By Adeline Griffith / WLD
The Advanced Transportation and Mobility Career Fair, hosted by Washtenaw Community College’s Career Transitions Department and Advanced Transportation Center, provided students with an opportunity to meet professionals who work in the advanced transportation industry.
The public event, held in the Morris Lawrence Building of WCC’s Ann Arbor campus on May 20, featured many employers in related fields, such as Aerotek, Dunning Motors, Enterprise Rent A Car, FT Techno of America, GDI Infotech, GTA Professional Staffing, Jacobs, March Coatings Inc.,Penske Vehicle Services, Phoenix Services, Slankster, TekWissen and THEL Group.
“Events like these are important because students need to be aware of the companies that are hiring and the jobs available in the local Ann Arbor area,” said Cheryl Harvey, director of the Career Transitions Department at WCC. “It’s also important for employers to talk to students and find out what skillsets they learn here and the quality of talent at Washtenaw.”
Ann Arbor ranks fifth in the nation in cities with the most self-driving car related jobs, according to ZipRecruiter.
Each employer set up a booth with information about the work they do and students circulated the room, talking to representatives from whichever companies intrigued them the most.
“Vehicles are getting more and more advanced,” said Al Lecz, director of WCC’s Advanced Transportation Center. “Transportation systems include so much and students need to know what part of this enormous system they want to work on. Whatever they want to work on, they have to know all about it and that’s what we teach at WCC.”
The technological advancement of vehicles means jobs in the field are increasing. From 2017 to 2018, the amount of job postings related to self-driving cars increased by 250 percent, according to ZipRecruiter.
“[Students] need help to see what businesses are looking for,” said Lecz.
Companies at the event had signs at their booths listing the positions they were hiring, including engineers, technicians, software developers and designers.
“We look at modern-day vehicles, they’re computers on wheels,” said Michael Galea, a faculty member of WCC’s Computer Information Systems who has been teaching cyber security for 16 years. “We use a lot of technology. When technology was first advancing, we didn’t foresee all the problems with internet and cyber security.”
There are many jobs involved in cyber security to ensure that people are safe and their cars won’t be hacked. Some companies, such as GM, actually hire people to hack into their vehicles, in a controlled lab setting, so they can see where their problems are and what needs to be fixed within the system, according to Galea.
“We’re teaching about all of this so that we can help society and business move forward,” said Lecz, referring to the importance of educating students on the computer science and manufacturing involved in advanced transportation.
Washtenaw Community College’s Advanced Transportation Center offers many courses that helps put students on the right path, according the Lecz.
“The typical student doesn’t understand the industry. They don’t know what skillsets they need,” said Lecz. “For example, a lot of students want to go into engineering. We don’t have an engineering program here but we do offer pre-engineering which can put them on the path to earn their full engineering degree somewhere like U-M.”
WCC hosts multiple Career Fairs throughout each year.
“We have two industry-wide career fairs, one in the fall and one in the spring,” said Harvey. “We invite companies that represent all of the programs we offer at WCC. At our last one, in March, we had several students get hired that day.”