BBCC to expand data center training program

two students working on computer

MOSES LAKE —Big Bend Community College’s Data Center training program is set to expand starting this fall, with the inclusion of training for more industries and the start of a new Mission Critical Operations pilot program.  

The college first offered the data center program in the Fall of 2017 and several students from the pilot cohort have recently moved from the classroom into full-time jobs at data centers in the area. The program utilizes work-based learning partnerships, which allows students to gain hands-on experience before graduation.

However, until now, the program primarily focused on training for Information Technology (IT) jobs in the regional data centers but the skills learned can be transferred to any small, medium or enterprise business or organization that uses computers, networks, servers or cloud services.

“Just about every organization that uses computers that are connected to a network needs these skills,” said BBCC Computer Science Specialist Tom Willingham. “We will focus our work-based learning components of the program on the industry that the student chooses. We will connect each student with an industry partner.”

Willingham said the new Mission Critical Operations program will prepare students for entry-level facilities manager positions. Some companies call these positions facilities or building engineers, but employees in these positions could potentially make between $48,000 to $60,000 per year.

“We are going to train and turn out students with the right tools to handle Mission Critical Operations for any company,” said Vantage Data Centers Director of Operations and BBCC instructor Mark Johnson.

Mission critical is a popular industry term used to describe the essential services required for day-to-day operations that could impact the bottom line or cause a potential shut down.

The new program will concentrate primarily on industries with large facilities to manage, such as data centers, manufacturing, and food production. However, these essential services are also critical to hospitals, schools, and other large facilities.

“We have been working with Vantage, Sabey, NTT, Microsoft, and Titan Data Centers with help from Schneider Electric employees to understand how to build a program that they can use.  The industry input and support has been fantastic,” said Willingham. “This time, we will build the program with other industries in mind from the beginning and work with them to tailor the program and classes as we build them.”

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