quick Start experience to further her education through PCC’s Microelectronics Technology Program.

“I’d tell potential students to come learn and participate in all of these PCC programs,” Peng said. “I’m really grateful because I did not have a related degree in semiconductors, and I didn’t think I could work at a big company like Intel. But I am!”

For more details on Quick Start, visit pcc.edu/semiconductor

Emily Peng

Peng, originally from Taiwan, decided to make a career change upon moving to the U.S.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Director of Public Relations at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic... more »