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When Tesla and other companies requiring advanced manufacturing skills started to set up shop in Nevada, they needed workers for those manufacturing floors.
That is where Nevada's universities and community colleges have stepped in.
Western Nevada College just expanded its advanced manufacturing lab to offer state-of-the-art training.
"We have an advanced manufacturing program called mechatronics and it aims to meet the growing demands of the manufacturers in our area, including Tesla, Panasonic, Click Bond, GE and others," Mark Ghan, officer in charge of the college, told State of Nevada.
Ghan said the lab and program are one-of-a-kind in the western United States and they offer training for high paying, high demand jobs.
"Someone who completes this program is able to go to just about any manufacturing line and troubleshoot," Ghan said.
Ghan said training employees for future manufacturing jobs is only part of what the college does. He also said it offers a jump start on college.
"The student who takes those first two years here at the college is going to save a bunch of money and is statistically more likely to succeed than kids who may go directly from the high school to the university," he said.
With that in mind, Western Nevada College is part of an effort to pair community colleges with high schools around the state. The dual degree program allows qualified high school students to get a high school diploma while also working on their associate's degree at a community college.
Ghan said students from Western Nevada College who have completed the program have gone on to prestigious four-year universities around the country, including Stanford and Cornell.
"We're really proud of building this program essentially from zero students three years ago, to 500 students today without a lot of resources from either the state or from donors," he said.
Another program at the college that Ghan is proud of is the program to provide classes to inmates in Nevada's prison system.
It started with the head of the school's Veterans' Resource Center wanting to provide programs for incarcerated veterans but it has expanded. It is now available to any inmate who can cover tuition and fees.
Ghan believes the attitude towards community colleges is evolving.
"Historically, I think community colleges have not been given enough attention, but that's changing," he said.
Ghan pointed out that everything from nursing to advanced manufacturing is taught at community colleges and provide an entrance into the workforce.
"All these kinds of programs don't require necessarily a four-year degree and they provide good jobs for these people, and they meet the needs of our growing industry in our region and the state," Ghan said.
Mark Ghan, officer in charge, Western Nevada College
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