RVC Partnership Wins State Recognition

During the academic year, the 48 community colleges in Illinois work with nearly 10,000 unique employers. The multitude of partnerships between community colleges and business and industry partners not only feed the workforce pipeline but also drive workforce development in our state.

RVC President Dr. Spearman, Bourn & Koch VP Todd Wells, and RVC Board Chair Bob Trojan

At the ICCTA Awards Ceremony: RVC President Dr. Spearman, Bourn & Koch VP Todd Wells, and RVC Board Chair Bob Trojan

Each year, the Illinois Community College Trustee Association (ICCTA) recognizes an Illinois business that has built successful workforce-training alliances with their local community college. This year, Bourn & Koch received the 2024 Business/Industry Partnership Award for their collaboration with Rock Valley College, selected from 11 nominations. 

“Bourn and Koch has been an essential partner in building the industry infrastructure for the next generation of manufacturing students. Bourn and Koch is one of the most active members of our manufacturing advisory committee, and their commitment to the college has provided careers for many of our students,” explained Dr. Hansen Stewart, RVC’s Vice President of Career Technical Education and Workforce Development. 

For over 10 years, RVC has partnered with Bourn and Koch to be aware of the needs of the manufacturing sector. Together, they have crafted a continuum of development for prospective students, current students, and current Bourn and Koch employees to turn to RVC as their educational institution. Bourn and Koch are an essential piece of RVC’s manufacturing advisory committee. This committee is instrumental in ensuring curriculum and course offerings remain innovative and tailored to the business needs of our unique community. In addition, Bourn and Koch has helped revamp RVC's apprenticeship model, and continue to be a voice to build and develop the mechatronics curriculum.   

The partnership between RVC and Bourn and Koch is truly reciprocally beneficial to both organizations.  

“Manufacturers aren’t generally known as teachers,” explained Todd Wells, Vice President of Operations at Bourn and Koch. “We develop our mentors best we know how to, and this approach works best with transferring tribal and standardized BK knowledge. RVC’s professional teaching staff are more capable of teaching specific subject matter than our internal team can.”  

Wells, a graduate of RVC, knows firsthand the benefits that RVC can offer its students.  

RVC has been critical to my own professional career development. I would not be qualified to perform many of the roles I have fulfilled over my past 30 years of experience if it were not for my time invested in the education offered by RVC

In his role at Bourn and Koch, Wells is positioned to give back to the community that developed him, and he helps pave the way for advanced technology workers to enter the workforce. 

Wells continued, “The Rock River Valley Tooling and Machining Association apprenticeship program is made possible with the support of RVC, and the program is vital to developing journeymen for the skilled trades that are relevant to our business: machine tool builders & machinists. Quite frankly, we need to move fast with skills development, and we can only do that with partnerships like the one we have with RVC.” 

At RVC, students can learn in environments that are designed to be like what students will encounter in the workplace. The learning labs have been set up with ‘like processes’ and ‘like equipment’ that enables RVC to provide an equivalent setting for newer talent to hone their skills. An effective educational training center made possible by organizations like Bourn and Koch with a seat at the RVC advisory committee table.  

“Just over five years ago, our management team deemed our training program was a critical business need. We have made significant efforts to capture and catalog knowledge important to each role within the business. I consider this recognition a bit of a ‘stamp of approval’ on the third-party provider portion of our learning management system,” said Wells. “We are honored to be recognized for the partnership we’ve worked closely with RVC to develop.”