The number of students enrolled in the Design Technology Program at Iowa Western Community College in Atlantic, continues to grow. When the idea for the first-of-its kind program for a two-year college was proposed, the City of Atlantic and Cass County Board of Supervisors pledged $100,000 each to assist with the infrastructure necessary to make it possible. The first classes began in Sept., 2011.
Joseph Vanstrom, Design Technology Program Chair at IWCC in Atlantic, speaks to the Board of Supervisors on April 17th, 2013.
During a report to the Cass County Board of Supervisors Wednesday morning, Design Technology Program Chair Joseph Vanstrom said the first students in the two-year program are set to graduate next month, and their future looks very bright. Four students will be graduating in May. 13 students are currently enrolled in the program. There are also four internships within Cass County, with four more in development, for the new class of students. Two internships have led to part-time employment after the summer. In the case of the other two internships, students in the class were already working for those employers. Vanstrom says those same companies have expressed interest in hiring the interns, or part-time students, as full-time employees, upon graduation.
He says upon graduation all four students from the first DT class will have full-time employment within Cass County. Four students have moved to the County since the program began two-years ago: one for the first class, and three for the second. One of the students have purchased a home within the County. 10 students enrolled in the program the first year it was offered, but only four will graduate in May. Vanstrom says that’s because they weren’t prepared for the rigorous amount of study the program requires. He said they had a lack of the necessary math skills. To counteract that deficiency, Vanstrom says they are trying to get to students in the lower grades, and stress the importance of being proficient in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – STEM – especially if they want a job in the highly skilled and educated world of Design Technology.
Vanstrom says 30 students are enrolled in the third, two-year course which begins this Fall. Those students and the ones currently enrolled, will be able to work with a new piece of virtual design equipment the college is purchasing for the department.
It’s a laser mapping system that enables a product to replicated, in coordination with a 3-D printer. He says three companies in partnership with the college plan to purchase 3-D printer systems to expand their Research and Design (R&D) abilities. The students in the Design Tech program at IWCC have already used the 3-D system to create functional objects as part of their curriculum.
An expansion of the Cass County Center made possible by a $22.5-million bond referendum approved by the voters in 13 southwest Iowa counties last December, will be complete in Summer of 2014. It means more room for the Design Technology Department, and a commons area for the students to enjoy.