Valencia College has unveiled its ambitious plans to significantly expand its Robotics and Semiconductor Technician program at its Osceola Campus in partnership with BRIDG and SkyWater Technology, aligning its vision with the booming semiconductor manufacturing industry in NeoCity, Osceola County’s technology and semiconductor eco-system after receiving a $4.1 million grant from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

Valencia College’s 22-week training program, initially designed for 60 students annually, is set to double its capacity and is poised to empower a broader spectrum of students to benefit from the advanced curriculum and world-class facilities tailored specifically for the burgeoning semiconductor sector.

The college recently provided an exclusive tour of its cutting-edge robotics and semiconductor lab, showcasing its dedication to nurturing future technicians in this high-tech field.

The tour spotlighted the Advanced Robotic Learning Factory, featuring two distinct manufacturing lines outfitted with 25 autonomous robots each. Complementing these lines is a meticulously designed mock clean room, mirroring NeoCity’s clean room, offering students hands-on training in the assembly, programming, and disassembly of autonomous mobile robots. The curriculum extends to encompass vital semiconductor clean room procedures and manufacturing methodologies.

Valencia College Robotics Lab
Valencia College Robotics Lab
Valencia College Robotics Lab

The program comprises a 13-week robotics technology segment, providing versatile training applicable across various manufacturing and logistics domains. Following this, a specialized 9-week program immerses students in semiconductor industry-specific equipment, ensuring graduates possess the necessary skills to meet industry demands. With average starting salaries ranging from $21 to $27 per hour, graduates can anticipate lucrative opportunities upon program completion.

Valencia College isn’t the sole beneficiary of substantial funding in this endeavor. Osceola County was recently named as the recipient of $17.5 million from the state to construct a multifaceted semiconductor lab facility within NeoCity. This strategic initiative aims to foster innovation and bolster semiconductor manufacturing by offering affordable lab spaces to companies.

Governor Ron DeSantis, allocated over $28 million through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to five workforce development projects, including Osceola County, NeoCity – $17,500,000, Valencia College – $4,170,000, Santa Fe College – $3,000,000, Lake Technical College  – $1,860,500, and Eastern Florida State College – $1,550,000.

He emphasized the significance of creating high-wage jobs for Floridians, positioning Florida as a frontrunner in semiconductor manufacturing.

“These awards will expand Florida’s manufacturing industry and provide high-quality jobs for Floridians,” remarked Governor Ron DeSantis. “In Florida, we are laying the groundwork for a strong economic future by investing in growing, high-demand industries that offer high-wage jobs for our residents.”

Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly echoed these sentiments, acknowledging the overwhelming response from economic development and workforce education partners statewide. This robust collaboration aims to provide diverse education options and cultivate a skilled workforce for critical industries.

“Less than two months ago Governor DeSantis called for Job Growth Grant Fund applications to strengthen Florida’s semiconductor manufacturing industry and to enhance its workforce — our partners in economic development and workforce education around the state responded overwhelmingly,” said Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly. “Today’s awards provide more education options for the learner’s benefit and ensure that crucial industries have qualified and eager candidates interested in working in their field.”

This initiative is part of a broader vision outlined in a cutting-edge workforce development initiative announced in September 2023. A staggering $50 million investment by FloridaCommerce and the Florida Department of Education is dedicated to supporting semiconductor manufacturing, advanced packaging, and research and development in the military, defense, and space sectors.

Valencia College’s expansion of its Robotics and Semiconductor Technician program serves as a testament to Florida’s commitment to nurturing a skilled workforce and fostering economic growth within the semiconductor industry.