Ivy Tech Kokomo earns three state CTE excellence awards

KOKOMO, Ind. – Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo has been honored with three Postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) Awards for Excellence from the Indiana Department of Education.

The awards were presented Feb. 18 in a public ceremony at the Indiana Government Center in Indianapolis as part of the state observance of National Career and Technical Education Month, a public awareness campaign designed to celebrate the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country. Blair Milo, Indiana’s secretary of Career Connections and Talent, and Gene Hack, president of the Indiana Association of Career and Technical Education Districts, congratulated the winners.

Among those receiving awards were:

  • Ivy Tech Kokomo’s Integrated Technology Education Program (ITEP), honored with the Award for Excellence for Outstanding Career and Technical Education Partnership.
  • Ivy Tech Kokomo’s Fredy Santamaria, a student from Logansport in the Cyber Security Program, honored with the Award for Excellence for Outstanding Career and Technical Education Student.
  • The Industrial Technology Welding Program in the Ivy Tech Kokomo Service Area, honored with the Award for Excellence for Outstanding Career and Technical Education Program.

“We are exceptionally proud of our Career and Technical Education efforts,” said Ivy Tech Kokomo Chancellor Dean McCurdy. “This recognition by the State of Indiana acknowledges the outstanding work under way here. We are engaging more students who are finding success in technical fields that offer stable careers and great futures – all part of Ivy Tech’s commitment to making our communities, and our state, stronger.”

Outstanding CTE Partnership

Ivy Tech staff
ITEP CTE Partnership Team

The partnership award recognized Ivy Tech’s ITEP program, a high school-to-career pathway program that utilizes work-based learning, nationally recognized certifications, and pathway-focused dual credit to create career opportunities for students and answer employer needs. The partnership includes Ivy Tech, high schools and career centers, and industry partners. The award was accepted by representatives of the three partner groups: Ivy Tech Kokomo, represented by Ethan Heicher, vice chancellor of Academic Affairs, Josh Speer, dean of the School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, & Applied Science, and ITEP program manager Jan Bailey; secondary education, represented by Derrick Dean, head teacher of Pre-Engineering/Industrial Technology at Hamilton Heights High School; and industry, represented by Jim Woolf, FCA Community and Education Outreach.

ITEP began in 2015 through a $3.2 million federal Youth Career Connect grant as an answer to area employer needs for skilled tradespersons in industrial technologies, including industrial electrical, industrial mechanical, welding/fabrication, and machine tool/precision machining pathways. In the five years since ITEP pathways were first mapped, Ivy Tech Kokomo has partnered with 15 secondary education partners for programming that has led to work-based learning activities with 53 employer partners. More than 800 students have been served through ITEP and more than 150 students have now completed work-based learning under the ITEP model. Because of its successful implementation, the program has been expanded so students can now use pathways developed in informational technology support, software development, automotive technology, building construction technology, and mechanical engineering technology.

Outstanding CTE Student

Ivy Tech students
PICTURED: Jovanny Perez, Lizette Garcia, Beth Chaney, Fredy Santamaria, Robyn Schmidt, Laura Lanning, Mary King

Fredy Santamaria accepted the student award, joined by mentor Beth Chaney, coordinator of Ivy Tech Kokomo’s accelerated associate degree program (ASAP) who helped make college a possibility for the young immigrant. His story here began in 2015, when he was 17 and tired of living in fear of the gangs that prevented him from attending school in his home country of El Salvador. He and two brothers, ages 16 and 14, left their home in El Salvador for a month-long trek to seek asylum in the United States. They joined extended family in Logansport, Ind., and Santamaria started high school again. He mastered the new language and, in 2018, earned a Core 40 diploma, including 20 college credits through dual credit – all while working fulltime. The cost made college seem unrealistic until he met Chaney, who assisted him in securing the needed resources.

Making the most of his opportunity, Santamaria went to school full-time and finished his first associate degree in 11 months, earning the 2019 Dean’s Award, even as he continued to work 12-hour overnight shifts at a local manufacturing plant. With a lifelong interest in computers, he began work last summer on a second associate degree, in cyber security. Santamaria has already passed the Core 1 and Core 2 Exams of the nationally recognized CompTIA A+ certification and is scheduled to complete his second degree in May. He is an active participant in Phi Theta Kappa national honor society and a contributor in his courses. His instructors and advisors, including Cyber Security department chair Robyn Schmidt who also joined him for the ceremony, describe him as kind, reliable, dedicated, a good team member, and very responsible, with an incredible work ethic and a bright future ahead.

Outstanding CTE Program

Ivy Tech staff
PICTURED: Josh Speer, George Gaskill and Emma Gunther

The Outstanding CTE Program award was presented to Ivy Tech Kokomo’s Industrial Technology Welding Program in recognition of the program’s growth over the last five years to meet industry needs for trained welders in the Kokomo Service Area. The award was accepted by Emma Gunther, welding instructor; George Gaskill, chair of Advanced Manufacturing/Industrial Technology and assistant professor of welding; and Josh Speer.

The program, a model for other schools in Indiana, has grown into one of the largest in the state to serve a region of the state that, with five large-scale automotive parts manufacturing plants and supplier manufacturers, has a critical need for skilled labor. Over the last five years, program enrollment has grown from about 50 students on campus each year to more than 120 students today. Additional students are enrolled in dual credit partnerships in area schools such as Maconaquah High School that allow students to earn Ivy Tech certificates along with their high school diplomas. The number of certified instructors has quadrupled from one to four.

Ivy Tech provides hands-on instruction for the most common welding processes and cutting methods used in industry, including Stick, MIG, TIG, and oxyfuel welding, as well as oxyfuel cutting and plasma cutting. The College also offers courses in pipe welding and welding fabrication. The Kokomo Service Area provides on-site certification testing services for students in three fully-equipped welding technology labs located on the Kokomo Campus and at the Logansport and Maconaquah sites.

SOURCE: News release from Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region