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Big Support In Kick-Off Of RVC/NIU Engineering Program Campaign

Susan Stephens

A program designed to educate -- and keep -- engineers in Rockford officially kicked off its six-million dollar fundraising campaign Tuesday. The joint project between Rock Valley College and Northern Illinois University is already halfway to its goal.

Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ
NIU and RVC officials line up for pictures at the fundraising campaign kickoff Tuesday.

  Outside the future engineering classroom in Rock Valley College’s Woodward Technology Center, dozens of young tech-minded people celebrated Engineering week: they raced robots, checked out a simple solar vehicle, talked with the professionals. Inside the classroom, officials from Rock Valley and their partners from Northern Illinois University urged local industry leaders to join their “Engineering Our Future” campaign.

So far, they’ve quietly raised three million toward their six million dollar goal. That will be used to cover scholarships, renovate and equip engineering labs, and hire faculty for their joint program. Promod Vohra is dean of NIU’s College of Engineering. He says making it possible for students to get their associates and bachelors degrees satisfies three important aspects of higher education: affordability, accessibility, and diversity. He says “we are able to offer a degree for less than $50,000 and starts them at 72, which is a good deal.”

RVC president Mike Mastroianni says it’s an even better deal for Rockford-area students because they can live at home AND intern with local companies that need talented engineers.

“Our industry partners tells us that we cannot possibly provide enough students for all of their internship opportunities that are out there. They will have opportunities for anyone who wants one.”

Mastroianni says this is his school’s largest fundraising goal, and they’ve already received their largest gift in school history: two million dollars from the charitable arm of aerospace industry supplier, Woodward. 

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.