SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– When international technology company Micron announced its plans to build a computer chip manufacturing plant at Onondaga County’s White Pine Commerce Park in the Town of Clay Tuesday morning, Buffy Quinn, the Assistant Dean of Natural and Applied Sciences at Onondaga Community College got emotional. 

“This is life-changing, it’s regional-changing,” Quinn said.

Micron associates paid OCC a visit last week looking for ways to bolster their future workforce. At the time, Quinn didn’t realize how soon the announcement would be. 

“When it first happened we didn’t know who Micron was, we knew that we had a group of people coming to us and we’re really accustomed to that,” Quinn said. “We’re accustomed to working with employers and helping to design these training programs.”

The applied technologies department at OCC works with a number of companies to ensure their students are learning industry-standard techniques and procedures. When OCC’s new president, Dr. Warren Hilton learned of Micron’s interest in creating a partnership with the college he knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We’re going to develop a diverse workforce that’s going to stay right here, they’re going to spend their dollars right here, they’re going to pay their taxes here, they’re gonna be buying local right here and it’s an amazing opportunity for us again to be right at the forefront of that,” Dr. Hilton said.

With at least 85% of OCC graduates already staying in the Central New York region after graduation, Dr. Hilton is hoping this new partnership propels that number even higher.

Luckily for OCC, their programs already offer training needed to fill multiple positions at Micron down the road, including construction workers and technicians. Plus, the college has plans in place to create a cleanroom, an enclosed space used in manufacturing to keep particulars and other contaminants away. But with this new partnership, professors will be able to tailor their curriculum to micron-specific needs. 

“They’re prepared to come with their training regime and we’re gonna try to roll it into our curriculum so we’re really excited to kind of get into some new areas that we’re not that familiar with clean rooms things that are at the nanoscale, it will be a nice journey for us to invigorate our curriculum,” said Michael Grieb, Chair of the Applied Technology Department at OCC.

The cleanroom will be housed in the current bookstore in the Whitney Applied Technology Center on campus. The college doesn’t have a specific date for when the bookstore will be relocated but is aiming for the new year. 

The space will be a vital tool for OCC to prepare their students for a job at Micron’s Clay campus which will be home to the nation’s largest cleanroom at approximately 2.4 million square feet, the length of nearly 40 football fields. 

According to Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon OCC will receive $5 million from the county to bolster its training programs and prepare students for a career at Micron.