Whatcom Community College (WCC), in partnership with Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington (TAGNW), is developing a new Software Development associate degree with a targeted launch of fall 2021, pending approval. Our goal is to integrate work-based learning opportunities with academic instruction that results in new, skilled software development professionals in the workforce.

Program Updates

Note: Please contact Michael Gan, TAG Executive Director, for all inquiries at president@tagnw.org.

  • WCC Software Development Career Launch Program receives approval.
  • Thank you to Alpha Technologies, Emergency Reporting, Faithlife, Koerber Supply Chain, and Samson Rope for becoming an industry partner! Join these great companies in supporting the new WCC Software Development program.
  • See our February Program Update: We continue to establish industry partners for the program.
  • See our November Program Update: Our Community Input Campaign is near completion, and we are focused on confirming industry partners in our next project phase.
  • Curriculum Development Workshop (DACUM) is scheduled for October 21st @ 2:30pm-5pm.
  • Virtual Focus Group completed. Thank you to all who participated!
  • Tonya Wagner and Michael Gan featured on KGMI to discuss the WCC Software Development Career Launch program.
  • Arranging virtual focal group discussion for September 25th @ 10am.
  • Survey available now, closing Nov 1. We appreciate your feedback!

Program Introduction

What is Work-Based Learning?

During work-based learning, students gain understanding as they apply classroom knowledge to real-world experience. This approach creates a stronger connection with the knowledge, skills, and qualities of a successful job candidate in demand by employers. To accomplish this outcome, partnerships are established between education institutions, industry employers, and community organizations to arrange work-based learning opportunities for students.

What is Career Launch?

Career Launch is the term used to describe endorsed academic programs that include work-based learning opportunities within their degree. WCC and TAGNW are proud to be awarded a grant from Career Connect Washington to develop the WCC Software Development associate degree as a Career Launch program, pending approval.

Help us create the WCC Software Development program!

We welcome you and your organization to participate in the creation of the new Software Development program at Whatcom Community College by becoming a work-based learning partner!

Contact Us

To RSVP or inquire about focus group and/or DACUM involvement, please contact Michael Gan, Executive Director of TAGNW, at 360-499-2099 or president@tagnw.org.

For information regarding work-based learning, Work Study reimbursement, and Workforce@Whatcom, please contact Michelle Heitmann, WCC Cooperative Education Program Coordinator, at 360-383-3700 or mheitmann@whatcom.edu.

Program Development

We Want Your Input!

Share your insights regarding critical skills and qualities necessary for software development interns and entry level positions, work-based learning opportunities for students, industry hiring demand, and availability of local candidates.

TAGNW will facilitate several opportunities for input in a range of formalities, including a community input campaign survey, virtual focus group discussion, and a curriculum development workshop. The findings of each activity will be considered and integrated into the new WCC Software Development program.


Throughout September and October, TAGNW facilitated a Community Input Campaign Survey to collect community feedback.

Focus Group

Join us for a virtual focus group discussion on Friday, September 25th, 10am – 12pm. We’ll explore similar questions to the survey in deeper discussion. Limited space available. Please RSVP if interested.

Develop A Curriculum (DACUM)

DACUM is a formalized brainstorming process to ensure curriculum is aligned with industry best practices. We are seeking professionals with a range of expertise and responsibilities to participate in our virtual Software Development DACUM, planned for late October and arranged via invitation. Please inquire if interested.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Discussion

The experience of women and minorities in the technology industry needs improvement, and we welcome your insight, experience, and recommendations. A DEI discussion will be arranged in spring. Please inquire if interested. We would love your input.

Program Partnership

Become a Work-Based Learning Partner!

Work-based learning is successful because deep collaborations with partners provide valuable internships and support resources for students. These collaborations provide mutual benefits in learning and recruiting, and help strengthen partnerships between organizations. Partnerships are defined to reflect the function of each organization in the program: community, industry, and education partnerships.

While all partnerships help shape program development based on the contributions and experience of their organization, each type of partnership has a clear focus:

  • Community Partner: Provide programs, services, and/or outreach to increase student success.
  • Industry Partner: Host students for work-based learning opportunities.
  • Education Partner: Align student educational pathways both pre- and post- program.

Why Become an Industry Partner?

Providing work-based learning opportunities for students creates value and benefits to your organization in numerous ways:

  • Screen and grow your pipeline of qualified talent.
  • Increase your visibility for recruitment.
  • Connect with career-minded students.
  • Diversify with new, motivated team members.
  • Contribute to a vibrant local workforce.

How Does it Work?

Work-based learning creates several opportunities for employers and students to interact with varying levels of commitment, including job shadow, internship, and work study:

  • Job Shadow: Host a first year student for an introduction to software development.
  • Internship: Hire a second year student for a meaningful, supervised, on-the job experience.
  • Work Study: Hire a student for part-time employment and receive partial reimbursement.

Reimbursement of Student Wages

Through the federal Work Study program, your organization may be eligible to hire a student for part-time employment and receive partial reimbursement of student wages between 50-75%.

Community Input Campaign


We have prepared several questions to consider for a student or recent graduate of the WCC Software Development program and invite your feedback in our Community Input Campaign Survey. Our goal is to engage with industry, understand real-world priorities, and integrate the knowledge and experience of the community into the program. Your input is appreciated. Thank you for your participation.

{Note: Survey now closed.]

Skills and Competencies

  • What skills and competencies are desired for junior software development positions?
  • What certifications are desired for junior software development positions?
  • What are some example projects and roles for an internship?
  • Do you have any advice that you would like to share from your own experience?

Internship Program

  • Does your organization have an internship program?
  • If so, how does it work?
  • What are some anticipated challenges to hiring an intern?
  • What challenges have arisen due to COVID?
  • What resources would remove these barriers?
  • What is a reasonable time commitment for a software development internship? Typically 99-165 total hours (9-15 hours per week) in one quarter for 3-5 college credits.
  • What is your interest and capacity to host WCC Software Development student interns?


  • What are the job titles appropriate for graduates of a software development associate degree?
  • Do you see any emerging trends for software developers?
  • What is your company’s current demand for hiring entry level software development positions?
  • What do you expect the demand to be in the next 5 years?