February is National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month and Kishwaukee College is celebrating by spotlighting students who are enrolled in CTE Programs, like Paul Deutsch. Paul is an alumnus of the Kishwaukee College engineering program. He is currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Northern Illinois University and is an engineering intern at IDEAL in Sycamore.
Paul really wasn’t planning to be an engineer. He had the family farm running through his veins and had always thought he would take over running that farm when he was an adult. His grades at Sycamore High School were solid and his ACT composite was pretty average. Then he met Alan Edgecombe, Physics/Engineering instructor at Kishwaukee College.
Edgecombe visited SHS and talked about engineering. Paul was intrigued. “It really sounded interesting,” he said. “Creating new designs for things. But then I was kind of embarrassed by my ACT score. Everybody else there had 27 or 28.” Edgecombe noted, “The average ACT composite score for students at the University of Illinois in Urbana is about 29. Paul asked great questions, was bright. When he told me his ACT, I thought this score can’t possibly be from this same student I had been talking to.”
Edgecombe encouraged him to come to Kishwaukee and enroll in the Pathways Program, a program at only a handful of community colleges across the state that the University of Illinois has established to streamline the transfer of engineering students. Students complete their first two years of coursework at Kishwaukee and then transfer for the final two years of the program to the Urbana campus. It is a money saving program for students who want to be engineers. Paul signed up.
“Al became like my engineering father figure,” Paul said. “He was there to guide me and my peers and keep our heads in the game when the going got tough. He really was the main reason my drive and motivation to do well in classes stayed so vibrant.”
By October 2014, he was interviewing for an engineering internship at IDEAL. He has held the paid internship ever since. His duties focus on quality control and he does some design work with Solidworks and Computer Assisted Design (CAD) software and uses Excel. After he had been at IDEAL for a month, Edgecombe asked him how he liked it and Paul replied “It is like working at McDonalds…I’m lovin’ it!” Paul explained, “I am getting the on the job experience that companies want you to have as an engineer.” Edgecombe added, “A good internship is really like an extended job interview. Companies can see what kind of worker a student is, how well they fit into the company. Many times internships become jobs.”
Paul took five classes with Al Edgecombe during his time at Kishwaukee. “I always thought engineering was just for really smart people, but Al showed me I could learn it. I picked up my act and just said “Let’s do this!” and jumped in ready to work,” Paul stated. “Al pushed all of us to make us better and I will always be grateful to him for that.”
Paul graduated from Kishwaukee College with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He chose to stay local and attend NIU and will be graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in December 2017. Edgecombe added, “With Paul, I got to see a person grow up and I am so proud. You go into teaching to change lives and to see a student like Paul so happy…there is nothing like it.”
Click Here To Submit A News Tip Or Story