New BBCC program proving popular

Print Article

Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Tom Willingham explains some of the details of the new Big Bend Community College data center training program to college trustees Thursday.

MOSES LAKE — A new program at Big Bend Community College that provides students training they need to work at data centers is proving so popular BBCC is adding a second class.

Instructor Tom Willingham updated the BBCC trustees at the regular meeting Thursday.

The one-year program offers training, and two certificates, in data system operation and maintenance. Students who complete the program will have the training necessary for entry-level jobs at a data center, with starting salaries at the data centers in Quincy at about $40,000 to $50,000 per year, Willingham said. Students also have opportunities to get additional industry certifications through third-party vendors, he said.

The college received a grant in 2016 for its computer science program, Willingham said, and BBCC officials planned to work on a new program for data center training in fall 2018. But Willingham said he talked to operators of the data centers in Grant County, and they were looking at options in Wenatchee and Yakima, as well as talking to BBCC. In light of that, Willingham said he thought the program needed to start before 2018 to be successful.

As a result a pilot program started this fall. The college’s initial outreach generated a “huge response,” Willingham said. “The response was awesome.”

The response was good enough that the class filled up, and currently there’s a waiting list. Some computer science classes filled up for the first time in the program’s history, he said. The response prompted BBCC officials to add a second class that will start winter quarter.

Willingham said his idea is to make the training program adaptable to any business. “I feel strongly it has to be a scalable model.” And with that, the specific training should be driven by the needs of local employers, he said.

“This pilot’s more important than just what we’re doing with the data centers in Quincy,” he said.

Students should be able to meet with prospective employers, not once or twice but frequently throughout the year, Willingham said. In addition, students should get support from their advisors, both for academics and preparing for professional careers.

In answer to a question from trustee Jon Lane, Willingham said the certificate the students receive isn’t transferable to academic credits. The program focuses on workforce training, he said.

In his opinion, Willingham said, it’s working because it’s meeting the needs of students, business and the community. In addition, students are getting technical and business skills, meeting with possible employers and support from the advisor.

The program is valuable to the business partners because it reduces the cost of recruiting and gives them a chance to meet prospective employees. For the community, it provides more opportunities – most students in the program are from Grant and Adams counties, he said.

The challenge will be maintaining the relationships with the existing partners, and building new ones, he said, and figuring out the best class schedule to provide maximum opportunity for students.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at

Print Article

Read More School News

Moses Lake schools face stark levy choice

January 15, 2018 at 9:10 am | Columbia Basin Herald MOSES LAKE — Despite the promise of increased school funding from Olympia, the Moses Lake School District is very likely going to face some tough spending choices in the next few years, especially re...


Read More

MLSB talks bond changes

January 11, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake School Board voted on Thursday to start reconsidering what to do with last year’s school construction bond and to hold at least one public hearing to solicit input from di...


Read More

Bond talk at Othello meeting

January 10, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald OTHELLO — School overcrowding, school construction funding and what happens if Othello keeps growing were among the subjects discussed at a community forum sponsored by the Othello School Board Monda...


Read More

Transforming lives at Big Bend

January 08, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College honored 10 of its own Thursday, celebrating both individual hard work and persistence against adversity as well as the college’s willingness and ability to hel...


Read More

Contact Us

(509) 765-4561
PO Box 910
Moses Lake, WA 98837

©2018 Columbia Basin Herald Terms of Use Privacy Policy