Spotlight: Clover Park Technical College Empowers Students for In-Demand Manufacturing Careers

Clover Park Technical College’s School of Advanced Manufacturing and its industry partners support students inside and outside of the classroom to ensure they have the opportunity to explore careers and learn in-demand skills. 

“We have solid industry partnerships that allow the students to have even greater context into what they are learning in the classroom,” said Nate Baker, manufacturing engineering technologies instructor at Clover Park Technical College. “We get feedback from industry on what’s relevant so we can up our game. This feedback loop helps us refine our work so what students are learning in the classroom transfer into industry.” 

Along with industry leaders, Clover Park’s advanced manufacturing school has a strong partnership with the school’s Mechatronics program. Nate said that his students learn alongside mechatronics students. For example, while Nate’s students learn to use and manufacture industrial equipment, mechatronics students learn to modify, design and service that equipment. Nate’s manufacturing students can also build onto their degree and earn a four-year bachelor’s degree of applied science in mechatronics. They also can earn third-party industry certifications.  

Students in Nate’s program learn a variety of advanced manufacturing skills, including how to program and run 3D printers and work on projects using CNC machines. Students also learn transferable skills like communication, time management and discipline. Nate believes skills like communication are valuable and needed in the industry. 

“We emphasize those human and interpersonal skills,” Nate said. “It’s valuable when students get into industry to know how to communicate what they’ve learned clearly and efficiently.” 

Nate’s program is one of the more than 125 manufacturing-related community and technical college programs in Washington state that build on the skills that students learn in Core Plus Aerospace.  

Students in Nate’s program range from straight out of high school, to mid-career retraining, military veterans, or end of career retraining. Through a CTC like Clover Park Technical College, they can learn a new skill that can lead to careers that are rewarding and important to Washington state’s economy. 

“I’m excited to help people figure out what they want to do and where they want to go,” Nate said. “We have success stories of students not sure what they want to do and come here and learn new skills, set a goal, get an internship, and turn it into a full-time career. A community and technical college is a really great opportunity to get your foot in the door.”