Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2019
Media Contact: Dave Costello, 815-921-4516
The innovative partnership between Northern Illinois University (NIU), Rock Valley College (RVC) and regional industry continues to generate positive results as 16 students graduated Saturday from NIU’s College of Engineering & Engineering Technology with Bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering. Meanwhile, 23 students will graduate from RVC this weekend with Associate in Engineering Science degrees and will enter NIU Engineering @ RVC this fall.
NIU Engineering @ RVC is a community-based, industry-integrated program which allows Rockford area students to take all their classes on the RVC campus. The first two years are taught by RVC faculty and the second two years are taught by NIU engineering faculty. Throughout their academic programs, students gain real world experience and valuable professional connections while working as paid interns in regional companies. Nearly 50 students are interning in 22 local companies and more than 200 students are moving through the program, taking either RVC or NIU classes.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the development of NIU Engineering @ RVC,” said Sagar Patel, president, aircraft turbine systems, Woodward. “Our commitment to grow our own talent and persistent collaboration is leading to this success. We have plenty of local talent and I look forward to many more graduates entering the workforce with excellent pay and minimal debt.”
Donald Peterson, dean of the NIU College of Engineering & Engineering Technology had the chance to interact with the Rockford students as he taught the senior design course in the students’ final semesters.
“The Rockford students are well-prepared, hard-working and have the added benefit of extensive workplace experience due to their internships with local companies. In Rockford, the pathway to success in an engineering career is clear. We are grateful to all of our partners for working with us to make that possible.”
As RVC prepares for its commencement ceremony this weekend, RVC president Doug Jensen welcomes the opportunity to highlight the importance of education and industry partnerships in preparing students for careers in the region.
“NIU Engineering @ RVC is a signature partnership that supports some of our region’s most significant economic sectors: advanced manufacturing and aerospace. It is clear from the success of our students and the positive responses from employers that this program is filling a critical need.”
NIU Engineering @ RVC was launched in 2016 with enthusiastic support from regional donors who contributed generously to the “Engineering our Future” campaign. The leadership team that collaborated to create the program continues to meet weekly to ensure its success, sustainability and evolution. NIU Engineering @ RVC has become a national model for collaborative workforce development solutions. The University Economic Development Association honored the program with the Award of Excellence for Talent & Place Development and the program has been highlighted at multiple higher education conferences. Locally, NIU Engineering @ RVC won a Rockford Chamber of Commerce Confluence Award for excellence in collaboration.
While the accolades are welcome, all of the NIU Engineering @ RVC partners agree that the most important indicator of success is the experience of students who are achieving their academic and professional aspirations and employers who look forward to hiring NIU Engineering @ RVC graduates due to their excellence, experience and work ethic.