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PCC Offers 15 "Full-Ride" Microelectronics Scholarships to Washington County Residents

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The Microelectronics Technology program at Portland Community College has 15 academic scholarships available to Washington County residents for the 1997-98 academic year, beginning fall term 1997. Residents who are interested in a career as a technician in the semiconductor industry are encouraged to contact the program at 614-2701 for an application. The scholarships can be renewed for one additional year.

The scholarship will pay for tuition, books and incidental fees for the academic year, approximately $2,500 each. Requirements include residency in Washington County and qualifying for entry-level coursework in PCC’s Writing 121 and Math 95 classes. Students must also maintain full-time status, accomplished by registering and completing 12 or more credits per term; and earn a minimum of a "C" in each graded class. Other types of financial aid will not prevent someone from receiving the microelectronics scholarship.

Scholarship applications can be returned to the Microelectronics Technology program beginning July 15. The scholarships will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. "We will cut off when we get 15 eligible people for the program," said Deborah Hewitt, director of the program.

Microelectronics Technology is located at PCC’s workforce training center, part of the Capital Center, on N.W. 185th and Walker Road in Aloha. It is a two-year degree program that prepares individuals for the rapidly growing semiconductor industry in Oregon, much of it located in Washington County. Upon completion, graduates are qualified as technicians and can start earning between $25,000 and $40,000 their first year. The program also transfers to the Oregon Institute of Technology where students can receive a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering.

The scholarship money to train technicians comes from the Washington County Strategic Investment Program (SIP). The SIP uses property tax-abatement funds granted to semiconductor companies to give Washington County schools and residents the education and training resources needed for this growing industry. The partnership between industry, the county and schools has produced programs at both the high school and college level.

As part of the agreement, PCC will receive $2.3 million over a five-year period to help train individuals to work at semiconductor companies like Intel, OKI Semiconductor and Integrated Device Technology. The college has received $875,000 in the last two years to set up the school’s microelectronics lab, develop the curriculum with industry input, and operate the program.

"This program qualifies people as technicians in the semiconductor industry and technicians are one of the big unfilled but well-paying jobs in this industry," said Hewitt. "It’s that nice middle-tier: You can earn a two-year degree in case you don’t have the time or inclination for the four-year, and it will give you a family-wage job. And you can transfer to OIT if you decide to get a bachelor’s."

According to a report recently released by the Semiconductor Workforce Consortium, growth is greater than expected. It is projected that 6,589 workers will be needed in Oregon and Southwest Washington through the year 2000, up 45 percent from 1995 estimates. Of that number, companies say they’ll need an additional 1,677 technicians between 1997 and 2000.

"The scholarships will help address the gap," said Hewitt. "It is a positive step. The program at PCC has almost doubled in the last year, but there is still room for significantly more students," she added.

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