Sierra College Finds Formula to Producing Technicians
With support from employers like Harris & Bruno International in Roseville, the Sierra College Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Collaborative has established successful student pathways from high school to college to employment as technicians and engineers.
(Rocklin, CA) Within the past few years, over 10 Sierra College students have been hired to work as technicians at Harris & Bruno International. With manufacturing facilities in Roseville, CA, the company produces the most automated and reliable coating and inking systems for commercial printing presses worldwide. Through a collaborative effort, Sierra College has found a formula to produce technicians prepared with the skills sought by local employers.
Markus Fredrickson, both a Sierra College student and part-time Harris & Bruno International employee, has benefited from the efforts of business and educators to work together to create an interest among students in advanced manufacturing careers and prepare them to work for local employers. Fredrickson attended Oakmont High School in Roseville where the engineering lab has been supplied with a 3D printer, laser cutter and CNC Mill by the Sierra College STEM Collaborative. His Design and Engineering teacher was Steve Dicus, who as a member of the Sierra STEM Collaborative benefited from networking with industry, college faculty and other high schools teachers in design, engineering and advanced manufacturing.
Fredrickson first learned about Harris & Bruno on a class tour organized with help from the Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) in celebration of National Manufacturing Day. "When I saw what employees were doing at Harris & Bruno, I thought that maybe I could do that kind of work," said Fredrickson. "At that point in high school, I didn't really have a career goal. The tour motivated me to go to Sierra College and study Mechatronics."
With mentoring from Dicus and advice given on the tour, Fredrickson applied for a summer job at Harris & Bruno. He started working as an Assembly Shop Assistant and continues to work part-time while attending Sierra College. "What I am doing at work is exactly what I am learning in Sierra College Mechatronics classes," said Fredrickson. "I could name all the components and follow the drawing to place them in the correct place on the electronic control panel. What I learned in Mr. Dicus' class and Sierra College really did prepare me for this work."
This parallel between the classroom and workplace is intentional according to Leandra Wilson, Director of Strategic Operations & Human Resources, Harris & Bruno International. "Employers serve on advisory committees for Sierra College programs," said Wilson. "Mechatronics and engineering faculty members have been wonderful in taking our feedback and incorporating the workplace skills into the curriculum. They listen to our needs and we see the results when we hire technicians from Sierra College."
Growing a local technical workforce is part of the corporate culture at Harris & Bruno explained Wilson. "We are committed to working with educators to teach young people the needed skills and to provide opportunities for successful careers in manufacturing in Placer County," said Wilson. "Many students have never thought of a career in manufacturing. They may not know that they'd like hands-on work until they come on a tour or take classes that introduce design, engineering and mechatronics."
Harris & Bruno makes employment attractive to students by recruiting in the technical classes, making schedules flexible and offering rotations in a variety of departments. "We work around the students' schedules; they can work on the day, night or weekend shift part-time," said Wilson. "It takes more time and effort to work with students but the effort is worthwhile because many of them stay on through university and after graduation. They can use what they learn at college in different departments and we help them match their abilities to positions that can shape their career paths."
Fredrickson has benefited from the supportive environment. "What I like best about my job is that it is hands-on," said Fredrickson. "I really like putting components together and being creative so I have decided to major in Electrical Engineering. At Harris & Bruno, I can work and gain skills while going to school."
Fredrickson's story exemplifies the goal of the Sierra College STEM Collaborative according to Carol Pepper-Kittredge, CACT Director. "With industry support, we work with innovative instructors to transform education and prepare students for Advanced Manufacturing careers," said Pepper-Kittredge. "Dedicated community partners, like Harris & Bruno, are essential to making the connection between school and employment. It is a formula that works."
About Sierra College STEM Collaborative
The Sierra STEM Collaborative is funded by California Community College Chancellor's Office, to create a pipeline of students interested in technical careers. Students can pursue Welding, Mechatronics, Engineering, Energy Technology and Drafting & Engineering Support at Sierra College. For information, go to www.sierraschoolworks.com or contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Sierra College at (916) 660-7801.
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