Technology support will aid Project Lead the Way from new Monticello facility
Young people in eight area school districts will soon have a much firmer grasp on science, engineering and other technical fields, thanks to a computer lab supported by Alliant Energy. A grant of just over $21,000 from the regional utility will aid in equipping the lab Kirkwood Community College’s new Jones Regional Education Center.
The computer lab will be central to services at the center when it is scheduled to open in August 2009. A key function of the computer facility will be classes and activities of Project Lead the Way. The unique curriculum of classroom learning and creative problem-solving projects has built a growing base of implementation and support throughout Iowa and the nation.
Kirkwood Vice President of Resource Development Kathy Hall saluted Alliant Energy’s support of the center and science awareness curriculum as “crucial to this region” and to the area economy.
“We are delighted to receive this grant as the latest in a long and supportive history with Kirkwood. We salute the Alliant Energy Foundation especially for their foresight in recognizing the value of science and technology education. The evidence is clear and compelling that we must address a shortage of these skills and talents in the next generation of our citizens. That is true for Iowa, our region and the entire nation. This kind of encouragement is key to taking the Jones Regional Education Center and our overall efforts to the next level,” Hall stated.
“The Alliant Energy Foundation is proud to support Project Lead the Way. We are pleased to be involved with a program that enhances technical education opportunities and encourages students to pursue careers in technical fields,” said Tom Aller, President – Interstate Power and Light Company, an Alliant Energy company. “These important efforts not only help broaden opportunities for students; they also benefit the many companies in our communities who employ an engineering and technical workforce.”
Jones Regional Center Director Kristy Black said the Alliant grant was “another crucial building block” for the center and services to area schools.
“We are grateful for this grant, which is in harmony with the magnificent spirit of cooperation it took to make this new center a reality. To bring these eight school districts from five different counties together in a single effort has been a marvelous undertaking. This is a classic example of our college identifying community needs and finding the common ground to do the most good for our young people and the wider community,” Black said.
Another vital function of the Jones Regional Education Center will be a headquarters for Career Edge Academy programs in the area. In addition to Project Lead the Way, the center will host Kirkwood career programs in Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive Technology, LAN Computer Networking, GPS/GIS Technology, Graphics & Media Communication, Health Careers and Welding.
Kirkwood Executive Director of Secondary Programs Dave Bunting said Project Lead the Way programs involved more than 600 area students in Iowa in the past year.
“We expect that to greatly increase as we welcome eight additional districts to the program in 2008-2009. This support will benefit hundreds of students every day,” Bunting said.
The Jones Regional center building plans were announced at ceremonies in Monticello in December 2008. The 30,000 square foot center will host cooperative programs from school districts in five counties, plus credit classes and continuing education programs through Kirkwood. The new center was made possible with a donation of eight acres of property from the Welter family, plus strong support from Jones County and Monticello city officials.