Dave Becker, right, dean of LBCC's Business, Applied Technology, speaks to Congressman Peter DeFazio, left, and LBCC President Greg Hamann on a recent tour of LBCC's newest industrial programs.
"It's just extraordinary. A modern learning space for the future of technology in the United States of America," said Congressman Peter DeFazio while on a recent tour of Linn-Benton Community College’s newest industrial programs with LBCC President Greg Hamann.
The congressman was excited to see the newly-remodeled state-of-the-art facilities where students in the Mechatronics and Non-Destructive Testing programs are trained on the latest computer automated and robotic systems used by industry.
Students in the programs receive hands-on, high-skilled training that's highly sought after by business and industry, and which leads to quality, high-paying jobs. LBCC's programs are working to meet local workforce needs, with a near 100 percent placement rate for CTE graduates.
Senior staff from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office also toured the programs this week.
It’s safe to say, they too were very impressed.
As a ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Congressman DeFazio is in a unique position to provide leadership at the national level for community college programs, said John McArdle, LBCC director of development and government relations.
LBCC President Greg Hamann accompanied Congressman DeFazio on the tour. Congressman DeFazio has always been a strong supporter of the college, said Hamann. "It's a longstanding relationship that really creates opportunities for us and makes us a stronger institution," he added.
Working with both federal and local officials, the college is able to show exactly what investments are being made, and the results of those investments - from workforce training to the positive impact that training has on our local economies, as businesses and industry hire students who have the skills that they need, said McArdle.
Dave Becker, dean of LBCC’s Business, Applied Technology, and Industry division, led the tours, which included an update on construction progress to expand LBCC’s machine tool program, and college plans to expanded the welding program.
For students in LBCC’s industrial programs, the high level of skills they gain often means employers are ready to snap them up before they finish their programs, said Becker. Entry-level industrial manufacturing positions tend to move quickly up the pay scale, said Becker, with annual paychecks starting at $50,000 to $55,000. Every student who went through LBCC’s mechatronics program last spring came out with a job.
“College program modernization helps local industry to be more efficient and globally competitive, which in turn helps create family-wage jobs that stay in the United States,” said McArdle.
DeFazio has visited LBCC’s transportation-related programs in the past, including the grand opening in 2016 of the college's Advanced Transportation and Technology Center, also attended by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. The fact that these national figures take time out to tour LBCC's cutting-edge programs speaks volumes to college leadership and efforts to provide a quality workforce to the region.
LBCC is also fortunate to have strong industry and community partnerships that support the college mission. Investment in community colleges is critical in helping businesses meet their workforce needs, enabling them to compete on both a local and global scale.
“We are providing access to training for tomorrow’s economic drivers,” said McArdle. “Community colleges fill a critical need for quality training, meeting workforce and industry needs while helping to keep jobs in our area and in America.”
Community colleges are vital to the educational and economic health of our state. You can help keep our communities strong by contacting your legislators and ask them to support funding for community colleges. Your voice of support is important, and can help our students and our communities succeed. For more information, contact John McArdle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-917-4210.
About Linn-Benton Community College: More than 19,000 students rely on Linn-Benton Community College each year for higher education including career technical education, transfer degree programs, professional development, corporate training, small business development, community education classes and more. Serving the mid-Willamette Valley with six locations including its fully comprehensive campus, LBCC partners with multiple business and industries to enrich the community and support economic growth. LBCC students choose from more than 80 programs and go on to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders, skilled workers and community builders.