ELYRIA, Ohio, March 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Lorain County Community College (LCCC) received authorization today from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer Ohio's first bachelor of applied science in microelectronic manufacturing, pending approval by the Higher Learning Commission. As one of only three community colleges in the state and the only one in Northeast Ohio to receive approval, LCCC is well positioned to address the unmet talent needs of industry.
"Thanks to the leadership of this community, Lorain County Community College was the first community college with a permanent campus in Ohio in 1963 and the first community college to offer a comprehensive University Partnership Program; both of which have been game changers for this community," said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. "Today is yet another historic day for our college and our community."
For more than two decades, LCCC has offered more than 50 bachelor's and master's degrees from leading universities on its campus through the University Partnership. The applied bachelor's degree in microelectronic manufacturing will be an enhancement to LCCC's University Partnership and the first bachelor's degree program offered entirely by LCCC.
According to the Community College Baccalaureate Association, an Affiliated Council of the American Associate of Community Colleges, 20 states already allow community colleges to confer bachelor's degrees. The passing of House Bill 49 in June 2017 confirmed legislation that would allow Ohio to join these other states and instructed Chancellor Carey to approve programs that met specific requirements. Lorain County Community College will now move forward with seeking approval from the Higher Learning Commission, the accrediting body for public colleges and universities in Ohio.
In the letter to Dr. Ballinger from Chancellor Carey notifying Lorain County Community College of the approval, he states, "In the case of Lorain County Community College's request, the Ohio Department of Higher Education observed exceptionally strong evidence of workforce need in the field of microelectronic manufacturing. Although there are other engineering technology programs in the region, there was no evidence of duplication with regard to microelectronic manufacturing. There was clear evidence of collaboration and agreements with multiple employers, including paid internship program with employer commitments to hire interns and graduates of the programs."
"This program is being developed with strong input from industry. We are partnering with area employers and designing our curriculum to meet their workforce needs," said Ballinger. "This is all about advanced manufacturing and growing a talent base to help companies not only compete, but grow and thrive especially as new technologies emerge."
Microelectronic manufacturing is an interdisciplinary field that combines mechanical and electrical engineering technology with science, mathematics and communications. This emerging advanced manufacturing field helps companies make products and processes "smart" by embedding sensors and micro electromechanical systems (MEMS).
In 2014, LCCC answered industry need by launching the state's first associate degree program in mechatronics technology with a focus in MEMS. The program is one of only 16 in the United States and the only one of its kind in Ohio.
"We have a 100 percent job placement rate for our current mechatronics technology associate degree. Now we will be able to offer our students the opportunity to complete a pathway from certificate to bachelor's degree in this highly specialized and in-demand field," said Johnny Vanderford, LCCC assistant professor and project manager for Mechatronics Technology program.
Ohio has set a target to have 65 percent of its workforce earn an industry recognized credential or degree by 2025. Institutions of higher education are pursuing new models of instruction – like the applied bachelor's degree – to reach these goals.
"LCCC is ready to step up and this program hits the mark. Students are excited because they will earn a bachelor's degree for less than $15,000 while simultaneously completing a paid internship that averages $18,000. Our students will be financially ahead even before they land their first job," Ballinger said.
In fact, graduates of the associate degree MEMS program are often offered full-time work following the completion of their degree with their internship provider. Through this "Learn and Earn" model, graduates of the associate program are earning average starting salaries of $65,000.
"The authority to deliver applied bachelor's degrees, especially in fields like this, expands upon our commitment to our community to keep access to higher education affordable and relevant to the job market. This is the return on investment our community expects and deserves," said Ballinger.
SOURCE Lorain County Community College