Clark College to expand in the Gorge

New aerospace grant will expand opportunities for Gorge residents

Less than a year after establishing a location in the Columbia River Gorge, Clark College is expanding its academic and technical offerings and moving into a new, larger facility.

The new location in Bingen, which is still being negotiated, would house both new classes designed for the needs of local employers as well as existing classes currently run out of Clark’s facility at the Wind River Education Center in nearby Carson.

That facility was opened in fall 2013 in response to widespread interest from Columbia Gorge residents and school districts in having access to affordable, college-level classes.

The expansion is made possible in part by a $315,000 grant received by the college from the State of Washington to increase enrollment in aerospace education, approximately half of which is going to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education at the Bingen facility.

The grant is part of an $8 million, statewide program to help two-year and technical colleges prepare future employees in the aerospace field.

The new Bingen location will include a computer lab and classroom space for classes in Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD), a skill that many regional employers cited as in high demand.

The college will also be hiring a full-time employee in the Columbia River Gorge. The college is on an aggressive timeline, and will be ready to offer classes in the fall of 2014.

The college is also moving its Transitional Studies (basic education and GED preparation) programs and other academic offerings previously provided at Wind River to the new Bingen facility. These other offerings include classes taken by area high school students through Washington State’s Running Start program, which allows students to take college-level classes while still enrolled in high school for little or no tuition—potentially earning their associate degree while still in high school.

Additionally, Clark College Corporate and Continuing Education (CCE) will use the new facility to continue and expand its specialized training for local employers. Beginning in fall 2014, CCE will also begin providing professional-development courses to the public, including LEAN, blueprint reading, Excel, Word, Outlook, Business Writing, email etiquette and communication, and essentials of supervision.

A full list of courses and activities in the Columbia River Gorge will be available on the Clark College website later this summer.

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