CONTACT US

X-ray News

MiraCosta’s Technology Career Institute (TCI) is on Fire!

FCX - MiraCosta TCI Thumbnail

At Creative Electron, we are big fans of MiraCosta College’s Technology Career Institute (TCI).  Fireside Chat with the Xperts hosts David Kruidhoff and Megan Burgsma were very excited to welcome TCI’s Linda Kurokawa, Kate MacArevey-Colello, and Brent Bjorndal for this weeks presentation.  For good measure, Creative Electron’s newly minted General Manager, Mariem Ortiz, and Alan Galicia, a TCI graduate, joined in.

This is a fantastic conversation and provides an excellent introduction to the important work that MiraCosta’s TCI is doing for our community and local economy.  From Engineering Technician to Commercial Brewing, and so much more, TCI is providing hands on training for great paying, career oriented jobs that are in demand in our region.  Through our long standing partnership with TCI, Creative Electron has both supported and benefited from this outstanding program.

Whether you are a prospective student, or an employer seeking talent, this conversation is worth a listen.  Enjoy this one, and learn more about MiraCosta’s Technology Career Institute here.  Find more Fireside Chats with the Xperts here.

 

 

Transcript:

David Kruidhof:
Time for another Fireside Chat with the experts. Today, we’ve got a lot of experts with us. Really excited to have MiraCosta College, particularly their TCI program here with us today. I have Megan Bergsma again joining me as cohost. Good to have you back, Megan. See you again.

Megan Bergsma:
Likewise.

David Kruidhof:
Why don’t you introduce everyone to the team we have here?

Megan Bergsma:
Yeah. We have our newly promoted general manager, Mariem from Creative Electron. Do you want to say hi, Mariem?

Mariem Ortiz:
Hello, everyone.

Megan Bergsma:
All right. We also have Alan. He is one of our service leads and also a MiraCosta TCI grad, so perfect segue to this Fireside Chat. Alan, you want to say hi?

Alan Galicia:
How is it going, everyone?

Megan Bergsma:
All right. And then on the MiraCosta TCI team, we have Linda, Kate and Brent. Do you want to guys also talk about how long have you been with MiraCosta TCI, your position, and the highlight of your job? Let’s start with Linda.

Linda Kurokawa:
Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Linda Kurokawa, and I’ve worked at MiraCosta College for 15 years and love it. I am the Executive Director for Community Education and Workforce Development. I think the thing I love most about my job is the… Two things really that MiraCosta allows me to be creative and entrepreneurial so that I can establish new programs that serve our community. That’s a lot of fun to be able to do that. The second part that I love is that we transform lives with what we do. Some of the things we do are so valuable and so needed that it changes the entire person’s direction and can make a huge difference and that just gets me out of bed every morning.

Megan Bergsma:
Thanks, Linda. Wow. What a great statement. Yeah. I love MiraCosta as well, and very true to what you just said, and we have Kate. Kate, do you want to also introduce yourself too?

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
Sure. Hi, my name is Kate MacArevey-Colello and I’m the instructor in the Engineering Technician Program here at TCI. Interesting thing about me is that I’m also a graduate of the program as part of cohort nine, and I feel very fortunate to be back here. My favorite thing about this program is knowing how much it changed my life and feeling like I can help have that same impact for other people as they come through the program as well.

Megan Bergsma:
All right, thanks Kate. Last but not least, Brent.

Brent Bjorndal:
Hi everyone. My name is Brent Bjorndal. I help assist all of our work skills programs here at TCI. I help assist instructors. I have worked with industry I’ve been at MiraCosta roughly two and a half, almost three years coming up now and to piggyback on what Linda said, a highlight of my job is definitely getting students jobs and definitely careers, more so than jobs. Number two is working with industry to see how industry can work with us. A lot of the time education and industry don’t seem to align and because we do things a little bit differently here, I have a unique opportunity to seen how industry can work with MiraCosta TCI, specifically.

David Kruidhof:
You mentioned working a little bit differently there at TCI. What gives you that freedom? What is it? What makes that a little bit more agile?

Brent Bjorndal:
Sure thing. MiraCosta TCI is the not-for-credit branch of MiraCosta. Traditionally, people think of the for-credit side of MiraCosta where you would go, let’s say on a Monday, Wednesday schedule to get your math classes, your reading classes transfer to a four-year schooling and get a degree.

Brent Bjorndal:
We’re the not-for-credit side of MiraCosta College. Basically we deal with everything here in certificate-based programs. You don’t graduate with an ABC or D, you graduate with a certificate and hopefully a job afterwards. We work with the students and industry to help people place them with industry and because we’re the not-for-credit branch of MiraCosta, we don’t have to go through all of our internal governing boards like the for-credit side. We’re actually a much more up-to-date educational body because we can turn around and adapt and change our programs much more quicker than the credit side.

Brent Bjorndal:
We start all of our programs here with industry advisory boards. There’s not going to be a program out there unless there’s a job for that program. We meet with industry to make sure that one, there’s jobs out there and then two, we make sure that we’re training the technicians to have the skills that are needed for those types of positions. After each cohort, which is kind of like a semester, we call them cohorts because they start and end together. We meet back with industry to provide those industry updates, to see where we can change and improve our courses. Our courses are always up-to-date or the most up-to-date they can be coming from an educational side.

Linda Kurokawa:
The other advantage I’ll add to Brent’s is that we can run on a schedule that doesn’t meet a school or faculties need, but rather meets the need of the individual and industry. Our programs can be all completed in a semester and it doesn’t mean that it’s less rigorous. It doesn’t mean that it’s less hours than something that might take 18 months to two years to complete. But if you liken it to a dinner, we give them just the meat and potatoes and all of the side dishes or something, they can always take at another time. We give them the essential job skills that they need are these essential jobs.

Megan Bergsma:
I actually want to chime in and say what’s your ideal population? What’s what does TCI serve? What’s your ideal population?

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
I can talk a little bit about the types of students that arrive in this class. First of all, we get all kinds of students here. It say what they have in common is probably something that I know Creative Electron also values, which is a strong sense of curiosity. People who tend to do well in this class or students who enjoy hands-on learning, maybe there are people who work on their car, maybe there are people who like to build things, maybe there are people who knit, maybe there are people who love to cook. There are all kinds of hobbies that are hands-on and I think having some background like that and enjoying that kind of learning, that kind of personal growth is a strong harbinger of success in this program.

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
We also get students who like me went through engineering school and are craving a little bit more hands-on experience, a little bit more practical know-how. This is a great opportunity for a student who feels they have a strong book learning background, but they want a little bit more hands-on. Basically we’re looking for anybody who’s interested in boosting their technical skills, building a broad knowledge base of technical information, and who’s interested in leveraging this great job market right now. If you’re feeling like you could potentially do well as an engineering technician, but you don’t quite have the knowledge or the experience that makes your resume get noticed in a giant pile of resumes, this is a great program to help you make connections and get noticed in industry.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, I know. Over the years we’ve worked with MiraCosta TCI, quite a bit in your Engineering Technician Program in particular people that have come out of there have been awesome from multiple angles. Mariem, maybe you can talk a little bit more about that. You’ve been probably our primary liaison with TCI over the last few years.

Mariem Ortiz:
Yeah. We’ve had around 10 students come to us and they are always very successful here. One of the key points that Kate was mentioning is that curiosity. We always say, we can’t teach curiosity. Everything else, all the technical stuff, that’s easy. But that spark, that’s what we look for when we want someone to join the team. One of the other things that MiraCosta does extremely well is give a really well-rounded education so they’re prepared to deal with customers, prepared to like they have better time management skills, self-starters accountability. That kind of completeness along with the technical skills that they acquire in such a short period of time has been awesome for us. But we started, I mean, we have people in the assembly department manufacturing, we have people in inventory service department, our service technicians, we have people in the software department, sales department.

Mariem Ortiz:
Really, it kind of depends on the interest of the person. One of the things, I mean, you guys have such a diverse group of people that go through the program. Each person has a background that helps them be here more successfully, right? I’d say, probably the department that has seen the most students is the service department. We actually structured our training program and our onboarding program specifically to the MiraCosta graduates because it was such an awesome fit. That’s the program that we still use today. We assume that’s the base level that you come with the MiraCosta TCI knowledge, and then we build upon that. It’s been great.

Megan Bergsma:
I definitely want to also segue Alan. Alan was a TCI grad. Alan, how did your experience with the program shape you to prepare yourself in a career at Creative Electron?

Alan Galicia:
I graduated from the TCI engineering program and I actually found it when I was looking for… To establish a career, I was going through different college catalogs. I was looking at different apprenticeships programs here in my area, and everything was two to four years. I was thinking, I cannot wait two to four years to start a career. Somehow, I ran into the non-credit brochure and found the Engineering Technician Program. They said, “Hey, in 600 hours, we’re going to teach you skills. We’re going to give you work experience and we’re going to help you get a job.” I said, “This is it right here for me.” As soon as the next cohort was going to start, I signed up and was able to go through the program, complete and learn all those skills necessary to get that, go through the work experience program, which actually helped me get hired at Creative Electron.

David Kruidhof:
We’ve very much enjoyed having you. I think you came on as a tech, initially, a service tech, right? Now, I’ve done a number of awesome roles or done a number of roles awesomely, I should say, here in Creative Electron. I think one of the features that I thought was very unique about this Engineering Tech Program is that it’s not evening classes, right? Like Alan was saying, I can take a long time, but it’s actually 8:00 to 5:00, am I right?

Brent Bjorndal:
Yep. 8:00 to 4:30, like a full-time job, eight hours.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah. That skill set that drives home, you need to show up on time and work a full day. That ethic really comes through when we’re interviewing people here at Creative Electron, finding people who are fresh out of college are willing to do 8:00 to 4:30, 8:00 to 5:00. It’s a little bit tricky.

Megan Bergsma:
This could be for anyone in the group. I definitely want to know how this relationship between Creative Electron in the industry and the education of TCI, especially the Engineering Technician Program. How did it all start?

Brent Bjorndal:
Sure. I’ll go ahead and cover that one. I actually do believe that we were introduced to Griffin who’s working at Creative Electron, maybe through mutual industry partner, but Griffin is a big supporter of the colleges and the trade schools and because we do have our students here from 8:00 till 4:30, Monday through Friday, we have the luxury of being able to send these students out to industry partners who are obviously on that same working schedule. Creative Electron was one of the first companies that we actually piloted what we call our Work Experience Program. Alan just mentioned that, but our Work Experience Program is very similar to internships for lack of a better term, but similar to how we’re not the same as the… For credit side of MiraCosta, we don’t use the word internships because people generally have their own image of what an internship is, and we’re not filing papers and we’re not getting coffee for people for the most part.

Brent Bjorndal:
When we have our work experience, they are getting work done at an industry partner so they can show up a few times a week to do projects on site, or we can take what we call like back-burner projects and work on them over here at TCI. But that’s generally the relationship that started with Creative Electron.

Brent Bjorndal:
They were one of our first industry partners to pilot this Work Experience Program all the way back, I think in cohort six, we’re now in a cohort 19 looking to start cohort 20 coming up here soon. They’ve taken students, every single cohort for what we call work experience. It’s no strings attached so it’s great for both us and industry partners. They can get a little bit of work done there for a little bit of free labor costs. Students get something that they can add on top of their resume. It’s also something that I can talk about in an interview, and obviously it’s a very long extended tryout, sort of like a try before you buy a situation where if there’s a student that’s working out, Creative Electron can extend a job opportunity at the end of the Work Experience Program. But again, no strings attached, nothing necessary, but that’s the working relationship we’ve had with Creative Electron from the very beginning and continue to foster it today.

David Kruidhof:
I think I’m allowed to say, we have one of those going on right now, or the full offer out there.

Mariem Ortiz:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Kruidhof:
I hope I’m not getting him in trouble. He hasn’t graduated yet. But sometimes-

Mariem Ortiz:
One thing to-

David Kruidhof:
Oh yeah, go ahead.

Mariem Ortiz:
One thing I’d like to add to what Brent was saying, we also had like current employees that came from the program without us knowing, and they were great. Then when they mentioned that we’re like, “Oh, this person has that.” Absolutely, that’s a plus. We actually like the Work Experience Program. At this point, we know the quality of the students that come through here are so good that we don’t even use it as a trial buy. It’s more of a, “Hey, let’s get you started on the training. Let’s start onboarding so that when you graduate, you’re ready to start as soon as possible.”

Megan Bergsma:
What do you think is in the future with the collaboration between the education and industry partners?

Linda Kurokawa:
I’d be glad to answer that one. We, as Brent mentioned earlier, industry and education has a very challenging history. Oftentimes education thinks they’re meeting all the needs of their local community and the industry and the industry knows very well that they’re not. It’s a tenuous relationship sometimes that best. When you build a center like ours, where industry is your focus for being able to create new talent pipeline, as well as help individuals become these noble people who work at these locations, it kind of sets the tone for a very different relationship where everything that we do at TCI is it revolves around those two factors, the students and industry, and how it is that we’re serving both to the best degree possible. But these programs are expensive to run and they are the most expensive at a community college because of the equipment, because of the supplies needed, because of obtaining a high talent and wanting to pay them well, which we don’t always have the opportunity to do so because I would pay them an awful lot more than we can.

Linda Kurokawa:
It leads us to believe that there needs to be a model for this kind of accelerated work skills programs. But the other side of that is that when you have accelerated work skills, you create individuals who are also often entrepreneurs. As we began to watch people graduate from our program and not come to wonderful companies like Creative Electron that go off to start their own businesses, I realized that we became the mom and dad of budding new industry. That’s the best way possible to endear a relationship between a new industry or a current industry with relationships that we have with you and the education. I see a future where we can build a larger center, have these programs and also cater to this entrepreneurial side of those who want to have the startup and provide a safe harbor and a design studio and students and equipment for new entrepreneurs and get them going, maybe five or six or seven of them at a time.

Linda Kurokawa:
Then in the future when they are launched and they are successful, have them profit share back to pay the overhead of that building and allow more students to access these programs at reduce an ever ongoing reduction of the price of their tuition because we are fee-based. We are the only entity at MiraCosta that cannot use general funds, and that’s both a bad thing and a good thing. The bad thing is, it’s hard to fund these programs, but the good part is that we don’t have to follow quite the same rules that make it so onerous for the credit programs to align with what industry needs. We can align, but as it is expensive, we do have to find a way to offset our costs. In the past we’ve used grants and donations, but that’s not very sustainable. That’s not a great plan.

Linda Kurokawa:
We’ve got an idea to build a new center. The idea with that with the working name is TCI Two, where we’ll have entrepreneurs, they’re startups with office space, and that we do that at no cost to them and that we encourage and nurture and project manage those new startups who will then profit share back and we’ll grow that. And then this place becomes this exciting center of energy and innovation and entrepreneurship for not just startups, but for companies like your own, who want to host meetings there, right there where the students can see them and they can see the students and new industry can maybe become their suppliers. We encourage that whole system. It’s a systems approach to solving our industrial economic and educational problems of the future and will actually they exist right this moment so we’re working pretty fast to get that going. That’s what I envision and we envisioned at MiraCosta. That’s going to happen in the near future is that we’re going to grow that side of what we’re doing. It’s pretty exciting.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah. That sounds really awesome.

Linda Kurokawa:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Kruidhof:
What can people do to help make that a reality? I’m assuming we need a… I guess the question is how can students sign up now, right? Where do they get more information about the programs at TCI? I’m a little bit more biased towards them going towards the Engineering Tech Program, but I know you guys have quite a few programs there that are pretty awesome. What’s the best place to get information?

Linda Kurokawa:
Yeah. We do have many programs. We have programs in biomedical equipment technician and unmanned systems. Sorry, my light goes out. We even have some in healthcare, we’ve got welding, we’ve got a brew tech program or somebody can actually learn how to brew beer. We have the only brew house at a college in San Diego area. It is Master Brewers Association approved.

David Kruidhof:
Wow.

Linda Kurokawa:
That’s the college that has that so we’re excited about those types of programs. That’s the level at which we try to create for all of our programs. To come and find out about our programs, we invite you to look at our website. It’s miracosta.tci. Let’s see if I’ve that right now. Now that I’m thinking about it, I might have flipped it. Yeah, tci.miracosta.edu.

David Kruidhof:
Perfect.

Linda Kurokawa:
We invite you to have a look at that website and that’ll give you a lot of information. You can always call us at our number and I’m sure that you can ask Alan for that number or Megan, David and you can get that one.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah. We’ll make sure to get that posted on the screen here for everybody.

Linda Kurokawa:
Yeah.

David Kruidhof:
That’s the Engineering Tech Program in particular. What’s the cycle here? There’s a cohort. How long has the program, how often is it starting? How many programs do you have here?

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
Sure. We run the program three times a year. We have a cohort that starts in January and goes till April. Then our second cohort is from May through August and then late August through mid-December. Right now, we’re recruiting for the cohort that will start in, I’ve read at the end of August and we still have space left.

David Kruidhof:
Right.

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
If anybody’s interested, get in touch with us quickly, because there is a bit of an admission process you need to come in and do an interview.

David Kruidhof:
Wow.

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
But yeah. Another thing I’ll mention is we have some funding available. For students who maybe look at the course description and get a little bit nervous about the sticker price, there are several community partners who offer partnership funding. We also have a brand new Creative Electron sponsored scholarship program in place for our students, which is a huge boon to our program because it is a program that costs money and being able to offer students some funding to help with that is amazing. I think it’s going to be really, really beneficial for the program long-term so thank you to Creative Electron for that and don’t be scared off by the sticker price.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah. We’re very, very happy to be able to support guys in this way when they’re able to do it. It’s very encouraging just because how much we’ve gotten from you guys, right? How many people you’ve produced for not just Creative Electron, but for the community as a whole. When I first heard about the program at TCI, the Tech Program, as well as the Electronic Manufacturing Program, I was in the same industry, but different job. It was just really exciting that this was happening because there’s such a need around San Diego County for people who know how to solder or people who can program PLCs and all the other broad things that you cover in this Engineering Tech Program. We’re very, very happy to be able to support that and make sure that people are getting trained and sent out into the local community with these kind of technical skills, very practical technical skills. It’s a big help. I know I went to UCSD and when I first walked into that Tech Program, I was like, “Oh, I wish I had this. Can I take this program? No.”

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
You can.

David Kruidhof:
Maybe I will.

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
David, I also wanted to add that we’re always partnering with new companies. If there are companies that are interested in getting a work experience project started or recruiting through our program, you can feel free to reach out to Brent or myself for that. We’re definitely always in the market for building those relationships with new companies and just keeping our finger on the pulse of what’s going on with industry in San Diego County so feel free to reach out for that.

David Kruidhof:
As long as not too many take advantage of that,

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
Great.

David Kruidhof:
I definitely infer is that they do, as Mariem said, the students that we get here who are doing that, usually it’s just, “Hey, can you help me with this?” No, it’s not. Step-by-step instruction to get something done. They can just walk up and start helping, right? Certain safety things that are particular to your area of course need to be covered. Don’t just throw people at chops, but the skills set, right. They already know a lot of stuff so it’s really helpful, really helpful.

Alan Galicia:
It’s a very unique experience. I mean, right now, after graduating from TCI and I’m at Creative Electron now, I decided to sign up to get my bachelor’s degree and then the TCI program is something completely different. Like you were saying, David and it’s very hands-on just the way that they approach the different topics. Even within the other students, within the cohort, we see each other as coworkers as well. We’re collaborating, we’re sharing information, we’re paying it forward, we’re seeing how we can help the community and help each other. It’s a very unique experience and highly recommended to anyone who’s thinking about joining. Just go ahead and sign up and keep the ball rolling.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, definitely.

Alan Galicia:
It’s a piggyback a little bit on what Alan was saying. Not only do we do technical hard skills, but our school incorporates soft skills as well. I know that’s one of the things that Creative Electron enjoys about our program as well is that we’re training technicians to be technicians. That involves clocking in and involves clocking out, following up on emails, being productive, being a self-starter stuff like that. We started with just doing technical seals here at TCI, and then industry feedback said, soft skills need to come as well. That’s another part about our program too, is it incorporates both the hard skills and the soft skills so you come out as a very well-rounded technician.

Megan Bergsma:
All right. Well, thank you everybody for this wonderful chat and the next segment of Fireside Chat. Really been a pleasure to learn more about the TCI program from the experts themselves and I encourage everybody who’s interested in the program to try it out and see if you’re a good fit. Who knows you might be a next Creative Electron employee.

David Kruidhof:
Awesome. Thank you everyone for joining us. Wonderful talking to you all.

Linda Kurokawa:
Yeah.

David Kruidhof:
We’ll see our audience again in two weeks.

Mariem Ortiz:
Thank you.

Kate MacArevey-Colello:
So much.

Linda Kurokawa:
Everybody.

Mariem Ortiz:
Great.

David Kruidhof:
Bye.

Related Posts

Radiation is Everywhere with Dr. Marcos Turqueti

It's a good thing we are still fascinated by it, because it's everywhere and there is no escape!  In this weeks Fireside Chat with the...

Read More
Radiation is Everywhere with Dr. Marcos Turqueti

Trying Things that are a Little Bit Scary, with Mayor Rebecca Jones

Here's more proof positive that all politics are local.  For this week's Fireside Chat, our Xperts, Megan Bergsma and Dr. Bill Cardoso welcome the honorable...

Read More
Trying Things that are a Little Bit Scary, with Mayor Rebecca Jones

Semiconductor Shortage, Counterfeits, Fraud, and More with Dr. Diganta Das

Engineer, educator, and would be sociologist, Dr. Diganta Das, joined Megan Bergsma and Dr. Bill Cardoso for this Fireside Chat with the Xperts.  As a...

Read More
Semiconductor Shortage, Counterfeits, Fraud, and More with Dr. Diganta Das
Skip to content