Business After School: Students exposed to in-demand careers

By Susan Parrish, Columbian Education Reporter

Published:

 

Business After School

What: Helps high school-aged youth and young adults explore career opportunities in high-growth industries and gather information about job skills they'll need.

When: Upcoming sessions on health care (May), manufacturing (October) and computer science (December).

Partners: Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council developed the program with the Columbia River Economic Development Council, Cowlitz Economic Development Council, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce, Clark College, Washington State University Vancouver and Lower Columbia College.

Contact: Chelsea Chunn, 360-567-1066 or <a href="mailto:cchunn@swwdc.org">cchunn@swwdc.org</a>

On the Web: <a href="http://www.swwdc.org">www.swwdc.org</a>

Business After School

What: Helps high school-aged youth and young adults explore career opportunities in high-growth industries and gather information about job skills they’ll need.

When: Upcoming sessions on health care (May), manufacturing (October) and computer science (December).

Partners: Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council developed the program with the Columbia River Economic Development Council, Cowlitz Economic Development Council, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce, Clark College, Washington State University Vancouver and Lower Columbia College.

Contact: Chelsea Chunn, 360-567-1066 or cchunn@swwdc.org

On the Web: www.swwdc.org

Many industries, including the rapidly expanding drone industry, will be woefully short of qualified engineers, machinists and other technical professionals in the next five to 10 years as older employees retire and labor needs outpace trained workers.

About 3,000 unmanned system — or drone — pilots will be needed to fight wildfires, and 25,000 will be needed in agriculture. Someone will need to design and build those drones.

Those were among the problems addressed at the first Business After School event Monday afternoon in which high school students gathered at Silicon Forest Electronics in Vancouver to learn about prospects in engineering careers.

Developed by Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council, the program is designed for young adults ages 16 to 21 who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Students heard from sales, systems, design, process and manufacturing engineers.

“It’s important to understand how things are built,” said Kevin Syverson, a design engineer at Silicon Forest Electronics.

He pointed to a metal box he designed to house circuit boards that are part of a drone autopilot system.

“The fixture keeps the circuit boards at perfect angles to each other,” Syverson said.

Early in his career, he worked in 2-D AutoCAD, but now he designs with 3-D programs such as Solidworks, he said.

Silicon Forest Electronics, an electronics manufacturing services company, is a contract manufacturer of printed circuit board and electromechanical assemblies for the aerospace, drone, medical and instrumentation industries.

Jay Schmidt, a sales engineer, encouraged students to find internships to give them hands-on experience while they are still in high school.

“The more you can get your hands dirty, the better,” Schmidt told the boys. “Get out from behind your computer and your PDA (personal digital assistant). Talk to people.”

Frank Nichols, president and CEO of the company, said an engineering career can be used in many fields and can be rewarding and even fun.

“I’ve traveled all over the world because of it,” he said.

This week, more two-hour Business After School work site visits are scheduled at Kiewit Infrastructure West, GeoDesign Longview, Columbia Machine, MacKay Sposito and Elkhart Plastics.

The workforce development council teamed with local groups, including chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and colleges, to create the Business After School program.

Its aim is to help high-schoolers learn about and explore high-growth industries and gather information about career opportunities and skills they’ll need to obtain jobs.