Onondaga County allots $5 million for OCC to build clean room
Onondaga Community College is revving up its programs and facilities to prepare for Micron and the jobs the semiconductor plant will create in central New York.
When Micron announced in October that it was building the largest semiconductor fabrication facility in the country in the town of Clay, it also promised to make investments in the community. Among them, $5 million for OCC to build a “clean room” that will help train students to become technicians at the Micron plant.
OCC President Warren Hilton said the school is still in the planning stages of creating a “clean room”. Part of that is visiting other schools to see what an academic “clean room” looks like.
"We went and visited Norfolk State University in Virginia last week because Micron helped build a clean room there," Hilton said. "[We saw] how their clean room was build and the facilities."
He said among other things, students will get a feel of what it’s like to wear what those in the business call “bunny suits”.
"We’re going to be able to gown up the folks we’re training to give them that experience," Hilton said. "Those individuals working in that clean room facility, if they’re an equipment technician some of them wear that suit 10 hours a day in that facility. So give them the experience before they even land at the job is going to be very critical.”
The clean room minimizes small airborne particles, and will be housed in a space currently occupied by the campus bookstore. Hilton said on the academic front, some electrical and mechanical engineering programs already lend themselves to the semiconductor industry. OCC will be building more targeted programs for Micron including a short-term workforce certificate program, a one-year certificate, and a two-year degree.
So far, there’s interest.
"We’re getting a number of inquires through [our] website," Hilton said.
Onondaga county is also chipping in $5 million for the facility that will train students to be technicians and operators at Micron’s chip fab plant.
Micron has announced that about 9,000 jobs will be created once the fab is up and running.