Global chip shortage poses challenge to OCC reopening

Multiple stations await computers in the Journalism Newsroom in the new Literature, Language and Social Sciences Building on the OCC campus. A global chip shortage and jammed supply chain has delayed new equipment from being delivered to Costa Mesa. 

Orange Coast College expects to fully reopen for the spring 2022 semester, but they have not yet secured the equipment needed to fully outfit their new facilities.

Amidst global supply chain disarray and the increased prevalence of silicon chips in devices ranging from automobiles to refrigerators, manufacturers have been unable to keep up with the unprecedented demand in 2020 and 2021. These factors, coalescing with many others, resulted in a prolonged state of high costs and indeterminate ETAs for many institutions.

“The chip shortage is certainly impacting our ability to receive product at the moment,” said Kevin Harrison, OCC’s IT Director of Academic & Administrative Support. 

The chip shortage came at a particularly unfortunate time for the college, having recently finished construction on three new buildings, including the three-story, 107,760 square-foot Language Arts and Social Science Building. C.W. Driver Companies stated in a press release that the building will house classrooms, an ESL computer lab, a journalism newsroom, and multiple division and faculty offices, all of which require technology containing computer chips.

“We have been ordering technology for these buildings that we haven't even received yet. It's a lot of back-ordered equipment,” Harrison said.

COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions were catalysts for an IT initiative wherein faculty and administrators increased their utilization of mobile devices and cloud services, rather than fixed desktops. Devices related to this sort of connectivity, such as docking monitors, have been particularly difficult for OCC to acquire.

“COVID has opened the can of worms,” Harrison said. 

According to Harrison, there is some progress being made, especially when it comes to equipment necessary for instruction . Back-ordered equipment from as long ago as April has been arriving, including PCs slated for classroom lecture stations and computer labs. 

“If I hadn’t seen that order come through, I’d probably be worried right now,” Harrison said.

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