Two newly awarded federal grants will help the College of Lake County prepare students for jobs in computerized numerical controls (CNC) and photonics/laser/optics—two in-demand manufacturing technologies. The CLC board of trustees last night formally accepted the two CLC grant awards, which total $1.4 million.
“These two grants, combined with the recent $1.6 million TAA STEM-Mechatronics grant, further positions the College of Lake County to address the skills gap in today’s advanced manufacturing environment,” said Dr. Richard Haney, vice president of educational affairs, following the meeting.
“Our goal is to provide our students with the skills and knowledge to excel in today’s technologically advanced workplace.”
The funding for the CNC program comes through the college’s participation in a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) grant involving 21 community colleges under the leadership of Harper College. CLC will receive $525,769 to be used to fund new equipment and expand training and curriculum in the CNC program.
CLC will use its funding to recruit and train both recent high school graduates and adult career changers for careers in CNC by offering a new option allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace, rather than being limited by the traditional 16-week semester format. The program will incorporate the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) trade credentials to validate students’ skills throughout their coursework.
The funding for the lasers/photonics/optics program consists of an $897,054 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. The college will use the funds to develop an Associate in Applied Science degree in lasers/photonics/optics, adding to its existing certificate program.
The grant will also cover the cost of purchasing equipment for laboratories at the Lake County High Schools Technology Campus and the science building currently under design for the Grayslake campus.
The equipment at the Technology Campus will allow the college to offer its certificate in lasers/photonics/optics as a dual-credit program. Dual credit allows high school students to earn both high school and college-level credit.
The A.A.S. degree in photonics and optics will address a need demonstrated by surveys of employers for photonics technicians in the Chicago metropolitan area and the Midwest region, according to Steve Dulmes, a CLC photonics instructor and department head who worked on the application for the grant along with Lynn Wiechert, a medical imaging instructor.
In developing the degree, CLC will work in collaboration with Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa; NSF’s National Center for Optics and Photonics Education (OP-TEC); and the Lake County High Schools Technology Campus, the largest technical secondary education system in Illinois.
Dulmes said that the degree will be designed with the needs of busy, working adults in mind. Instruction will be offered in modules, through a combination of on-line and in-class instruction, and students will be able to enroll on an “open-entry” basis—not just at the start of a traditional semester.
Dulmes said several students who completed the certificates have been hired by local companies with salaries as high as $85,000 per year.
Submitted by the College of Lake County