Energy and Science Technology Program

January  6, 2010

New Energy & Science Technician Program fills need in growing field

Published in the Woodinville Weekly
Monday, January 4, 2010
By Deborah Stone

Lake Washington Technical College has garnered a reputation for creating new programs that address the employment needs, both present and future, of the business and industry communities in the region.

Its latest is the Energy & Science Technician associate degree program, which prepares students for employment in areas such as biomedical and pharmaceutical labs, manufacturing operations, oil and gas companies, environmental positions in the public and private sectors and technical representatives.

According to Professor Grace Lasker, co-director of the program, the demand for trained individuals in this field is expected to grow in the future.

She says, "The state’s current supply of workers who have completed mid-level preparation – more than one year, but less than four years of postsecondary training or education – will meet only 77 percent of the expected employer demand during 2009 -2014." She adds, "An October 2008 Clean Edge study indentified five clean-energy sectors that provide the best opportunities for Oregon and Washington to take the lead in clean-energy capital and job creation. They are: solar photovoltaic manufacturing, wind-power development, green-building design services, sustainable bioenergy and smart-grid technologies."

Lasker continues to cite statistics that show Washington is poised to increase the number of green jobs in the state in the next two decades. "We now have about 13,075 green jobs and that could rise to over 100,000 by 2038, with nearly 50,000 of those jobs to be located in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region," she says. "The forecast is good for this industry and the best part of the college’s program is the versatility the student has when they finish in terms of job placement.

"Because they are versed in the theory and science behind energy and science, they can be placed within any organization that has a need for a student with such a background. As you know, we are in the ‘Technology Corridor,’ so this equates to a wide variety of possible employment opportunities, especially when the economy rebounds."

In the first year of the program, students will focus on general sciences, with courses in math, statistics, social science, biology, chemistry, physics and computers. In the second year, they will be introduced to the various energies and direct their studies toward environmental, chemical, agricultural or manufacturing specialties.

They will receive hands-on experience, as well as do an internship in the field of their specialization.

Some of the companies that Lasker and her co-director, Dr. George Dalich, have had contact with in regards to the development of the program include Puget Sound Energy, Snohomish PUD, City of Seattle, Bonneville Power Administration, Washington Clean Energy Alliance, Waste Management, McKinstry, MicroSurgical Technology, City of Kirkland, Department of Veteran Affairs and Aerojet. In addition to the Associate of Applied Science degree, the college also offers certificates in Bioenergy, Energy Technology and Industrial/Laboratory. Each of these programs takes three quarters to complete and is aimed at individuals seeking fundamental knowledge that can be applied within the specified industry fields.

Thus far, the response to the new curricula offerings has been very positive.

"We have 25 students who started in the fall," says Lasker. "And we’re adding more each quarter. The program is proving to be very popular because people see that the potential for employment in the future is good."