IVCC students recognized at national NSF conference


Luke Maltas, at left, and
Emily Klass, right,
received scholarships to
attend the NSF / ATE
Conference in Washington D.C.


Two technical students at IVCC received national recognition at a conference in Washington D.C. hosted by the National Science Foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges.

Emily Klass of LaSalle and Luke Maltas of Depue received scholarships to attend the Advanced Technological Education Conference Oct. 27 – 29 where they were honored at a Student Recognition Breakfast.

At the conference, Klass, an engineering design student, and Maltas, an electronics student, presented a showcase on their technical projects including the Making Industry Meaningful In College (MIMIC) project in which student teams design, manufacture, market and sell products. Maltas has also founded a Robotics Club at IVCC.

"It was awesome seeing what other college students are doing," Klass said.

Both students identified a tour of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, located just outside of Washington D.C., as a highlight of the trip.

Klass, a graduate of Serena High School, will earn an Associate in Applied Science degree in Computer Aided Design in May 2011. Currently serving an internship with Sachs Electronics in Hennepin, she plans to fulfill a long-term goal by finding full-time CAD work after earning her degree.

"I loved drafting in a high school class," said Klass, who is 31, but she was encouraged to pursue a bachelor’s degree in art. Eventually, she switched to accounting and then business administration.

Some time later, a job at O’Neal Steel, in which she did some drafting and CAD, led her back to the work she loved. After being laid off, she enrolled in CAD at IVCC courtesy of assistance through the Dislocated Workers Center.

Stating that she might pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering, Klass said she won’t decide until she’s sure what field of engineering would be best for her.

The daughter of Sherri and Jean Dale Pinnell of rural Ottawa, Klass is married to Bryan Klass, a Navy Reservist now deployed in Afghanistan.

Maltas, a graduate of Hall High School, is the son of Carol and Terry Maltas of Spring Valley. He will earn an Associate in Applied Science degree in electronics in May 2011. He is currently serving as an electronics lab assistant and as a tutor at IVCC.

Maltas, 31, enrolled at IVCC in 2009 with assistance from the Dislocated Workers Center when the Ancelor Mittal Steel plant where he had worked closed.

"We were told our plant was being shut down because we were redundant and expendable," Maltas said. "I am driven to never be redundant or expendable."

At IVCC, he picked electronics because "that’s what I’m good at," and because he knew there would be jobs. Maltas plans to stay in the Illinois Valley area because of his family.

Klass and Maltas were selected to attend the ATE Conference on the basis of essays they submitted. Only 58 students nationwide were selected.

Jim Gibson, program coordinator of electronics, said Maltas and Klass were recommended "because of their ability to overcome and to succeed." He added that "both of them help their fellow students."

Dorene Perez, program coordinator of CAD, said, "These students exemplify what IVCCs technical programs are all about."

The students were accompanied to the conference by Perez, Gibson, Jerry Corcoran, IVCC president; Sue Iserman, associate vice president for academic affairs; Elaine Novak, dean of career and technical programs; Jamie Gahm, director of business training; Sue Caley Opsal, life science professor; and Rose Marie Lynch, communications instructor.

IVCC has been awarded a total of $1.3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation since 2005. Perez is the Principal Investigator and Gibson, Opsal and Lynch are co-Principal Investigators on the current engineering technology grant. Gibson is the Principal Investigator and Isermann, Gahm and Lynch are co-PIs on the current alternative energy grant. Perez was the PI and Gibson and Lynch the co-PIs on a previous grant.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports research and education in science and engineering. The NSF funded ATE program is dedicated to high technology programs in community colleges.