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LCCC tackles global microchip technology, local workforce shortage with mechatronics program

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Posted at 10:12 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 10:12:31-04

ELYRIA, Ohio — Design. Assemble. Repair. Repeat.

This is what mechatronics at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) is all about.

"For the last nine years, we have been training students to manufacture, design, assemble and repair circuit boards, the chips that go on to the circuit boards and the semiconductor parts and the integrated circuits that go inside of the chips," said Johnny Vanderford, LCCC assistant professor and coordinator of its microelectronic manufacturing degree. "We...have required every student in our associate degree to have 300 hours of paid working experience in order for them to graduate and go on to our bachelor’s degree."

As the microchip shortage continues to plague the nation, LCCC’s mechatronics program is working to recruit more students to help meet industry demands. The program has career passions for students like Joshua McDonald.

“I've always been drawn to electronics and things like that,” he explained. “I was working a full-time job, a part time job and coming in here in the initial steps then LCCC gave me the opportunity to learn and earn.”

Highschool students like Carter Graves are enrolled in the program as well. Graves is a junior who says he gained access to the program through College Credit Plus.

“A friend told me about this course. So, I decided that this semester I'd actually come in and take the course in-person and learn more about the actual career side of it.”

The mechatronics program started with state funding in 2013.

“Eight companies stepped up and said, we need technical workforce. Can you make a college degree that will get us foot in the door technical positions,” said Vanderford.

At that time and still today, the required critical training is sometimes hard to find. The educational experience is also often times more expensive at larger institutions.

“Our full-time degree costs $3,900 per year for a full-time student. It is the most affordable in all of Ohio as of right now,” said Vanderford.

With a 100% graduation rate and 90% of students currently employed at 80 supporting companies, LCCC hopes more students explore mechatronics. It’s why the college is hosting a series of information sessions on campus. The next one is Tuesday, May 17 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information on mechatronics and a list of other information session dates, click here.