Posted January 29, 2021
Matt Douglass was passionate about his career in local radio but a chance interview he did with Johnny Vanderford about Lorain County Community College’s new Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS) program sparked his interest in a possible career change.
With a young and growing family – three kids under the age of 4 – Douglass was thinking it might be time for a career that offered more stable hours and a better opportunity for economic advancement.
“I enjoyed the radio life. It was fun,” Douglass said. “A few years ago, Andy Barch and I interviewed Johnny Vanderford for the WEOL afternoon show. We came up, saw the facility and clean rooms and talked with Johnny about the MEMS program. I thought it was a cool deal and maybe it was something I could get into.”
Douglass came to WEOL AM 930 after stints as an on-air personality in other markets including North Dakota and working for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He started as an assistant to the sales team but advanced to the on-air news personality with Barch when WEOL started its afternoon show. He also designed and produced the station’s high school football program and coordinated its website.
He was a jack of all trades at WEOL for five years and enjoyed radio but the prospect of taking on the MEMS challenge was there in the back of his mind. “I thought this was a way I could advance my career. If you can love doing something else and get paid a little more, then it’s worth giving it a try,” Douglass said.
So, with his modicum of technical ability and new desire, he took the leap and entered the MEMS program in spring of 2018. “I talked with my wife Kate about making a career change and about the program. The more I talked I about it the more interested I was in doing it,” Douglass said.
And of course, he talked to the most passionate person about the MEMS program –Johnny Vanderford. Vanderford is an associate professor in the MEMS program and director of the Manufacturing Electronics & Rework Institute for Training (MERIT) in the Desich SMART Center at LCCC. MERIT is a laboratory facility used to train students and workers in high-volume printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing.
“After interviewing so many people over the years in radio you can tell when someone has a passion for what they’re doing,” Douglass said. “Certainly, Johnny has great passion and is a great teacher.” Douglass also noted that adjunct instructor Greg Mylnar is an excellent teacher. “These guys have the knowledge and experience and you can ask them anything.”
Vanderford called Douglass a remarkable student and worker. “Matt’s combination of the technical understanding of electronics coupled with his background in radio broadcasting makes him a valuable worker on both the engineering as well as sales sides of SMART Microsystem’s team,” Vanderford said.
Douglass successfully finished the associate of applied science degree in MEMS in December and is now working as an intern at LCCC’s Desich SMART Center in the MEMS labs while deciding if he is going to enter LCCC’s bachelor of applied science in MEMS degree or seek employment in the industry. He also previously earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies at Kent State University.
The MEMS program is one of three LCCC degrees that offer TRAIN OH – Earn and Learn paid, work-based learning opportunities like internships with Northeast Ohio companies. The other two are automation engineering technologies and cyber and information systems.
“I’m enjoying working as an intern in the lab. Every day has a new flow of work,” Douglass said. “There is always something new to learn and it’s fascinating to try and figure how to work with the electronics in a PCB.”
His previous work experience in radio sales combined with his new technical experience in MEMS may open up avenues of employment in the industry that include working in a manufacturing setting or doing sales and marketing of MEMS products. “With my background I know there are opportunities out there where I may be able to combine my experiences and degree for a new career,” he said.
He would recommend the MEMS program for someone just starting out or looking for a career change because it is hands-on learning. “You can walk into a career and feel like you are ready. No matter what aspect of the program you like, you get the hands-on experience in the clean room labs here to really prepare you.”
LCCC’s MEMS degree pathway includes a short-term certificate, one-year certificate, associate of applied science degree and a bachelor of applied science degree.
Learn more information on the LCCC MEMS program.