OGLESBY, Ill. — Illinois Valley Community College’s success in landing National Science Foundation grants has led to a mentoring opportunity with a North Dakota college.
IVCC electronics instructor Jim Gibson and former instructor Rose Marie Lynch are mentoring a team from Williston State College’s petroleum automation and control program.
“This speaks to the strategic success we have had in acquiring NSF grants and also to our willingness to share hard-earned knowledge about the process with colleagues at other institutions,” said IVCC President Jerry Corcoran.
Since 2005, IVCC has procured more than $1.3 million from three NSF grants: Building an engineering technology workforce: A plan for reaching young people, adults and women; Preparing a new workforce for a sustainable economy; and, Embedding CQI methodology in two-year technical curricula.
Williston State will work with IVCC in NSF’s Mentor-Connect Program, an initiative providing guidance for its Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program.
Assigned experts Gibson and Lynch will assist WSC in a 10-month program to draft an ATE proposal. In addition to one-on-one mentorship, they will facilitate faculty and leadership development, offer technical assistance and ensure the grant is ready for review.
“Williston State was chosen from 29 schools representing 22 states,” said WSC’s Pamela Rasmussen. “At the end of the program, we will seek funding from the NSF to sustain and grow its petroleum automation and control program.”
The idea came from WSC petroleum technology instructor Alberto Bellina when he attended IVCC’s summer training in Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Automation taught by Gibson.
During one of the sessions, Gibson explained where IVCC was as a college before being awarded NSF grants and where it is now.
“When we began, we were in the basement without any equipment,” he said. “Now the first thing people see when they come to our college is our technology center. The square footage committed to our programs has increased by three-and-a-half times.”
Seeing the passion Bellina had for WSC’s petroleum program, Gibson and Lynch agreed to mentor the college during its application process. Gibson and Lynch joined forces with Bellina, Rasmussen, and Business Technology Chair Ken Quamme to form WSC’s Mentor-Connect team.
“We look forward to learning from Jim’s knowledge and experience in building his own automation and control program,” explained Bellina.
Gibson, Lynch and the WSC team are attending a Mentor-Connect workshop in New Orleans this week to begin the process.
“NSF did not have Mentor-Connect when we applied for NSF Grants,” Gibson noted. “The program teaches you what to do and what not to do when applying. It would have helped us get accepted earlier and avoid mistakes when we initially applied.”
Over 80 percent of participants in the Mentor-Connect program receive their ATE grant upon completion.
— Illinois Valley Community College
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