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Cutting Edge Programs Launch in Redmond Technology Center

By Linda Orcelletto

Redmond Technology Education Center - medFor decades, timber, tourism and recreation dominated Central Oregon's economy. In recent years, however, technology-focused businesses have helped diversify the regions portfolio. With the opening of COCC's Redmond Technology Education Center students and businesses alike will have access to resources, support and education in support of this flourishing sector of our economy.

The Technology Center on the corner of SW Veterans Way and Salmon Avenue on COCC's 25-acre campus, has been the vision of college planners for nearly 15 years. Its goal was to meet the fast paced technological needs of businesses, both known and unknown.

"The Technology Center is the first physical representation people see when they exit Roberts Field (the Redmond Airport), showing that Central Oregon is a technologically focused area," says Matt McCoy, vice president for administration for COCC. "Its location across from the airport was intentional. The potential economic impact of technology businesses relocating to Central Oregon is substantial."

The 34,000 square foot center, which opened in September, was specifically designed to offer technology-based programs that train and/or re-train residents. The innovative building also allows for flexibility to adjust to future program needs. The Tech Centers setting in Redmond is centrally located in the region and is complementary with the light industrial environment of Redmond. The programs center on professions and careers that allow for family wage jobs.

"When COCC is looking at new programs to offer our communities, the first criteria is employability of graduates in living wage jobs," says McCoy.

In addition to College planners and an advisory committee, COCC also partnered with area businesses to ensure programs were meeting the demands of the areas economy. They focused on offering curriculum required for trained employees in high-tech areas.

One emphasis is the ever-advancing field of automotive technology where the need for qualified employees to maintain electronics systems in today's current vehicles is constant. The new Automotive Technology in Electronics and Diagnostics (TED) program focuses on hybrid power systems, clean diesel and on-board networking. TED, which is in addition to the current Master Automotive Technician certificate and Automotive Management degree at the Bend campus, allows students to take other short term certificate programs while taking classes in the two year program.

"Education is life-long. We encourage all students to continue with ongoing training," says Ken Mays, professor of the current automotive program and developer of TED. "No one should be satisfied with where they are."

The high-tech Technology Center offers multiple vehicle bays that allow for hands-on learning, complete with a video system so everyone in the class is able to see what is being taught. Students obtain real life knowledge by getting hands on experiences with area car dealerships. This collaboration allows everyone to benefit; students have real life training and businesses are able to recruit potential employees. TED also partners with the Redmond high schools and community colleges throughout Oregon.

Another program currently in development by Bruce Emerson, professor of Physics at COCC, will train students in Non Destructive Technology and Inspection (NDT/I). With fewer than 10 programs in the nation, this associate degree in applied science will focus on the aviation and medical field because of local industry connections. Classes will train students in a set of techniques that look for possible defects in parts without destroying the final product.

Emerson explains the concept behind NDT/I. "By being able to determine if there is a problem with a particular part, it is less expensive to replace one piece of equipment instead of the entire system. Also, there is a greater risk of damage to the entire product if a part is not fixed."

Both Emerson and Mays say the two programs, housed in the same building align well with each other and build bridges between technology and academia. The professional, board room-style open study areas throughout the building promote conversion between what may seem to be dissimilar programs.

In addition to TED and NDT/I, the building also houses the College's Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence and Development (CEED) and Small Business Development Center, along with several classrooms, computer labs and student study spaces.

The building, designed by BBT Architects, not only houses technology programs, but itself is also on the leading edge of technological and sustainable practices. It is the first Earth Advantage Commercial building to receive the platinum certification in Oregon. Environmentally conscious fixtures and equipment includes electrochromic glass windows that automatically adjust room lighting from outside ambient light, motion detection lights, low flow faucets and toilets, showers (to encourage biking to class), heat exchangers and use of natural light. Native plants surround the landscape of the Center.

The Redmond Technology Education Center at COCCs Redmond Campus will give students the opportunity to pursue a career in technology in a state-of-the-art building while at the same time allowing them to recreate in the outdoor paradise of Central Oregon.