Technical Education Archives - Southwestern Illinois College

Manufacturing Day: SWIC & Local Manufacturers Showcase Future of Industry

Check out high-tech automated manufacturing machinery, hear from regional manufacturers and discover how American manufacturing is flourishing – all at the Southwestern Illinois College Manufacturing Day celebration.

SWIC will open its doors for a Manufacturing Day Open House — Friday, Sept. 23, from
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. — to showcase new technology, educational programs, career opportunities, products and services. The SWIC Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, 4950 Maryville Road, will serve as the event hub for the day.

More than 1,300 local high school students are scheduled to attend.

The celebration is free and open to the public. The welcome ceremony begins at 9 a.m.

“Our goal is to show students and the community what great opportunities are available in technical education at SWIC and that there is an abundance of well-paying, secure careers in manufacturing right here in the Metro East,” said SWIC Dean of Technical Education Brad Sparks.  

At the opening ceremony, Andrew Crowe, founder of the New American Manufacturing Renaissance, a movement to revitalize American manufacturing, will serve as the keynote speaker. SWIC winners of national Department of Defense Project MFG competition will be recognized by Project MFG representatives and SWIC national SkillsUSA medal winners will be recognized by representatives of Illinois SkillsUSA.

At the open house, visitors can tour the Precision Machining Technology, Electrical/ Electronics, Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, and Welding Technology labs. Plus, they can see first-hand how cutting-edge computerized machining and robotic welding equipment is changing technical education and manufacturing.

Also, visitors can try their hands at virtual welding, enjoy 3D printing demonstrations, meet more than 30 local manufacturers and tour a local manufacturing facility.

This event in presented in partnership with the Gene Haas Foundation, Granite City Economic Development Department, IMEC – Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, Madison County Employment and Training, St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department and the Southwestern Madison County Chamber of Commerce. For additional information, visit or call the SWIC Technical Education Division at 618-931-0600, ext. 7476.

SWIC Team win National Department of Defense competition

The Southwestern Illinois College Integrated Manufacturing team took first place at the Department of Defense Project MFG National Competition at Wichita State University May 10-13. Congratulations to students Connor Barnard, Brendan Caswell and Jacob Ing, plus faculty members Mark Bosworth, Jerry Bonifield and Dave Berry. The team designed and created a complex part using advanced multi-axis CNC technology. The goal of the event is to promote advanced manufacturing and highlight the critical need for these careers.

For more information about the SWIC Precision Machining Technology program, visit

SWIC student wins Head of the Class award for HVAR skills

Hard work and dedication have paid off for a Southwestern Illinois College Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration student.

Isaac Sinn of Coulterville was chosen by the college’s HVAR program for the Head of Class award. Presented by tool supplier, Malco, the award recognizes perfect attendance, class participation and a willingness to learn. Sinn was recommended for the award by instructors.

“This is a great program with great instructors,” Sinn said. “I’m gaining a lot of knowledge in the program and earning a degree will be beneficial in starting my career.”

Sinn is pursuing his Associate in Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.

“He’s a really dedicated student,” said HVAR Program Coordinator Keith Otten. “We’re very proud of the work he’s doing in the program and he’s a great example for other students.”

SWIC offers a two-year, 72-semester-credit Associate in Applied Science degree and a one-year, 45-semester-credit certificate in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.

 For more information on the SWIC HVAR program, call Otten at 618-931-0600, ext. 5175 or visit

SWIC PMT Program receives national accreditation renewal

Once again, Southwestern Illinois College Industrial Training programs have shown their mettle in metal.

The SWIC Precision Machining Technology program received reaccreditation from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills recently. This accreditation signifies that the SWIC programs maintain industry standards for machinist training.

It is the third consecutive time SWIC has received the accreditation since the standard was established by NIMS in 2009. Accreditation will last through 2026.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure our students receive the state-of-the-art training needed to work in industry,” said Industrial Technology Program Coordinator Mark Bosworth. “We’re proud to continue to work with NIMS to maintain our accreditation.”

SWIC offers an Associate in Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology, plus certificates in CNC Machining, Mastercam software, SolidWorks software and Advanced CNC Programming, Precision Machining Technology.

SWIC is rated highly in all eight evaluation criteria: Program Purpose; Facilities; Equipment, Tooling, and Measuring Devices; Program Features; Administration and Management; Instructional Staff; Student Credentials; and Program Advisory Committee.

SWIC programs will maintain their NIMS Machining Level I National Standard rating. Additionally, students can use their training at SWIC to earn NIMS machining credentials.

For more information on SWIC Industrial Technology programs, call 618-931-0600, ext. 7475.

SWIC Receives $1.2 Million Workforce Equity Grant for 2022

A $1.2 million Workforce Equity Initiative Grant from the Illinois Community College Board will enable Southwestern Illinois College to continue offering its one-year career training programs in East St. Louis.

“We are excited to have another year to work with this population of students and help them change their lives” said Leonard “Gary” Cruise, East St. Louis Higher Education Center Program Outreach Coordinator/Site Administrator. “This grant has provided a chance for those who want to take charge of the direction that will push their families into a new start. All of the students who have participated in our programs have been very thankful.”

SWIC received a $1.4 million WEI grant in 2020 and a $1.2 million grant in 2021 to develop employment training programs to assist minorities in underserved communities. Those programs include certificates in Welding, Nurse Assistant, Food Service, Forklift Training, and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Phlebotomy, Practical Nursing. Since 2019, 130 students have received credentials.

A Web Design certificate will be offered starting in fall 2022.

“This is an amazing opportunity to continue to make an impact in our local communities through the implementation of our Workforce Equity programming,” said Scott Queener, Ph.D., Director of Enrollment Development and Campus Operations. “The additional funding allows us to continue to offer specialized educational training that targets the current employment gaps in our workforce. As a result of this grant, we are able to expand our educational programs this year.”

In addition to program development, grant funds have allowed SWIC to purchase a food truck to teach a food service class and a mobile technical education trailer to teach precision machining in that community.

To help students start their new careers, SWIC has earmarked funds from the 2021 grant to provide a stipend to students who complete a certificate program and secure employment.

The award to SWIC is part of an $22.8 million ICCB grant to 18 community colleges throughout the state that serve African American and other minority populations.

For the full WEI report visit:

To find out how you can sign up for one of the WEI career training programs, contact Cruise at 618-874-6595 or

SWIC Aviation programs win Spirit of Flight award

Southwestern Illinois College recently won the 2020/2021 Spirit of Flight Award from the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame, the first two-year college to receive the award. Pictured from left, Dean of Technical Education and Workforce Development Bradley Sparks, Aviation Pilot Training Coordinator Keith Mueller and Aviation Maintenance Technology Coordinator Matthew Harter in the AVMT Hangar. The Spirit of Flight award annually goes to the organization that has made a substantial contribution to aviation in Illinois, with Illinois-based activities over a long period of time. The winning organization’s members must go above and beyond the call of duty and exhibit a high degree of excellence in their accomplishments. The award was presented at the annual Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame banquet in St. Charles, Illinois in October. SWIC offers associate in applied science degrees and certificates in Aviation Pilot Training and Aviation Maintenance Technology. The college’s Aviation programs were established more than 50 years ago. For more information about SWIC Aviation programs, visit

SWIC announces apprenticeship initiative designed to pair classroom learning with on-the-job training

Just in time for National Apprenticeship Week 2021, Nov. 15-19, Southwestern Illinois College has earned its certificate of registration in the U. S. Department of Labor’s National Apprenticeship Program. As a registered apprenticeship sponsor, SWIC will be able to help employers in the region develop apprenticeship programs to serve their hiring needs with a minimum of red tape.

A registered apprenticeship is the gold standard of workforce development, combining on-the-job training with related classroom instruction and attention to “soft” skills such as leadership, cooperation, teamwork, and work ethic.  

“Apprenticeship really has something for everyone, and that’s what makes it such an attractive workforce strategy,” said Mike Conley, SWIC’s director of workforce development and career pathways. “Employers improve recruitment and retention, and boost productivity. Employees have opportunities for high-wage careers, and educational institutions help reinforce the imperative of high-quality training.”

The commitment from employers helps build greater loyalty, job satisfaction, and a sense of accountability. Employees have access to proven training methods in both the technical skills of a career and the specific requirements of an individual company.

The college’s role in the process, Conley explained, is both as a training provider and a facilitator for apprenticeship programs, especially for small companies that may not have the resources to build their own programs. 

SWIC will coordinate apprenticeship programs in the occupations of General Machinist, Shipping and Receiving Clerk, Dock Worker (warehousing), Welder, Pharmacist Assistant, and Aircraft Maintenance Technician. Conley emphasized that the college will likely expand that list significantly in the future, based on demand from employers. Being a registered sponsor means the college also has access to the Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Management Data System and its resources.

 “Statistically, 94 percent of apprentices continue to work for the same company after the apprenticeship has ended,” Conley said. “More than 90 percent of companies who have tried apprenticeship would recommend it to their peers.”

Successful apprenticeship programs are being launched throughout the nation in fields as varied as manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, insurance and financial services, hospitality, and retail trade, among others.

“U.S. businesses are enjoying record demand for their services and products, but they can’t maintain enough supply to satisfy it, and a big reason for that is a lack of human capital,” Conley said. “Apprenticeship is simply the most effective way to meet the workforce needs as well as the demand for services and products.”

A list of resources and events for the week is available at

For more information about SWIC apprenticeship programs, contact Conley at 618-235-2700, ext. 5139, or

SWIC 2021 SkillsUSA PMT National Winners

Southwestern Illinois College students earned bronze medals at the 2021 National SkillsUSA competition held in July. SWIC students, from left to right, include Bryce Griggs of Granite City, Alex MidKiff of Belleville, Billy Laycock of Marine, Philip Culiberk of Maryville, Steven Boss of O’Fallon and Will Andersen of St. Louis.  Laycock, MidKiff and Andersen won as a team in Automated Manufacturing Technology; Boss earned a medal for CNC Milling; and Culiberk took his prize in the CNC Technician category. Griggs competed at the state level but was unavailable to compete at the national level. Andersen said the most challenging part about the competition was coordinating all of their efforts so they worked together smoothly as a team. SkillsUSA is a national technical education organization that partners educators, employers and students to teach greater skills to Americans. The SkillsUSA Championships are competitive events showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation. Due to COVID restrictions, competitors completed their projects at their respective colleges. SWIC Precision Machining students have won 13 national machining medals in the last 10 years, the most by any college in the country.

SWIC student wins Head of the Class award for HVAR skills

Hard work and dedication have paid off for a Southwestern Illinois College Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration student.

Donald Rommerskirchen of Highland was chosen by the college’s HVAR program for the Head of Class award. Presented by tool supplier, Malco, the award recognizes perfect attendance, class participation and a willingness to learn. All candidates are top students recommended by instructors.

“This is a great program,” he said. “You learn from a variety of instructors who have a wide variety of expertise and experience working on residential and commercial equipment.”

Rommerskirchen, who retired from a career in maintenance at a correctional facility, hopes to open his own HVAR business when he graduates at the end of the summer. His goal is to install and repair HVAR equipment at an affordable price.

“He’s a really dedicated student,” said HVAR Program Coordinator Keith Otten. “I can always count on him to help instructors in class and help other students who are just starting out.”

SWIC offers a two-year, 72-semester-credit Associate in Applied Science degree and a one-year, 45-semester-credit certificate in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.

 For more information on the SWIC HVAR program, call Otten at 618-931-0600, ext. 5175 or visit

Gov. Pritzker Announces $15M Investment to Create Two State of the Art Manufacturing Training Academies Downstate

KTVI Channel 2 news: SWIC to develop new manufacturing training academy with state grant

Funding from Bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan Will Establish Two New, Cutting Edge Training Academies to Prepare Illinoisans for Future Jobs and Boost Investment in Downstate Communities 

NORMAL, IL – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), joined by Heartland Community College and Rivian, today announced an investment to build two advanced manufacturing training academies to expand training for high-demand manufacturing jobs in Illinois. A $15 million capital investment through the Governor’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan will establish two downstate manufacturing training academies that will provide hundreds of Illinois residents the opportunity to develop specialized skills for a career in advanced manufacturing.

“Today, I’m proud to announce the winning projects that will launch two cutting edge new programs here in Illinois, which will begin enrolling students later this year,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This capital investment – spurred by our historic Rebuild Illinois capital program – builds on the funding that Rebuild already devotes to upgrading and expanding facilities at Illinois community colleges, cementing their key role in continuing to train our young workforce, and lifelong learners keeping their skills fresh. Today is just one indicator of the job and skills growth our state is seeing. Workforce investments like those we’re announcing here foreshadow even more good jobs we can fill in the future.”

The new training facilities will be established at Heartland Community College (HCC) in Normal, and Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) in Metro East.  State funds will be met with $4.95 million in matching commitments for capital projects, as well as additional support from employers and regional partners to establish new training academies.

“Today’s announcement delivers on a key commitment made under Governor Pritzker’s 5-year economic plan, which calls for investments in downstate communities to prepare our next generation of workers with a pathway to well-paying jobs of the future,” said Sylvia Garcia, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.  “As the electric vehicle industry and other advanced manufacturing roles see increasing demand – in Illinois, we are preparing to seize those jobs, with investments made across our communities and to maintain our state as a top destination for companies to grow and invest.”

Programs are expected to launch later this year, enrolling hundreds of students in the first year of the program. While each program will have a different focus, both will help meet the demand for state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing training downstate, preparing Illinoisans to seize on advanced careers in the manufacturing sector in the years ahead.

“Community Colleges play an essential role in providing affordable and equitable access to education, and in turn, a pathway to sustainable careers. And partnership is key to building and maintaining the workforce needed to fulfil the promise of innovation in technical education and to grow the economy,” said Heartland Community College President Keith Cornille. “Working with the DECO and Rivian, and our other regional manufacturing partners, we gain key pieces in providing a pathway to a sustainable career for students both coming right out of High School and also those who look to re-enter the workforce. With the new Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy, Heartland Community College will be a hub for innovation, and a resource for those looking for upskilling in a wide variety of occupations.”

At Heartland, a $7.5 million grant from the State will enable the development of the new Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy (EVES). This first-of-its-kind EV manufacturing training program is made possible by a partnership with electric vehicle manufacturer, Rivian, which is expected to create an additional 1,600 jobs in the next two years alone. Matching state funds with a $1.5 million private employer commitment, HCC will develop a new auto shop used exclusively for training for EV manufacturing. This program will help meet growing needs of the region and will prepare Illinois to seize on the rapid growth of the EV industry, with Illinois jobs expected to double by 2024.

“Rivian is honored to have supported the leadership of Governor Pritzker in establishing the Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy,” said James Chen, Vice President of Public Policy and Chief Regulatory Counsel for Rivian. “This project will help prepare local workers for the well-paid, technical jobs that the clean energy transition requires.  This project also reflects Rivian’s core values of community empowerment, innovation, and a strong foundation for the continued growth and success of the electric vehicle industry. We thank Governor Pritzker, the Illinois DCEO, and Heartland Community College for making this academy a reality.”

At SWIC, a second $7.5 million grant will create a new manufacturing education hub in Belleville – expanding upon the school’s successful manufacturing training facilities. The Advanced Manufacturing Center will break ground in 2021 and will welcome students into its new facilities by fall 2022. The project will be completed in two phases: with the first creating a new precision machining pathway; and the second aiming to expand career training for roles in industrial electricity and welding manufacturing. Construction on a new 31,100 SF lab space complete will provide new computers and other specialized equipment. This new program will also prioritize helping to address equity gaps in the region – with SWIC creating a new diverse recruitment program to help ensure more minority and women students can participate in newly created training.

“One of Southwestern Illinois College’s primary goals is to train students for well-paying, highly skilled, in-demand career fields, and the construction of a manufacturing training academy will bolster these efforts,” said SWIC President Nick Mance. “In light of the unemployment rate and economic distress in the area, it is more crucial than ever that students embark on a viable career pathway that leads directly to steady employment paying a living wage or better.”

“Manufacturing remains an important and growing industry for our state, and we are poised, with the right investments, to ensure more Illinoisans get the opportunities they need to train for these 21st century jobs,” said Brian Durham, Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). “These training academies will address a skills shortage in the manufacturing industry and adopt new technologies in manufacturing production while meeting the needs of many regional employers, located in these downstate communities.”

“This grant is a natural fit for Heartland Community College and will enhance every aspect of manufacturing training and education for students! The proximity of Heartland and Rivian Motors will be a strong connection for the technology needs for Students and this funding will be a great foundation of investment,” said Deputy Republican Leader Dan Brady. “Thank you, Governor Pritzker, Heartland President Keith Cornille, and trustees. I am pleased to have played a part in this education, and jobs training investment!”

“This is an important grant that will help this program to train people to be successful in high tech careers with employers such as Rivian,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “It’s good to see the state step up to help keep our workforce ready for a changing and ever-competitive global economy.”

Since taking office, Governor Pritzker has prioritized making investments in the manufacturing industry that will create jobs, advance access to training, and maintain Illinois as a top destination for manufacturing growth and innovation. This includes the creation of the apprenticeship tax credit to further establish and build out the pipeline of skilled talent of advanced manufacturers in our state to help prepare Illinois to seize the new jobs created by this growing industry in the years ahead. Additionally, the Governor’s pledge to make Illinois a clean energy state by 2050 is predicted to increase jobs in the EV sector.

For more information on the two Manufacturing Training Academies programs, please visit DCEO’s website.