The South Puget Sound region is home to numerous public and private colleges, among them Pacific Lutheran University, University of Puget Sound, University of Washington-Tacoma and The Evergreen State College. Far less well-known is a university located in DuPont.

Called Intel University, this internal training program was created to contribute to the success of Intel Corp. and its employees by providing high-quality, cost-efficient and timely training.

In each of the past two years, nearly 1,350 class sessions have been conducted. Because many Intel employees take advantage of multiple courses, the equivalent of 10,000 students have been served.

There are more than 3,000 course offerings available throughout the corporation covering topics from technology to culture, management to personal growth, safety to security and finance to career-path development.

What makes this corporate program unique is that much of the teaching is done not by human resource experts but by front-line Intel employees. These employee volunteers include manufacturing technicians, engineering managers, design engineers and even public affairs professionals. In selecting instructors, Intel University focuses on the volunteers’ skills and knowledge of the subject rather than their job classifications.

“The Intel volunteer instructor system is a true win-win for instructors and students alike,” says Michael Fors, corporate employee development manager. “By teaching, volunteer instructors hone skills they need on the job, role model what is expected of all employees and help other employees develop their skills. Students, in turn, learn from experienced volunteer instructors how to apply the skills at Intel.”

For every technical course offering such as Rambus System Architecture, there is a more general class such as Effective Meetings, which is representative of the kinds of non-technical training being offered.

Effective Meetings covers the basics of how Intel expects meetings to be conducted, including how to develop an agenda.

“Effective meetings—not the course, but the meetings themselves—allow Intel to be very productive and quickly address issues,” says Diane Anderson, Washington site information technology manager and a frequent Intel University volunteer instructor. “We do this by teaching people to format the issue, structure the conversation and outline the action needed to solve the problem.”

Like many Intel University courses, Effective Meetings is hands-on, allowing employees to practice what they are learning rather than just listening to lectures.

“In addition to being fun, this course reinforces why effective meetings are important to Intel,” says Anderson. “It also allows employees in the class to interact with senior managers. By having us teach classes, it sends the message about how important training is to Intel.”

Students prepare agendas and conduct mock meetings in which everyone gets an opportunity to try out different roles—including the rat-hole monitor.

The rat-hole monitor, Anderson explains, is the person responsible for shouting “rat hole” if the discussion strays. It’s a way of reminding participants of the importance of sticking to the agenda.

One of Intel’s stated values is to continuously learn, develop and improve, she says. The structure of Intel University provides employees with the opportunity to do just that—to strive for life-long learning and to constantly develop and enhance their skills.