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KCC and NIU Alliance Creates New Engineering Degree Pathways

Kankakee Community College press release
KANKAKEE, IL – October 26, 2015 – A pair of new agreements between Kankakee Community College and Northern Illinois University will make it easier for KCC students to earn college degrees that will set them on the path to career success.
In a ceremony Friday, the two institutions signed a new degree completion program that will allow some KCC students to earn a bachelor’s degree in technology from NIU without leaving the region. They also celebrated a reverse transfer agreement put in place last August, which allows NIU students who previously attended KCC to apply credits from the university toward the completion of an associate degree.
“We’re hearing from local business partners how important it is that our students have both technical and leadership skills as we prepare the next generation of business leaders,” said Dr. John Avendano, KCC president. “Our alliance with NIU will help grow the workforce in our community.”
“Postsecondary education is a powerful force for career advancement, and a skilled workforce helps the region maintain its competitive advantage,” said Dr. Doug Baker, NIU president. “Both NIU and KCC are committed to providing affordable access to high-quality educational opportunities and we are delighted to partner with them on these initiatives, which eliminate barriers and foster innovative educational pathways between levels of higher education.”
Students who earn an Associate in Applied Science degree from KCC in any of 13 areas, can now complete remaining general education and Bachelor of Science program prerequisites at KCC or NIU before taking their final 30 hours of technology courses with NIU, either online or on campus in DeKalb. Upon completion, students will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in technology with an emphasis in applied manufacturing technology from NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.
“This agreement is unique because it allows KCC students to complete up to three years toward their bachelor’s degree on the KCC campus,” said Dr. Michael Boyd, vice president for instructional and student success at KCC. “Students will be workforce ready, and they can complete the fourth year online while living and working in the area. This degree is closely aligned with workforce skills, and students will be ready to quickly advance from entry-level positions into leadership roles.”
“This is a great program for place-bound professionals, who are working or already have their AAS degree,” said Dr. Cliff Mirman, chair of the NIU Department of Technology. “It allows them to take classes online, at their own pace, to earn a bachelor’s degree, which ultimately opens up many opportunities for career advancement.”
The online component features recorded lectures by NIU faculty, the opportunity to interact with faculty and an array of online materials that enrich the learning experience, Mirman said.
Dr. Promod Vohra, dean of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at NIU, hailed the program as a boom to the Illinois economy, saying “Engineers are the catalyst of innovation. We are excited about programs like these because they help ensure that our region will remain a vital player in the global economy by creating new engineers.”
More information on NIU’s online degree program in applied manufacturing technology is at www.bsamt.niu.edu, or contact Stacey Deegan (sdeegan@niu.edu) at 815-753-9943, or KCC’s Office of Student Services at 815-802-8500.
Reverse Transfer Agreement
Also Friday, leaders from the two institutions celebrated a memorandum of understanding signed last month that will allow eligible NIU students who transferred from KCC without their associate degrees to earn the two-year degree using credit from NIU courses.
“It is a wonderful tool that allows students to demonstrate to future employers and graduate institutions their determination to excel, and another example of how institutions of public higher education in Illinois can collaborate to deliver high-quality, affordable education.” said Baker.
A 2014 NIU Center for Governmental Studies report to the Illinois Community College Board found that a degree from KCC increases earnings for workers. A KCC graduate can expect a total lifetime earnings gain of over $735,000 more than people without degrees.
Kankakee Community College is an accredited two-year college which awards associate degrees and certificates of completion. KCC prepares students both to transfer to four-year colleges and to enter the workforce. The college also offers continuing education courses and certification training, literacy programs, English as a Second Language and GED preparation. The KCC mission is “Enhancing quality of life through learning.” The college has a Riverfront Campus in Kankakee, South Extension Center in Watseka, North Extension Center in Bradley and Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Center in Kankakee.