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Intel Takes Its Educational Commitment to Higher Levels

April 1, 1995
Related Topics: Training Technology, Partnership, Featured Article
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A Census Bureau report sponsored by the Education Department and released in February reveals that employers believe schools and colleges aren't preparing students for the workplace. Santa Clara, California-based Intel Corp. is one employer that's doing something about it. Through its corporate K-12 program, the company is forging partnerships with elementary schools, such as the one with Kyrene de la Mirada in Chandler, Arizona.

But the company's involvement with education doesn't stop with high school graduation. Hilda Roy, new college graduate and new technical graduate sourcing manager for Intel in Arizona, says that the firm believes it can influence kindergarten through life-long education.

Right now, Intel's focus is on junior colleges. According to Roy, Intel and other technology-based companies recruit about 70% of their manufacturing and technical people from two-year degree or certificate programs. Yet more and more, these companies are finding that students in these programs aren't sufficiently trained. For example, according to F. Pat Foy, Southwest region manager for extended education at Intel, many past workers recruited from a two-year, associate degree electronics program — the most popular program — have had to be retrained in such areas as chemistry and physics once hired. "That shows us how little communication has been happening between the industries, high schools and community colleges," says Roy.

To increase that communication, Intel has developed a curriculum suited to the technical field and is partnering with community and technical colleges to implement it. Already it has been installed at six New Mexico community and technical colleges, and work is under way in Arizona to do the same. The curriculum includes broad-based learning in chemistry, physics, math and electronics with a good emphasis on communications skills, particularly team building. And although it does focus at the end on semiconductor manufacturing technology, approximately 80% of it prepares people for the technology field across the board.

"Our strategy and our intent isn't to install an Intel curriculum in the public sector," Foy says. "We want to see the community and junior college and technical colleges make good on what their charter is, which is to prepare students for jobs that are available. So we're trying to do our part to help the colleges prepare people for technologies in general."

In addition to developing the curriculum, Intel has devoted approximately $3 million this year to enhance learning and facilities at community colleges in New Mexico and Arizona — where Intel already has large manufacturing plants and is in the process of building more that will increase current productivity six times. Part of that money is spent on benchmarking for community college faculty. "We're taking their lead instructors and bringing them to Intel for the summer, and paying their salaries for the summer, to influence their curriculum." says Roy. "Once they leave Intel, they go back to the classroom and teach the classes based on the experiences they had. It gives them more practical approaches to their teaching."

Similarly, Intel is developing a work-study program for students. In addition, it's creating scholarships, contributing money to community colleges for facilities enhancements and donating computer equipment. It's also partnering with Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico, to create process teaching labs in Arizona and New Mexico at which community college students can get hands-on experience.

Roy hopes that Intel's role in the educational process can become a model for other companies and industries. Already some companies, including General Mills, Honeywell and Philips Semiconductor, have partnered in various degrees with Intel.

These businesses are on the right track. Indeed, during a speech at the San Bernardino Valley College in February, President Clinton stated that, "Not everybody has to go to a four-year college, but everybody needs to get out of high school and have access to at least two years of further education. One way to do that is to abolish the artificial distinction between learning and work by bringing the workplace into the school, the education into the workplace, and doing it everywhere in America."

Personnel Journal, April 1995, Vol. 74, No. 4, pp. 128-138.

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