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Engineering concept photo

Building a better future

YVC engineering program helps meet demand for local industry

Yakima Valley College’s engineering program is one of the best kept secrets in the valley, according to Kevin Carlascio, who teaches part-time in it while serving as a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Survey Supervisor and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Coordinator. Carlascio, knows the importance of having a training program in the Yakima Valley and the impact it has on the region. He manages a team of 10 survey engineers who collect topographic and bathymetric survey data for projects across the state from the department’s Union Gap office.

“When I first learned of the opportunity to teach, I thought it would be fun,” says Carlascio. “When I accepted the [supervisory] role I’m in now, I needed a solid staff, and figured I would teach what was needed in the workforce and then cherry pick the right individuals to fill my team. It didn’t take long to see what amazing talent was entering the workforce and how fulfilling it was to train and develop people.”

With degree and certificate options in civil engineering, survey and construction design, computer aided design (CAD) and transfer opportunities, YVC is ready to help slake the demand for a growing industry, says Carlascio.

“It’s awesome to work with talent that you helped guide and mold. I like to prepare students with real world situations and real-life opportunities.” — Kevin Carlascio, YVC instructor and Washington State DOT supervisor

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there will be a large need for engineers over the next 10 years due to job growth and replacement of those leaving the workforce.

Overall employment in engineering occupations is projected to grow 4%; this increase is expected to result in more than 91,000 new jobs over the coming decade. In addition to new jobs from growth, an estimated 200,900 openings each year are projected to come from replacement needs — making engineering programs a great option for higher learning.

Carlascio says two-thirds of his staff are now former YVC students and he’s thankful for the opportunity to help educate and grow the area’s workforce.

“It’s awesome to work with talent that you helped guide and mold,” said Carlascio. “I like to prepare students with real world situations and real-life opportunities. I also work to provide hands-on learning alongside industry professionals.”

Drew Falon, who graduated from YVC in 2022 with degrees in construction design and survey and civil engineering, is one of these students. Falon came to YVC with a construction background and therefore had foundational knowledge of the subject matter. He feels the program is tailored to help students with similar backgrounds move forward in their careers.

“The hands-on classes that allowed me to get real world experience in the field and to learn the programs and processes are invaluable when it comes to applying for a job,” says Falon, who was hired directly out of school into the WSDOT’s Survey Department as a transportation technician. “Coming from school it allowed me to hit the ground running with the basic knowledge and skills to be a competent member of the team. It allowed me to have enough knowledge to be productive right out of the gate.”

Another student who found success through YVC’s program and is now working at WSDOT is Jay Wood. Wood graduated in 2011 and served as an intern before working in temporary positions and then being hired full-time.

“The education and training I received from YVC landed me a job at WSDOT,” says Wood. “Working with WSDOT kept me busy and learning — eventually I received a permanent position in the Survey Department.” Wood now serves as a transportation engineer and supervises a crew within the Survey Department.

For Carlascio the economic benefits of the program are clear, yet more students are needed — and spots remain open in YVC’s courses.

“If more people knew about the career opportunities this program offered it would be busting at the buttons,” says Carlascio. “The career opportunities in this profession, in this valley, are endless. Most alumni are from the valley. They want to stay here, buy homes, vehicles, food, build families, etc. This career path provides amazing opportunity.”

Learn more about YVC’s engineering program.