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Students are electric over Electronics Engineering
Photos and Story by James Hill
There was a time Ismael Franco didn’t know a thing about computers. Now, he’s a computer expert.
"I was always interested in electronics as a kid," he said. "I loved taking things apart. But after going through the Portland Community College’s electronics engineering program, I knew a lot more. The rewarding thing about it all is that I’m not afraid to use a computer nowadays. I’m confident in the knowledge I’ve gained in electronics."
Franco earned his associate’s degree from PCC’s electronics engineering program in 1999. Today, Franco is a hardware engineer with Intel and is working part-time to earn his bachelor’s degree from the Oregon Institute of Technology. For the last seven years, he has worked on desktop motherboards as a content expert and provides support to design engineers on how to follow standard practice.
"As soon as I graduated, I’ve been at Intel ever since," said Franco, a native of Mexico who now lives in Hillsboro.
The Electronics Engineering Technology program is forging partnerships with local companies and regularly has industry experts sit on its advisory board to make sure the curriculum is current and of quality. This program, which offers a one-year certificate and a two-year associate’s degree, combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience in state-of-the-art laboratories.
"It is a strong program and has prestige among the industry," said Sanda Nedelcu, instructor and chair of the program. "And a lot of our students who have graduated have come back to serve on our advisory board."
Graduates can continue their education to obtain a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering technology and related programs. With an associate’s degree in hand, students can find employment in a variety of jobs, including circuits and system testing, product development, prototype construction and testing, circuit and systems modification, systems operation and manufacturing. Starting salary with a degree is $30,000-$40,000 and up to $50,000 with experience.
Past PCC students have found work at such companies as Intel, Axiom Electronics, Cascade, Microtech, Credence Systems, ESI, Hewlett Packard, Maxim, Micro Systems Engineering, OECO, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Radisys, Selectron and Tektronix. Former student Alan Muench was able to secure a job at Maxim Integrated Products after earning his degree.
"The instructors are very knowledgeable and are accessible to the students. The students are a very close-knit group too, almost like a second family," he said. "The instructors at PCC were instrumental in shaping my resume and getting me the first interview."
Nedelcu says its part of the philosophy of the program. "We love to work with our students," said the native of Romania. "We have plenty of instructors who are dedicated to meet the needs of our students."
Franco can attest to that.
"One of the things I liked was that the classes were small," Franco said. "I got a lot of one-on-one time with my instructors and they made sure I understood the material. They prepared me for the Intel interview and I got the job. I owe PCC for where I am."
For more information, call the Admissions Office at 503-977-4519, or visit the Electronics Engineering Technology web page.