ROSEBURG, Oregon – Roseburg native Joel LaRaut was raised on his family’s century ranch. He attended Hucrest Elementary, JoLane Middle School, and Roseburg High School. Growing up in picturesque Douglas County no doubt fed his love for landscape photography, animals, and outdoor recreation. In addition, he has an interest in sports and travel.
After high school in 2001, LaRaut enrolled at UCC. He explained why he chose UCC, “I wanted to stay in the area and the Engineering program seemed to align with my interests in Drafting. It was reasonably priced compared to other colleges or universities, and I had heard the Engineering program was good.”
When he first registered, he wanted to pursue a career in Drafting. He experienced what many have while attending a community college – finding what really sparks your interest.
“I took a course in Hydraulics and on-site systems that gave me exposure to the wastewater industry,” he said. “It was there that I first learned about Orenco. I had no idea who they were before those courses.”
After graduating, LaRaut landed a job at Orenco Systems in Sutherlin.
“Orenco is a wastewater collection and treatment manufacturer in [Douglas County], and employs hundreds of people,” he said. “The company’s founders were even professors at UCC years ago. Orenco is a big company with a small shop feel. The owners have an open door policy and everyone is like one big family. They have been a great employer as is evidenced by the long tenure of much of the staff. [The company] has checked off all of my boxes.”
One of LaRaut’s highlights of working for the company was helping out when Paradise, California, was devastated by forest fires in 2018. The devastation included many septic systems. LaRaut played a role helping to put those systems back online.
“Design review work was fast-tracked through [Orenco] and equipment was prioritized to be manufactured quickly to help the town recover,” he said. “I managed the systems engineering department at the time, and my group ran point in the design review work.”
After 18+ years, LaRaut reflected on his experience at UCC and working at Orenco.
“The Engineering program gave me exposure to education that served me well, and it also gave me the opportunity to get a job at Orenco Systems,” he said. “I don’t feel that I would’ve found that job without UCC.”
Photo: LaRaut enjoying a trip of exploration and photography in Iceland
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.