Creating career-ready graduates

April is Community College Month, a time to celebrate the broad impact of our nation’s community colleges.

Lorain County Community College.

It’s right there, our middle name: community.

LCCC’s history of serving the community stretches back to 1963 when the need was recognized for a local college to create higher education access and a bridge to gainful employment. Over the past 59 years, LCCC has helped Lorain County adapt and thrive through prosperity and challenging times. Through nimble academic programs and meaningful connections with local industry, the college has helped our community remain competitive today and prepared for the innovation of tomorrow.

In this era of rapid change, the ability to quickly adapt and create new training and credentials is one of LCCC’s most important attributes. By listening to local employers and keeping an eye on the pulse on the needs of our community, as well as nationwide trends, LCCC creates academic programming that leads to career-ready graduates with good paying jobs waiting for them upon graduation. As a result, more than 90% of LCCC graduates live and work in Northeast Ohio. All this builds a confidence in LCCC and our region that employers look for when making big decisions.

So, earlier this year when Intel announced it is bringing its most advanced chip manufacturing operation in the world to Ohio, I was thrilled but not surprised. LCCC and our entire state have been preparing for an opportunity like this for decades and we are ready to maximize the economic impact Intel will bring. A group of college and local leaders gathered to watch the live stream of the Intel announcement. Watch the video:

While some find themselves Googling the work that Intel does, at LCCC, words like “semiconductor” and “mechatronics” have been part of our vocabulary for nearly a decade. In fact, LCCC has been training students in the field of microelectronic manufacturing (MEMS) since 2013 when we became the first community college to offer an associate degree in MEMS. In 2018, LCCC made history again as the first community college to deliver an applied bachelor’s degree in MEMS.

Our MEMS program is delivered in a successful and replicable “earn and learn” format where students work while attending college. Not only does this model of learning give students opportunities to gain work experience while they are in school, making themselves more attractive to future employers, it allows students to earn a livable wage as they complete the program. This structure, combined with the low cost of community college tuition and time to degree of typically two years, drives the growth and diversity within our earn and learn programs. The MEMS program alone has increased from three students in 2013 to 150 in 2021. And these students are women, students of color, traditional college age, and adult learners.

LCCC’s MEMS students work on a microscopic scale while thinking big. Em Williams earned a prestigious NASA Ohio Space Grant Consortium Community College scholarship for her research on the future of automation in microelectronics. Williams will graduate in May with an associate degree in MEMS and will continue for the MEMS applied bachelor’s degree.

Em Williams holds a NASA patch inside the MEMS room
Em Williams

As automation continues to be at the forefront of manufacturing, LCCC is preparing a local workforce with a new applied bachelor’s degree currently in development. LCCC’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Smart Industrial Automated Systems Engineering Technology will focus on integrating, operating, modifying, and troubleshooting smart manufacturing systems based on “off-the-shelf” industrial equipment directly related to smart manufacturing.

These two applied bachelor’s degrees offered by LCCC complement the more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees from 14 Ohio colleges and universities in LCCC’s University Partnership. This year, we celebrate 25 years of the University Partnership providing affordable degrees to local people. By pairing LCCC’s low tuition rate with thoughtful transfer pathways, students in LCCC’s University Partnership save an average of $75,000 on their degrees.

That savings makes a real difference for students and their families. This can be particularly significant for high school dual enrollment students who follow a bachelor’s degree pathway through our MyUniversity program – a model that allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 20 while saving 80 percent on the cost of their education.

Whether students are earning a short-term certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s or master’s degree, they can confidently pursue their goals knowing their program will prepare them for a career right here in Northeast Ohio. After all, that’s why LCCC was created. It’s a mission we’ve fulfilled since 1963, serving our community, now and in the future.