Patrick K. Ward is enrolled in the IMAE off-campus degree program at the College of DuPage.
SIU opens up opportunities for students at the College of DuPage
By Pete Rosenbery
CARBONDALE, Ill. — For Patrick K. Ward, a welding instructor at Technology Center of DuPage (TCD), the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s industrial management and applied engineering (IMAE) program while helping high school students pursue their own dreams is a perfect fit.
One of 10 students enrolled in SIU’s off-campus program launched this fall at the College of DuPage, Ward — who has a background working in plastic companies and sheet metal unions — believes the degree will help him strengthen his soft skills and technical skills that are also needed in the industry.
Ward, 29, who lives in Bloomingdale, Illinois, about 15 minutes from the College of DuPage, teaches four basic welding process classes to high school juniors and seniors at TCD that correlate into dual credit with the College of DuPage.
"I'm contributing to training the next generation to be safer, smarter and more agile," said Ward, who is also a part-time adjunct faculty instructor in the college’s welding program . "The main reason I'm an instructor is because of the lack of training I received in the field and learning on the job was stressful, hard and poor. If I can provide at least one student with the knowledge, tools and hands-on experience manufacturers are looking for, then the cycle will progress to expand throughout the years."
SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin Lane and College of DuPage President Brian Caputo signed the memorandum of understanding Sept. 6 in Glen Ellyn. The agreement allows students who have an Associate in Applied Science degree to complete their undergraduate education in 24 months without relocating to Southern Illinois, an attractive option for place-bound working adults.
“Our program has always been in the business of serving nontraditional students,” said Julie Dunston, associate professor and IMAE program coordinator. “The more students, the more opportunities we can provide for those students who cannot come to Carbondale. We think that is a very positive thing.”
Students can earn 9 credit hours each semester. IMAE offers three accelerated courses each semester, one course at a time in August, mid-September and late October. Students meet three times every other weekend over a five-week period, in all-day sessions, and they have assigned work during off-weekends. Three different faculty members teach the onsite courses.
“The one thing that is distinctive about this whole modality of offering the courses is you do have working adults,” Dunston said. "They are bringing their own experiences into the classroom, sharing ideas of problems they ran into and how they solved it."
The program isn’t just about learning content, but there also are networking opportunities for students to learn about potential jobs, Dunston said.
Dunston noted the close relationship that has developed between academic advisers with the SIU’s College of Engineering, Computing, Technology and Mathematics and the College of DuPage. College of DuPage officials are “very protective of their students” and want to make sure “they are handing their students off to someone who is going to take care of them,” she said.
"They have confidence in us," Dunston said. "We’ve gained their trust in knowing that if their students come to our program that we are going to take care of them."
The IMAE off-campus program is also offered at other community colleges throughout the state — Richard J. Daley College (one of the City Colleges of Chicago), Illinois Central College in Peoria, Joliet Junior College and the University Center of Lake County in Grayslake, in addition to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County near Belleville and O’Fallon.