Career Technologies

February 14, 2018

February is Career and Technical Education Month and Kishwaukee College is celebrating along with community colleges and technical colleges across the state of Illinois.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepares individuals for high-skill, in-demand employment that furthers Illinois’ global competitiveness. Last year, roughly two-thirds (62.2%) of all Illinois community college graduates earned a CTE degree or certificate. CTE programs offer flexible scheduling, work-based learning, and stackable credentials that provide a pathway from education to employment not only for recent high school graduates, but also for returning adults, veterans, and incumbent workers.

Success in CTE programming is amplified by academic support services, work-based learning opportunities, and business engagement. CTE’s reach in Illinois’ workforce continues to be expansive; currently, there are over 4,300 different CTE program offerings across the community college system.

Kishwaukee College offers over 70 certificates and two-year degrees that meet the demands of local business and industry for highly-skilled employees. CTE programs at Kishwaukee College include health care fields from Emergency Medical Services to Nursing and Radiologic Technology; manufacturing and industry fields including Electronics, Welding and Automated Engineering Tech; and preparing students for four-year university programs in Business, Engineering, and Health Care. In Fall 2017, Kish added an apprenticeship program through Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (ICATT) to offer on-the-job experiences with a degree curriculum leading to an Associates in Applied Science degree.

“Kishwaukee College is proud to partner with our local business and industry as we strive to provide the best trained, skilled and educated workforce to meet their needs,” stated Dr. Laurie Borowicz, President of Kishwaukee College. “So many local businesses have hired our graduates, knowing that they are adding an excellent employee to their team. We join other community colleges in the state and recognize our excellent programs, faculty and students during Career and Technical Education Month.”

“Anyone interested in getting into a career that pays well and is in high demand should look into CTE programs. CTE programs are working with business and industry leaders around the state to fill their needs for skilled employees,” said Illinois Community College Board Executive Director Dr. Karen Hunter Anderson.

For more information about post-secondary career and technical education programs and services at Kishwaukee College, visit www.kish.edu. For information on career and technical education throughout Illinois visit www.iccb.org/cte.

August 14, 2017

When Andrew Dirienzo graduated from Kishwaukee College with a certificate in Welding Technology, he figured he would find a job as a welder in a local industry. He never imagined that he would land a position that would take him to northern Italy for training. But that is exactly what happened. 

Andrew graduated from Sycamore High School in 2011 and enlisted in the Air Force National Guard right out of school. “I signed up on my 18th birthday,” he said. “I was an Aerospace Ground Equipment Mechanic and did a tour of duty in Afghanistan.” 

When he returned from deployment in 2014, he signed up for classes at Kish. He took a few General Education courses and realized that he would rather work with his hands. He signed up for a couple of welding classes and found his path. “I really liked that you can take raw material and build something from it,” he explained. “My favorite types of welding are stick and TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding. We built trailers with [instructor] Steve Durin. Instructor Zach Caccia is really an excellent welder – I was his student assistant in the welding lab.”

Everything was going in a usual direction, until Brett Cole from Cole Pallet in Sycamore called Bernie Pupino, Coordinator of Career Technologies at Kish, with an unusual request: a company in Italy was manufacturing line equipment for Cole and wanted a local rep to install and train the Cole employees on the new line when it was ready to be delivered. Their preference was for a military veteran. Andrew fit the bill, perfectly.

The Corali company makes their home in Bergamo, Italy. The company builds manufacturing lines for industries that glue, stitch or use similar procedures to build their products, industries like Cole Pallet. After accepting the position, Andrew found himself training in northern Italy at Corali’s headquarters. “I actually use all the skills I learned in the military plus the welding,” he explained. “I do pneumatics, electrical, and hydraulics.”

Andrew returned to the Corali plant in Italy with Brett Cole this summer. It gave Cole an opportunity to see the equipment in action and running product. After Cole approved it, Andrew and the Corali team dismantled the line and prepared it to ship to Sycamore where Andrew will spend the next year installing it, calibrating it, and then training employees on running and maintaining it on site at Cole Pallet.

Andrew Dirienzo never expected that his decision to pursue welding at Kishwaukee College would line him up with the kind of job everyone dreams of. “I really thought I would get a local job, doing the same welds every day,” he said. “I never thought I would have a position where I travel to Europe!”


Pictured in front of Corali manufacturing equipment at a Pallet Manufacturing Conference in Germany this summer, is the Corali USA team, L to R: Alain Clicet, Sales; Andrew Dirienzo; Jeff Jenson, Corali USA President; and Rosely Rosa, Corali Parts Manager.

June 20, 2016

Jaime Briner, DeKalb, can state without hesitation what the best part of her ELE 102 PC Maintenance and Repair class was. “I was able to gut a computer with no fear of the consequences. If the thing caught fire, it still would've been alright.”  Her statement is interesting especially in light of the fact that she began that semester a self-described novice: “I knew nothing of computers and that terrified me.”

On the other hand, Susanna Eschbach, Cortland, took ELE 102 because, unlike Jaime, she has always loved computers. “I was initially drawn to the class on how to fix computers. I then saw the fall syllabus for the computer technology major and the classes sounded interesting, so I signed up for the Fall semester of classes!”

Lucy Farley, DeKalb, has always been drawn to programs where she can use her hands as well as her mind. “I knew I was looking towards the Career Technologies division to call home during my two-year community college adventure,” she stated. “Once into my first Industrial Electricity and PLC courses things seemed to fall into place. With a vast and unique field such as Electronics, I have great optimism in finding a career path and position that seems as though it were tailored to fit me.”

Overseeing all this enthusiasm is Charles Raimondi, Electronics Technology instructor at Kishwaukee College. Charles is just completing his second year with Kish but is no stranger to the electronics classroom and lab – he came to the College with five years college teaching experience.

Electronics is a growing field and its complexity and intricacies are an attractive entryway into STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) fields for women. According to the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor, women now comprise nearly 50% of all employees in the electronics industry and the demand for women in the field is growing rapidly.

Susanna is in the Computer Technology Program at Kish. “The first time you walk into an ELE class, you'll feel so overwhelmed. I'm half way through my second semester and I still feel that way a lot of the time. But then, if you persevere, you'll look back and be amazed at the amount of stuff you'll have learned and can do.”  She also credits Charles with making learning a combination of lecture and practical application in the lab. She said, “The mix makes sure that we understand both the practical and theoretical side of electronics.”

Lucy plans to transfer to a university but in the meantime has submerged herself in a program with an instructor who gives her the freedom to pursue her dream with just the right amount of support. “I am extremely fortunate to be employed within the department under my FANTASTIC instructor, Charles Raimondi, and am looking forward to the upcoming semesters,” she said. “Charles is extremely passionate about his work. The classroom atmosphere is best described as student-oriented. And Charles makes it a point to integrate women into STEM fields, as it is in high demand.”

But for Jaime, electronics is not a career goal. She plans to be a Public Relations professional, but learning the ins and outs of computers just made sense to her.  “I wanted to learn about computers considering how vital they are and likely will be later in my career.”

Susanna loves the challenge. “The best part of classes is always learning new stuff. It really never gets boringAnd it doesn't hurt that since the electronics field is one of the fastest growing industries, you're almost guaranteed a decent job as soon as you graduate!”

Enjoying the field and good job prospects makes the circuit complete.