West Hills College Lemoore graduated its first group of students from the Industrial Automation program. The students completed the 18 unit certificate in December and were celebrated during a ceremony on Feb. 26 on campus in Lemoore.
“The world of manufacturing is changing and implementing new technologies so quickly,” said Kris Costa, Dean of Career Technical Education at West Hills College Lemoore. “Our students have to be equipped with the skills necessary for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow. The launch of this program is an important step for West Hills College Lemoore to provide training and workforce development options for Kings and adjacent County students and employers. It is an answer to what we consistently hear from employers that are trying to hire a skilled workforce and struggle to fill their employment needs.”
Ruben Lopez, Victor Alvarado, and Marvin Babiera earned certificates in Industrial Automation and were presented with them during the ceremony attended by the program instructors and industry partner, Ed Mendes from Ruiz Food Products, Inc.
Employers in the area have been heavily involved in the development of the coursework and equipment to launch the certificate. Central Valley Meat Company, Ruiz Foods Products, Olam International, VF Outdoor, Electric Motor Shop, and many others have been regularly meeting with instructors to build a program that employers need.
Students who completed the program are eligible to complete their Associate’s and then complete their Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Automation at Bakersfield College for a fraction of the cost of a Bachelor’s at a university, through an agreement between the two colleges.
“There are many advantages for our students to completing units at West Hills College Lemoore instead of going straight to a university,” said Jim Rooney, faculty in the Industrial Automation program. “They can go to school close to home, have easy access to classes and friendly faces and they can save money. This gives our students access to high demand, high wage programs that prepare them for jobs that they can get immediately after graduation.”