The success of a community college is deeply rooted in its strong network of business relationships. Since opening its doors more than 45 years ago, Washington State Community College (WSCC) values such relationships to provide students with practical, hands-on learning experience through co-ops and internships; and advise the college on industry trends and training needs.

For more than two decades, WSCC has worked with Pickering Associates to ensure its engineering and industrial technology graduates have the skills and qualifications to be successful in a variety of technical fields. Pickering Associates is a local business that specializes in architecture, engineering, and surveying. The affiliation between WSCC and Pickering Associates was conceived more than 20 years ago and has grown and evolved into a mutually beneficial collaboration.

“We have created a cohesive connection with Pickering Associates that has proven advantageous to our institution, students, faculty, and alumni. They’ve taken the time to get acquainted with our mission and have provided us valuable insight into the industry, which keeps our programs current and adds value to our students’ education,” said Dr. Vicky Wood, WSCC President.

In 1997, Shawn Bishop was a Monroe Central High School senior enrolled in WSCC’s Drafting Design program through the Post-Secondary Educations Option (now called College Credit Plus). Two months before he earned his associate degree, Pickering Associates hired him as a drafter.  “At first my work consisted of creating and revising drawings from sketches created by engineers,” described Bishop. As his skills advanced, so did his opportunities at Pickering Associates.

Our relationship is simple, first and foremost we want to give back to the community.

Ten years into his employment, he moved into Controls and Automation. Here he maintained his focus on electrical drafting, but his duties expanded into designing, building and writing control panels. As he approached 20 years with the organization, “I started thinking it was time for a change,” he confessed. It wasn’t a new job that he wanted, rather, new opportunities. So he returned to his alma mater and this spring earned a second degree, this time in Instrumentation, Control and Electrical Engineering. “It’s still early to tell where my new degree will lead me, but the wheels are in motion,” he declared.

Ryan Taylor, CEO of Pickering Associates, credits the company’s involvement with its desire to have a positive influence on the industry. “Our relationship is simple, first and foremost we want to give back to the community, and one of the ways we do that is to get involved with the students at WSCC and shape them into drafters and engineers.”

Over the years, employees of Pickering Associates have served on advisory boards, served as guest lecturers, advised students on projects, and invited students to tour its facilities. In return, WSCC has aided in the success of the company by providing them with well-trained employees. In fact, nearly 10% of the Pickering Associates current team is comprised of Washington State graduates.

“We rely on WSCC to provide us with quality drafting students,” confirmed Taylor. One of their newest drafters, Patrick Goff, interned with the company while he recently finished his degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology at Washington State.

Jeremy Butler, Jim York, and Chip Pickering.

Jeremy Butler, Jim York, and Chip Pickering.

Earlier this spring Electrical Engineering student Jeremy Butler worked on a Solar Voltaic Project as part of his Independent Study course. Butler worked closely with Professor of Electrical Engineering Jim York and Pickering Associates’ Founder Chip Pickering. Pickering, who has extensive knowledge on the solar panel system Butler installed, provided valuable insight and guidance from the project’s conception through installation. The project resulted in supplying power to a nearby greenhouse and ultimately reduced carbon dioxide emissions that were equivalent to 20-30 trees.

We are making an impact on the lives of our students through the relationships we have cultivated with area businesses.

In April, Pickering Associates welcomed students from the Engineering & Industrial Technology classes at WSCC to their campus. Instructor John Burgardt brought half a dozen students from various engineering classes to see first hand how the firm uses the skills that the students were learning in the classroom. Patrick Goff, one of the students’ classmates, is already employed at Pickering Associates as a Piping Drafter. “Our main objective was to help local scholars realize the career opportunities available to them right here in their hometown,” said Nick Arnold, BIM Coordinator, who helped organize the tour. During their time on site, students reviewed renderings, witnessed a virtual walkthrough of a 3D industrial model, and flew through a point cloud generated by a 3D scanner.

“We are making an impact on the lives of our students through the relationships we have cultivated with area businesses,” Wood said. “Pickering Associates’ involvement in our classrooms, hiring our graduates, and serving on our advisory boards, is positively influencing the future of our students and adding value to their education,” concluded Wood.