JOLIET, Ill. — Any road that is paved or building that is constructed starts in the same way – with a solid foundation.
A foundation not only provides a base, but also provides support for the rest of the structure to be built on.
Students in the Engineer Technician Training Program at Joliet Junior College established a solid foundation and prepared themselves for success by attending a 15-week program that was held in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation. The classes were held at Joliet Junior College’s Main Campus in Joliet, Ill.
This program was a “boot camp” experience that provided students with a basic understanding about the aspects of an engineer technician. Engineer technicians at IDOT perform tasks of a technical nature in connection with the investigation planning, design and construction of engineering projects.
According to Anthony Quigley, bureau chief of design at IDOT, “The goal of this program is to get qualified engineer technicians into the IDOT workforce and have better prepared employees in the future.”
In order to participate in this training program, interested candidates had to complete an application and interview before a selection committee comprised of Joliet Junior College staff and IDOT representatives.
The 255-hour training program, which began in early April and concluded in mid-July, was presented in an accelerated format to cover a variety of areas that included: mathematics, basic engineering, surveying, construction safety, material testing and Computer Aided Design and Drafting.
In addition to a weekly stipend, students who were accepted into this training program were able to attend class and receive books at no cost.
At the conclusion of the program, participants received a certificate of completion and also earned college credits that can be utilized towards a degree.
Students are hopeful that successful completion of this training program will give them an opportunity to pursue employment within the IDOT organization.
Erwin Acox, acting chief of diversity recruitment and outreach at IDOT stated, “This program was designed with the help of civil engineers who work at IDOT. This is very beneficial because it prepares students for topics they will need to know on the job.”
A combination of classroom learning, as well as hands-on experiences, really helped to give students a sample of what it would be like to work as an engineer technician.
Student Christopher Santiago of Morris believed that the best part of the entire program was the surveying class.
“I liked the ability to take actual measurements and work with all of the equipment,” he said.
For student Kwame Stanciel of Joliet, this was an exciting opportunity to learn, as well as earn college credit in the process.
“I have always been interested in engineering and this was a great opportunity to get a jumpstart in the field,” he said.
Another factor that contributed to the success of the program was the enthusiasm and support from JJC’s instructors. Laura Cotner, professor in the technical department, who taught the construction materials portion of the program stated, “I was excited to be a part of the program because it was an opportunity to help people find passion in a career.”
The construction materials portion was a blended class that combined online learning along with hands-on experiences. The class met periodically so that they could conduct practical lab exercises in areas such as concrete, soils and masonry.
“It was important for students not just to learn the why but also to learn the how,” Cotner said.
Another benefit to the program was the fact that the instructors actually work in the engineering field. Their ability to combine real-world applications with classroom learning was a very valuable resource to this program.
Student Bernice Sainsbury of Lockport, Ill. was very pleased with the hands-on learning aspect, particularly in the Surveying and Computer Aided Design and Drafting classes.
“The AutoCad class featured the use of MicroStation software, which was very valuable to learn because it will help me in future jobs,” said Sainsbury, who added that she hopes to find an employment opportunity where she will be able to use her drafting skills.
According to Amy Murphy, director of corporate and community services and program coordinator for the Engineer Technician Training Program at Joliet Junior College, the students were very committed.
“The students who participated in this program should be very proud of themselves because they learned a significant amount of information within a 15-week period,” Murphy said.
“This training program helped to prepare students for future employment opportunities by increasing their knowledge and skill sets in a variety of areas that are very important to this profession. In addition, they received college credit for their participation.”
Regardless of where the next step will take the participants in the Engineering Technician Training Program, one thing is for certain — they have each started with a solid foundation for success at Joliet Junior College.
For more information about the Engineer Technician Training Program or other programs offered through JJC’s Corporate & Community Services, please call (815) 280-1418 or visit our website at www.trainingupdate.org.