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A Big Thank You!

A big thank you to all sponsors, volunteers, robotics enthusiasts and attendees of the R2OC Competition held July 25 at Rock Valley College. More adults and children attended than in previous two years. We had great media coverage and in case you missed some of it, here is a link for 2015, 2014 and 2013 http://r2oc.org/media.html Thirty teams competed at Rock Valley College and has given 600 high school students from 3 states a brief look at what we have to offer. This competition brings much energy from the teams that design, build and compete with their robot units. The event was so successful these past 3 years that the FIRST Regional coordinators are looking to have a regular season competition, like in March, in some future year….right here in Rockford. We will be discussing this possibility during our Fall board meetings as well as start the planning for the 2016 Off-Season Competition next summer. On behalf of the R2OC board members, thank you again for your support. It made our event another success. Bob Trojan R2OC Board...

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Rock Valley College Community Survey Shows Community Support

One of Rock Valley College Board of Trustee’s Strategic Interests is to “Align the resources and potential of the College to educational needs of the District thereby increasing effectiveness”. At the July Board of Trustees meeting. a presentation “Addressing Regional Economic Need: Community Survey” was made by Lisa Mehlig, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, (this was presented in Open Session and the full report is on line at the RVC web site). I found this Survey very interesting and dispelled some of the negative comments I heard during my campaigning for Trustee earlier this year. The Survey included participants over the age of 18 and zip code address in the RVC District (which covers Winnebago, Boone and parts of 4 other counties). Using a multi-method data collecting approach, three student groups administered the survey. RVC students from the Association of Latin American Students, Eagle Dance Team and Students for Responsible Environmental Sustainability administered the survey at various community events and locations. AirFest, City Market were among the venues. Of the 1,000 surveys collected, 862 were complete and a stratified random sample was pulled from the 862 responses to report data more representative of the communities age; that is the samples by age correlated to the age distribution of the community. 8% of samples were age group 18-20; 15% of samples were age group 21-30, etc. Questions were asked and rated on a four point scale ranging from Strongly Agree (4) to Strongly Disagree (1). Now for the results; full detail contained in the July Board Packet available on-line. Overall Satisfaction rated a 95% Strongly Agree and Agree. Subsections included questions about the General Satisfaction with RVC, Satisfaction with Educational Programs, Satisfaction with Economic Development and Satisfaction with Cultural Enrichment. Each subsection had 2 – 5 questions. The Economic Development contained two questions: 1) RVC contributes to the economic growth of the community and 2) RVC supports workforce training needs in my community. These two questions rated at 3.4 out of 4.0. Program Importance and Quality was the next area of survey and seven questions were asked. Programs designed to prepare students for competitive employment and Programs designed for workforce training had Importance rating of 3.62 and 3.61 out of 4.0 and Quality rating of 3.45 and 3.5 out of 4.0. The other five questions rated in similar range. The next category dealt wiyh “Welcoming Environment” which shows the degree to which each RVC location is perceived as welcoming by the community. Of the sixe locations, the Main Campus had the highest rating (3.42) while the lowest was Truck Driver Training (3.07). The final category “Potential Barriers contained ten questions which had a rating scale from zero (Difficult) to 100 (Easy). Highest ratings were Format in which programs are offered (79), days of the week programs are offered (78). The The lowest ratings were Availability of Scholarships (65) Availability of Transportation and Other financial aid, both at 70. So what to make of all these questions and data contained in the seven page report? First, I was pleased to see a pretty good market assessment administered in the community with community input. Secondly, I thought the overall results were pretty favorable and the community likes what RVC is doing. Yes, there is room for improvement but that becomes the next...

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Illinois Community College System Celebrates 50 Years

Today (July 15, 2015) marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Illinois Public Community College Act. Fifty years later, the Illinois community college system is the state’s largest provider of higher education, serving nearly one million students each year. A coalition of community college groups (including the Illinois Community College Board, the ICCB Student Advisory Committee, the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents, the Illinois Council of Community College Administrators, the Illinois Community College Faculty Association, and the National Council on Marketing and Public Relations) has been formed to coordinate 50th anniversary events throughout the system. To kick off our yearlong observance, the coalition is pleased to unveil our new 50th Anniversary logo, designed by Christina Diaz of Carl Sandburg College. Watch for information about other upcoming 50th anniversary events, including: · Announcement of the official gubernatorial proclamation declaring 2015-2016 as “The Year of the Community College” in Illinois · A Mid-August 2015 news conference with Gov. Bruce Rauner · National Community College Month in April 2016 · Anniversary celebrations at coalition member meetings/conferences Happy 50th anniversary, Illinois community colleges, you are one million...

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JEFFERSON BAMIT SHARK TANK COMPETITION

Special thanks to the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Rockford Group who has been working with Mrs. Frazer’s Econ classes in implementing its first ever Shark Tank Project. Derek Erwin with Raymond James, Karl Arvidson with Thayer Lighting Inc., Tony Blaine with Field Fastener, Steve Franklin with Thermo Fisher, and Shane Siner with Chase Bank have worked with the BAMIT College and Career Readiness Council since October 2014 in helping to support RPS 205 BAMIT Academy initiatives such as the Shark Tank Project which was held March 25th – March 27th. Special thanks also goes out to Bergstrom Inc., Manpower, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and the US Army Recruiting Station in Rockford for providing community members to sit in as “sharks.” Click here to read all about the Shark Tank Project. Article courtesy of Alignment...

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EIGERlab/TechWorks 3.0

The sign “Lundin Learning Center” in the new TechWorks location in the Stenstrom Center brought back memories:. I wondered how many noticed it or knew the background? The memories start with the beginnings of the EIGERlab. A meeting was convened by the visionary Jon Lundin and Don Williams, then Chief Operating Officer at Rock Valley College and moderated by Keith Irons, a management consultant and former executive of Barber Colman.  A group from industry, academia and government was brought together and discussed how to improve the local manufacturing scene and create a new model.  This meeting took place October 21, 2002 during the 2000’s recession when local jobs were being lost daily and companies closing or moving out weekly. The result of these discussions evolved into the EIGERlab, which was located in facilities owned by Ingersoll Machine Tools on Fulton Avenue. Spearheaded by then Congressman Don Manzullo, Federal funds were obtained through the “Earmark” process, and the EIGERlab was born in 2004. It was overseen by Rockford Area Ventures (RAV) whose  board of Directors  was led by Irons. Lundin and I were among it’s original directors. It’s mission was to be a business incubator that would help new companies get started and nurtured into a company that could then move out into their own facility. BE Aerospace was an early example. “FAST PITCH” was also created here as a local “Shark Tank” where new ideas could be converted into a new business. At the other end of town, TechWorks struggled to stay alive in the Abilities Center organization. It was located in the domed, Quonset hut  building on 15th Ave. A new strategic plan was drawn up after the death of Lundin in 2007 and the mission of Abilities Center became: focus on Goodwill Industries, the profitable arm of Abilities Center and close the rest. As Abilities Center struggled with what to do with TechWorks, EIGERlab worked to define it’s mission. It was becoming obvious; we didn’t want to see TechWorks close and go away, so the two boards worked out the transfer of assets from Abilities Center to RAV and locate it in the EIGERlab. TechWorks began to be a profitable entity. Much credit belonged to Dave Morgan who was instrumental in the relocation as well as building the TechWorks name, reputation and attendance. The Lundin Learning Center was designated for the room which held all the TechWorks equipment. With the Federal Earmark monies beginning to run out, discussions took place between RAV and the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) to transfer EIGERlab/TechWorks entity to RAEDC. A separate organization was established in RAEDC and the next step was assured. Once again, EIGERlab/TechWorks survived. Last year discussions took place between RAEDC, Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Rock Valley College RVC); thus EIGERlab/TechWorks 3.0 was born. With TechWorks moving under RVC and located in the Stenstrom Center, they are now positioned to increase the manufacturing education offerings of RVC. At the recent Media Event, TechWorks showed off some of the new machine tools that have been added. In 2014, TechWorks graduated 87 students, with more than 70% finding employment. With EIGERlab moving under NIU, there can be no doubt that it too will thrive and grow. NIU’s acquisition, completed near the start of the year, “will allow greater links...

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ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL UPHEAVAL IN ASIA: SHIFTING ALLIANCES AND IMPACT ON AMERICA

Rockford University, in conjunction with Korea Economic Institute of America and Rockford Area Economic Development Council presents an exciting and informative panel of speakers discussing economic, social, and political challenges in Russia, Korea, Japan and China and the impact on America. Is Russia trying to restore its influence? What is the cause and effect of China’s lowest growth in 25 years? Can the Japanese get their economy restarted? Are there changing alliances among Russia and China; South Korea and China; North Korea and Russia, Japan and China? Has the US “Asian Shift” worked? PANEL PRESENTERS Dr. Park Jin, Ph.D., former Member of Korean National Assembly and Chairman of Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification; Executive President of Asia Future Institute; Woodrow Wilson Center Global Fellow; President, Asia Vision Forum; Distinguished Visitor for Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs; chair professor, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies graduate School of International and Area Studies. Dr. Gil Rozman, Ph.D., faculty, East Asia Studies Department, and Musgrave Professor of Sociology, Princeton University; Sr. Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute; Editor in Chief, The Asan Institute Forum; Korea Economic Institute of America facilitator for Academic Symposium at Association for Asian Studies Program; author of numerous works on Russia, China, Japan, Korea. Dr. Roxana Idu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Economics in the Economics, Business, and Accounting Department at Rockford University. Dr. Idu teaches International Economics, International Studies, and Economic Growth and Development. Her research focuses on international migration and economic development. Moderated by Donald Manzullo, US House of Representatives 1993-2013, Chairman of Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; President and CEO, Korea Economic Institute of America The Rockford University Global Affairs Council’s purpose is to foster a fundamental knowledge of world affairs for the people of Northern Illinois and the Wisconsin State Line communities by offering a space in which world matters can be discussed from multiple perspectives to improve and deepen their understanding of global matters. Event Contact: Sam Bandy, Director of Global Affairs, 815.226.4138 Hosted by the Rockford University Global Affairs Council Date/Time: Saturday, March 28, 2015, 2- 3:30PM Panel Presentation/Discussion: Free and Open to Public Location: Fisher Chapel, Rockford University 5050 East State Street, Rockford, Ill. Please RSVP at...

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Shark Tank Rockford Style: 2015 FastPitch Competition Announced

  It’s hard to believe that this year’s event will be the 9th annual FastPitch Competition! It will be held on Wednesday, June 17 at NIU-Rockford and is open to the public at 5:00 PM. Over the past eight years, we’ve had an average of 48 people compete annually; totaling nearly 400 presenters. Following are comments from our 2014 FastPitch Competition winners. Tracie Burress, our first place winner, said, “Competing in the EIGERlab’s FastPitch Competition has been truly invaluable to every aspect of my SockTABs business. When I first entered the EIGERlab, I only had an idea or concept in mind. After working closely with the engineers to perfect a prototype, we successfully competed in the FastPitch Competition against 34 would-be entrepreneurs. My husband and I took home top prize and won $5K that we used to launch our business. The amount of exposure that our business received because of this victory is immeasurable. Not a week goes by without someone mentioning the media coverage we received from our FastPitch Competition victory. “For any aspiring entrepreneur, I recommend you connect with the highly-skilled people at EIGERlab immediately. Get a jump start on key ideas for your product or service and you’ll be ready to knock them dead in June!” Stacy McCaskill, our second place winner explained, “FastPitch was the first opportunity to pitch my idea of the website, Fishwithme.net; helping everyday anglers find fishing buddies to share costs, learn net tips and techniques and promote more fishing. “Since FastPitch, I found a tech equity partner in Jason Todd; owner of Rockford’s premier web-tech firm, ThinkerProfit. Todd and I, along with our respective teams, have aggressively marketed the website in Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida. Fishwithme.net currently has more than 3,000 pre-registered users. Beta-testing begins in April and the site’s full launch is expected in May. “At the current rate of growth, Fishwithme.net is anticipating more than 5,000 users to be pre-registered for the site at launch, providing a committed and eager group of anglers ready to find their next fishing buddy so that they can save, learn, and fish more.” “We’re very pleased that both Tracie and Stacy’s businesses have grown exponentially since the 2014 FastPitch. EIGERlab is our region’s one-stop business incubator—able to assist entrepreneurs and inventors through the somewhat daunting steps of taking their service or products to market and also celebrate and communicate their successes,” said Sherry Pritz, EIGERlab’s marketing coordinator. This year’s Competitions will once again be a regional effort: Racine/Kenosha Counties’ FastPitch event is scheduled for August 19. Let’s play ball! Submitted by Sherry Pritz,...

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