Four-year degree open to students


Victoria Miller

Robert Ruiz operates the 5150 Robo CIM in his lab class for industrial technology. The equipment is held in the computer integrated manufacturing lab.

Elizabeth Castillo, Editor in Chief

Bakersfield College announced on Jan. 20 that it will be one of 15 colleges in California to offer a four-year baccalaureate degree program. Students who participate in the pilot program will earn a baccalaureate of applied science in industrial automation. BC was selected by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to offer a unique program that focused on automation.

“An important criterion to be selected was that the program could not duplicate other programs offered at the California State University level,” said Liz Rozell, the Engineering & Industrial Technology Dean of Instruction at BC.

The program will comprise of 122 units, and the degree was designed to follow the CSU General Education Breadth of courses. Sixty-two units must be completed in lower division courses. Rozell said that she is excited BC is offering this program so that students can prepare for mid-management positions within manufacturing and automation.

“With this program, we can prepare students for the workforce,” she said. “Students who received an associate degree were tracked in their field and could not be promoted to managerial positions without a BS degree.”

Rozell said that with the new program, students will be eligible for mid-management positions. The program allows students to learn technical management, industrial safety, quality assurance and other skills that will prepare them for managerial positions within the automation industry. Rozell hopes the pilot program can help improve the Kern County economy and give students more options for their education.

Currently, BC offers associate in science degrees for engineering, engineering technology, and industrial technology. With the baccalaureate program, students can further their education and earn a degree with classes that are missing from BC’s present curriculum. According to a press release, 15% of the population served by Bakersfield College holds a degree at the bachelor’s level. Rozell hopes the pilot program can serve the Bakersfield community by providing a reasonably priced baccalaureate degree.

The program will begin in the fall semester of 2015. Students currently attending BC have already expressed interest in the program. Eric Rodriguez, 23, said that he wants to enter the program in the fall so that he can earn a baccalaureate degree at a cheaper price and stay in Bakersfield for his family.

“I have a son that’s 3 months old,” he said. “I don’t want to leave him, and I don’t want to miss any moments.”

Rodriguez is a lab assistant for the computer integrated manufacturing lab at BC and hopes to find a stable job within the manufacturing and automation industry. He said that he enjoys working with the equipment because it requires a lot of thinking. Some of the equipment in the CIM lab is designed to work together while other systems are not. Students learn how to get different systems to communicate with each other in a hands-on environment.

“If you do something wrong, you will break it,” Rodriguez said.

The CIM lab will be a part of the baccalaureate program’s lower division requirements and students learn how to use programmable logic controllers. The lab features Allen Bradley SLC-500 series controllers. These controllers have been used at the Dreyer’s Ice Cream factory in Bakersfield. Rodriguez said that Dreyer’s uses a large amount of automation and he’s interested in learning tools that are used in the field.

“When the equipment breaks, the professor makes us fix it,” Rodriguez said. “We take apart the controller and put it back together again.”

Within the application process, BC obtained over 60 letters of support from community leaders and businesses operated in Kern County including Chevron, Aera and Bolthouse Farms.

“We are searching for 57 jobs in our Bakersfield production facilities with many requiring the technical skills that the proposed baccalaureate degree would fulfill,” said Darren Filkins, the Senior Vice President of Agriculture for Bolthouse Farms, in a letter of support for the program.

According to Rozell, automation is a large sector within Kern County and the program could offer students an array of choices in manufacturing and automation. Jose Sepulveda, 18, hopes to eventually own an automation company.

“Automation is exactly what I want,” Sepulveda said. “This is a job I would love.”