Engineering our Future campaign nears $6 million goal for NIU-RVC Engineering Program

Higher education, business and community leaders gathered December 1 to celebrate reaching a $4.5 million milestone in fundraising for NIU Engineering at RVC.

Woodward was the lead donor with a $2 million gift from the Woodward Charitable Foundation, underscoring the company’s longstanding leadership in manufacturing and workforce development in the Rockford area.  Since then, the Engineering our Future campaign has raised another $2.5 million in gifts for renovating and equipping the Woodward Technology Center, instructional support for faculty and student scholarships.

Sagar Patel, president of Aircraft Turbine Systems, has chaired the Engineering our Future fundraising campaign and convened weekly planning meetings for the program for the last year.

“Woodward is proud to be a partner in this historic and exciting collaboration,” Patel said. “Engineers are vital for innovation and economic competitiveness in America. An engineering program, right here in Rockford, enables creation of world class products and advanced manufacturing.  This engineering program is essential and will ensure a bright future for our community.”

The community-based, industry-integrated engineering program launched this fall, with more than 100 students in the first, second or third years of the program. Students earn an associate’s degree in engineering science from Rock Valley College, then take courses from Northern Illinois University faculty to earn an NIU bachelor’s degree.  All courses are delivered on the RVC campus and students participate in internships and experiential learning opportunities in companies around the region.

With this program, a student can obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering for under $40,000 without having to leave Rockford or the RVC campus to do it.

Northern Illinois University President Dr. Doug Baker and Rock Valley College President Dr. Doug Jensen lauded industry and community representatives for their leadership in making this transformational, collaborative program a reality.

“Developing a unique program of this magnitude could never happen without all of our key stakeholders having a shared vision and believing in that vision,” said Dr. Jensen. “Industry leaders, donors, and our community have stepped up and have shown us this is something our region wants, needs, and believes in.”

“I am convinced that these types of partnerships represent the future of higher education,” said NIU president Doug Baker.  “Thanks to the support of our industry and community partners, NIU and RVC are able to offer an important new educational opportunity for Rockford area students while providing a collaborative workforce development solution.   It’s a winner all around.”

Robert Stenstrom, Chairman and CEO, Stenstrom Companies and President of the Rock Valley College Foundation Board, thanked the many donors present and encouraged campaign co-chairs to continue their good work. The Stenstrom Foundation has also made a significant leadership contribution to the Engineering our Future campaign.

“Our family believes the way to build, improve and elevate our community is through education.  We are delighted to be part of this campaign and to provide support for this innovative educational initiative,” Stenstrom said. “We are grateful for what RVC does for the community and have been proud to contribute to the College for more than 16 years.”

Spring 2017 registration is underway for RVC and NIU classes.

Media Contact: Dave Costello, 815-921-4516

For further information about the NIU-RVC Engineering Program, contact David Schneider, RVC at (815) 921-4278 or Lauren Lundberg, NIU, at (815) 753-8760.