The demand for trained IT professionals in the Eastern Washington area has risen during the last decade with an influx of major technology companies taking advantage of the area’s abundant and affordable electrical power and locating data centers in the area.

aerial view of data center in quincy

This demand has fostered relationships between Big Bend Community College and regional data centers operated by Intuit, Microsoft, Oath, NTT DATA, Sabey Data Centers, and Vantage Data Centers; and the collaboration has resulted in a specialized one-year program that will prepare students for entry-level datacenter operations positions with these companies.

“We are working closely with the data centers to customize our credentials to train students with the skills they need,” said Big Bend Computer Science Specialist Tom Willingham. “Students who successfully complete this one-year program will be equipped with the knowledge needed to gain entry-level employment with one of these amazing companies.”

Today’s hyper-scale “cloud” data centers can contain hundreds of thousands of computer servers linked by powerful networks serving individuals, business, organizations and governments worldwide. Those data centers located in the Quincy area are taking advantage of the county’s location on the Columbia River and its ability to generate a green, renewable source of energy through hydropower.

With all signs pointing to continued expansion in the area, successful students can enroll and earn the Network Support Specialist Certificate of Accomplishment and the Systems Administration Certificate of Achievement at Big Bend. Completion of these certificates and additional work-based learning will provide students with the skills required to enter this high-demand field.

Students who are ready for more datacenter operations technical skills development may also have the option to earn industry certifications and go on to earn a variety of directly relevant 2-year degrees at BBCC.

Big Bend Community College (BBCC) has limited space in this program starting this fall. Students who have completed their FAFSA or WAFSA applications may be eligible for Federal or State Financial Aid and BBCC work-study opportunities. Some of the area datacenters are working toward providing targeted financial aid assistance and on-the-job training and experience opportunities.

To learn more about this unique training program, please contact Tom Willingham at Big Bend Community College at (509) 793-2321 tomwi@bigbend.edu.

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