Elgin Community College provides more space for CTE students


Matt Karambelas

Plastic manufacturing building in sights for ECC CTE expansion.

Matt Karambelas, Managing Editor

Elgin Community College is looking to expand its Career and Technical Education programs by purchasing an existing manufacturing building. The existing manufacturing structure would give students the opportunity to be better prepared for manufacturing jobs they’re studying here at ECC.

A little over a month ago, ECC became aware of an existing building for purchase. This building would allow for a much quicker timeframe than the plan for a new building. The estimated timeframe for the new building being completed, near Building O, would have been around two years. CTE students would be able to use the existing building much sooner once the construction was complete.

“The building is adjacent to the already placed Building K and is planned to house the CTE programs,” ECC President Dr. Sam said. “It is set to give the students the opportunity to work on equipment from the local businesses for more hands-on experience.”

The local manufacturing businesses provided about $1.3 million worth of equipment for the students in these CTE programs. The mission of this expansion is to get students ready to work right after graduation with the needed hands-on experience.

ECC has its CTE students using the space available to them in Building O currently. Space is used to work with the donated equipment and hold classes. The building is set to be about 125,000 square feet, roughly the same size as Building A. This is set to give students enough space to work and learn in a space that’s their own.

“As the workers now retire, there is a need for graduates who know how to operate this type of machinery,” Sam said.

The ECC faculty for the CTE programs went around the nation to other state’s technical colleges with similar programs to see how they’re using the space they have to better suit the students for the needs for the future of manufacturing.

“The ECC faculty went around to; Greenville Technical College in Greenville, South Carolina, Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wisconsin, and Richard Daley College in Chicago, Illinois,” Sam said. “The faculty brought back with them ideas for how they want to utilize the space available to them for courses once everything is all said and done for the new building.”

The CTE programs at ECC offer courses in all things manufacturing. The types of programs consist of welding, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and others. These types of programs are in high demand in the area with the return of these manufacturing companies.

ECC issued a waitlist as space was severely limited. The waitlist was in response to the increased demand from the students wanting to enroll in these programs. The existing building by Building K would provide more space for ECC to reconsider the waitlist for students interested in CTE programs. There was no news on whether there would still be a waitlist even with the inclusion of the additional space.

“Currently, there is no estimated completion date as to when the building will be ready for students to start working on their programs,” Sam said. “We’re too early in the stages for us to get an accurate timeline for use of this building.”

ECC and the Board of Trustees are hard at work making sure the already existing building is up to the standards for ECC’s CTE programs, faculty, and its students.

“The next steps will be to inspect the building, then create an appraisal and then go to the Board of Trustees with the information for their decision,” Sam said. After that is all said and done then construction crews and architects can design and create the space to be best utilized for the students using it. This existing building is to set up students with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue successful careers with these manufacturing companies.