MEMS graduate Ryan Palmer finds a NASA-filled educational journey at LCCC
Ryan Palmer had every intention of transferring to a four-year school after two years at Lorain County Community College. The 2019 graduate of Palmer Academy, which is the private education institution his parents formally established while home schooling him and his eight siblings, had taken College Credit Plus through LCCC. He felt comfortable starting his higher education journey there and was familiar with LCCC’s advantages.
“The cost to graduate was very low and LCCC was close to home so I could save money on transportation,” Palmer said.
Palmer had always been interested in electronics and was two semesters into the associate of applied science in electronics degree program when he discovered LCCC’s micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) programs. He made a relatively small degree change that has paid off in big ways.
“I heard from a friend that I could get a bachelor’s degree in a field very close to the associate’s program I was already in, while staying at LCCC,” Palmer said. “I found that it was very close to what I wanted to do as a career.”
Palmer’s career plans include someday designing electronic assemblies and devices and he enrolled in the Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics Technology – MEMS program the next semester. He said the opportunities for growth and learning in the MEMS program were immediate. Palmer, from Sheffield Village, began working as a lab aid, just as he had for the electronics program and said the position helped him build confidence and strengthen his social skills.
“When I started classes at LCCC I was very reserved and never talked unless I absolutely had to,” Palmer said. “But after my time at the college as a student and a lab aid, I am now able to talk to people without feeling like I am out of my comfort zone.”
In 2020 Palmer stepped even further outside his comfort zone and applied for a $1,000 Ohio Space Grant Consortium Community College scholarship funded by NASA. His topic was selected, and Palmer began researching solder voiding at varying reflow profiles. Basically, testing different speeds of at which you heat up the solder in order to avoid unwanted holes in the joints.
“The project allowed me to learn more about the electronics manufacturing field and some of the problems that electronic manufacturers face,” he said.
Palmer had such a positive experience with the scholarship program that he applied for a second the next year. For this one, still in progress, Palmer is studying the effect that collimated light – light that has been focused into a shape like a flood light – has on people’s mood and productivity. He said the sun’s light, by the time it reaches earth, is almost perfectly collimated and he’s testing if simulated sunlight would increase mood.
“These two scholarships provided me with the opportunity to learn new topics and expand on ones that I already had some experience in,” Palmer said. “And thanks to LCCC’s great instructors, staff, and labs I was able to be trained on, and use, industry-relevant equipment to perform my experiments.”
As Palmer wrapped up his research and his associate degree program, he said he’s ready to enter the workforce because of his education at LCCC. And being just two semesters away from earning the Bachelor of Applied Science in MEMS degree, he plans to continue his education knowing the curriculum will adapt as employers’ needs evolve.
“LCCC is very focused on preparing students to enter the workforce and equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed,” Palmer said. “While in the MEMS program I have seen it change to incorporate new skills and topics to align with the current requirements of local employers.”
“LCCC is very focused on preparing students to enter the workforce and equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”