IVCC student and professors present showcases at national conference

An Illinois Valley Community College student and four professors gave presentations at a national conference hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Engineering technology student Amy Hancock and Professors Dorene Perez, Jim Gibson, Sue Caley Opsal and Rose Marie Lynch presented showcases at the Advanced Technological Education Principal Investigator’s Conference in Washington D.C. Oct. 21- 23.

The showcases presented by Hancock and the IVCC faculty team focused on the college’s NSF grant project. In August 2008, IVCC received a three-year grant of $520,000 to increase interest in engineering careers among middle school and high school students, adults and women in the IVCC district.

Hancock, a member of the IVCC Leadership Team for technical students, received a scholarship from the NSF and AACC to participate in the conference. She was selected for the conference on the basis of an essay she wrote outlining her goals for attending. She was one of 60 students nation-wide honored at a Student Recognition Breakfast.

"I never imagined the great opportunities my studies at IVCC would open up to me," Hancock said, who has been majoring in Computer-Aided Design since fall 2008. "Washington D.C. was an absolutely amazing experience."

Hancock, who has a background in office work, plans to start her own business in kitchen and bathroom design.

The showcase presented by the IVCC faculty team highlighted a Taste of Engineering Careers Course in which high school students explore engineering career fields by designing and building their own electric guitars. The IVCC team is also working with area high schools to organize technology clubs and to create leadership teams of students interested in technical careers.

At the middle school level, IVCC faculty are offering camps to generate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Some grant activities are specifically targeting young women and also adults considering a career change.

Perez, Program Coordinator of CAD/CAE and Principal Investigator of the grant, said, "We want people to understand the impact engineers have on everything around us and to experience what it’s really like to be an engineer or engineering technician."

Co-Principal Investigators of the grant are Gibson, Program Director of Electronics; Opsal, Professor of Anatomy and Physiology; and Lynch, Communications Instructor. Sue Isermann, Associate Vice President for Career and Technical Education, also attended the conference and participated in a workshop on grant finances with Perez.

Activities developed by the IVCC team were featured at two national conferences earlier in the year: the American Society for Engineering Education Conference in Austin, Texas, and the National Association for Workforce Improvement in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Further information about grant activities is available from Perez at 815-224-0221.