First Employees Graduating This Month Thanks to FRCC Classes Offered at Their Workplace

(Photo courtesy Front Range Community College)

By Jessica Peterson | FRCC

Front Range Community College (FRCC) has partnered with Broadcom, Inc., to offer college classes on-site at the company’s semiconductor manufacturing facility in Fort Collins.

This gives Broadcom employees an opportunity to earn professional certificates or associate degrees through FRCC—right at their place of employment.

Broadcom requires at least a two-year degree for employees to advance to an equipment or facility technician role, but nearly half of their 1,000 fabrication employees do not currently meet this degree minimum. To provide the opportunity for employees to advance in their careers, the company is getting creative to find ways to support its employees who want to pursue higher education.

“This is a really exciting partnership for Broadcom,” said Carrie Pelton, vice president of Fabrication Operations, Broadcom. “Through the FRCC program, we make it easier for our employees to complete their associates degrees, and in the end, Broadcom gets highly-trained workers. It’s a win-win scenario.”

Broadcom already provides tuition assistance and encourages employees to enroll in FRCC’s Automation Engineering Technology and Electronics Engineering Technology programs, which are offered at FRCC’s state-of-the-art Center for Integrated Manufacturing in Longmont.

Bringing College to Broadcom

“Broadcom employees can’t always make the drive to get to classes,” said Chris McGilvray, dean of FRCC’s School of Manufacturing, Automotive & Construction Technology.

“They work full time, sometimes on all-night shifts that end at 6 a.m. So, a 45-minute drive—each way—becomes an insurmountable obstacle.”

“In order to make these programs more accessible to Broadcom employees, FRCC decided to take our classes to them.”

“This is a truly innovative partnership,” said FRCC President Colleen Simpson, EdD. “FRCC’s mission is to meet students where they are—in order to help them improve their lives through education. With Broadcom, we are literally doing just that.”

This month, the first cohort of Broadcom employees is graduating from FRCC with their certificate in electronics assembly. 100% of their courses were offered on site at their place of work. These students now have the opportunity to build on their certificate with additional coursework to earn an associate degree.

Moving On Up

Broadcom employee Dale Gallagher has been in the fabrication industry since 2004. “As a working professional and single father of three, I never thought it would be possible for me to go back to school,” he says.

Being able to attend class at his place of work was a game changer for Dale, who works as an equipment support technician. “That made it very easy. My free time is limited, but they offered a class an hour before my shift—that works with my life.”

“Plus I didn’t have to travel,” he adds.

“This program integrated seamlessly into my family schedule and career.”

Dale had not taken a single class since high school, but he started taking courses last summer as part of Broadcom’s first FRCC cohort. He is now graduating with a certificate in electronics assembly. He plans to continue in the program to earn two additional associate degrees—one in automation & engineering technology and one in electronics engineering technology.

Keeping Up With Technology

“Our industry is changing quickly with new technologies,” Dale says. “Manpower is becoming more automated, but this is a way I can make myself more valuable to stay in the industry.”

“It’s basically free education. It’s an investment in myself.”

Once he earns a degree, Dale will have more options with his company. “That degree opens things up. I can move into being a technician with an increased salary.”

Flexible Options

FRCC is making college classes more accessible to Broadcom employees, who can earn college credit by:

  • Taking in-person classes on site in Broadcom’s learning lab in Fort Collins;
  • Participating in online courses;
  • Applying for credits based on their work experience and training (through a process called credit for prior learning); or
  • Doing a combination of all three

Hands-On Learning

Many of the courses in FRCC’s engineering technology programs require a hands-on learning component. To make that possible, Broadcom built a brand-new Learning Lab at its Fort Collins facility with the specialized training equipment that are necessary for these classes. Last fall, FRCC obtained approval from the Higher Learning Commission to designate the Broadcom Fort Collins location an official off-site training facility for the college.

“Our investment in the Broadcom Learning Lab was important and necessary,” said Pelton. “Through the Lab, we can ensure our employees have a direct access to the latest technology and techniques on our campus, and ultimately their degree.”

What’s Next?

The college has identified additional online course options and is expanding opportunities for Broadcom employees to earn credit for prior learning.

“FRCC has a long history of working closely with industry partners to address employee upskilling and reskilling needs,” said Janel Highfill, FRCC’s associate vice president of workforce development. “We are excited about this evolution in our partnership—expanding beyond non-credit training to offer college credit toward certificate and degree credentials on-site for Broadcom employees.”

A New Model

FRCC’s partnership with Broadcom is just one example of how the college is pioneering the way community colleges work with industry. Whether you’re an employer looking to build your workforce, or an employee seeking to develop new skills, Front Range Community College is the partner of choice.

Whatever your industry, FRCC’s Corporate Solutions team knows what businesses are looking for. And they know how to prepare workers for the jobs of today—and beyond.

“We will continue to evolve with every new collaboration,” says FRCC’s Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Janel Highfill. “By constantly exploring new models with our partners, FRCC will continue to find innovative new approaches that work for local industry, our students and the Colorado economy.”

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