ISU Headlines

ISU electronics graduates in high demand

Posted October 31, 2006

Electronics careers are far from extinction, as many may believe. While the current workforce continues to reach retirement and leave positions in various industries the opportunities are many for new college graduates.

On a daily basis, Idaho State University College of Technology administration and faculty work with companies seeking employees to fill the growing number of openings. Many companies actively recruit electronics graduates and this past year, many students received multiple job offers.

“With more than 50 years of training successful graduates, many of whom now work as engineers in large companies and laboratories across the nation, ISU’s electronics programs have a great reputation,” said R. Scott Rasmussen, chair of the ISU electronics department.  “A number of leading electronics industries come here to Pocatello, Idaho, to our program to hire first because they have seen a long track record of exceptional graduates who have done very well in their field. As the need for electronics technicians continues to skyrocket, we are also seeing a number of new companies come here to recruit, which speaks highly again of our stellar reputation out in industry.”

“In order to compete in the fast-paced micro-electronics industry, Micron and other technology companies must have access to qualified, talented and experienced pools of technicians, engineers and professionals. We rely on the most intelligent, skilled and innovative people in the field in order to drive advanced research and development efforts and digital technology innovation,” said Brian Dahl, manager, NAND and Imaging Testing with Micron Technology, Inc. “The demand for technician skill sets continues to grow as companies expand their state-of-the-art production facilities. With our commitment to developing our workforce's technical skills and advancement opportunity programs, Micron is an exciting place to build a career with global impact."

The ISU electronics department offers five program options, allowing students to complete two- and three-year associate degree programs in electronic systems, electromechanical, electronic wireless telecommunications, laser/electro-optics, and instrumentation and automation technology. Electronics graduates are trained to work closely with engineers, physicists, scientists, manufacturing personnel, and other technicians in various electronic fields including: telecommunications; lasers and optics; software development; printed circuit board design; semiconductor manufacturing and testing; instrumentation; factory automation; new product design support and various areas of National Defense. Students receive extensive training in various courses covering power amplifiers, wireless communications, computer programming, robotics control, video equipment, laser-optics, pneumatics, automation control, process high vacuum, engineering support and prototype construction.

“Programs such as those offered by the ISU College of Technology Department of Electronics provide students with the knowledge to succeed in field operations,” said Barry Orgill, of the Williams Northwest Pipeline Corporation, Pocatello District. “Our technicians can progress into increasingly responsible roles such as team leads, specialists and supervisory positions. Graduating students that choose to advance their education with engineering or bachelor of applied technology degrees can provide the potential opportunity to open even more doors.”

Williams said that the demographics of Williams Gas Pipeline system, which includes both Northwest Pipeline Corporation and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line, have a combined workforce with an average age of over 45.  It is expected that 16 percent of that population will most likely retire within three years, and nearly all will retire within 20 years.

“Industry competition, growth, and an overall aging workforce are all contributing to shortages, both current and long-term projections, of qualified personnel in the energy business that provides a clearly vital service to our country,” said Willams. “Diversity is a key component of our strategy for success, as is the just approved multiple new employee postings. These entry-level positions throughout our system are intended to ensure our success by growing new employees into tomorrow’s experts before today’s have left.”

Paul Tomashek of Varian Medical Systems said it is important for those coming into his business field to have a good understanding of core electronics curriculums.

“We will train them on everything else they need,” Tomashek said. “The three-year systems program is great and provides graduates with a solid foundation. We do a test during the interview process and candidates coming from a three-year program are very successful and have a high pass rate. The company does provide added benefits which includes paying 100 percent of tuition in related fields for upgrading degree and advancement into engineering and field-service departments.”

For over 20 years, the ISU electronics programs have placed 98 percent of graduates in various electronic fields and careers. Brian Ellerbeck with Conoco Phillips has, on average, been hiring one technician per year from ISU the last seven years.

“The first technician we hired recently accepted a facility supervisor position in Salt Lake,” Ellerbeck said. “There is always opportunity for technicians to promote to a lead technician, senior technician or switch over to operations and try supervision for a change.”

Electronics careers offer some of the best pay, opportunity, and security for time and costs involved in educational preparation. The electronics program provides a solid foundation and training for successful careers that are excellent choices for both men and women. Skills learned are transferable, providing graduates with great career paths.

“There is a high demand for qualified technicians and opportunities in this business that will exist for a long time,” said Bill Roberts with Hynix. “Starting wages are $18 to $20 an hour with our company, and people can advance into engineering positions very quickly if they choose.”

There continues to be more jobs available in electronics fields than there are graduates to fill them. The ISU electronics programs are now accepting students for January and August 2007 enrollment. For more information or to apply to the electronics programsw, call (208) 282-3400.