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IVCC staff member assists another college with Science Foundation grant

Illinois Valley Community College electronics instructor Jim Gibson (left) shares a laugh with Williston State’s Alex Kovalev (middle) and Ken Quamme during a recent visit to the North Dakota campus. Gibson helped Williston earn a $225,000 National Science Foundation grant.
Illinois Valley Community College electronics instructor Jim Gibson (left) shares a laugh with Williston State’s Alex Kovalev (middle) and Ken Quamme during a recent visit to the North Dakota campus. Gibson helped Williston earn a $225,000 National Science Foundation grant.

A North Dakota college that received mentoring assistance from Illinois Valley Community College has been awarded a $225,000 National Science Foundation grant.

Jim Gibson, program coordinator of electronics at IVCC, has worked with staff at Williston State College in Williston, N.D., for more than a year to develop a proposal for the award.

The grant will enable Williston State to diversify its petroleum, automation and information technology programs to produce more qualified technicians to meet growing industry needs.

Gibson, who was at Williston as recently as last month, demonstrated how the same Amatrol equipment used at IVCC and in the industry can be used at Williston. Amatrol designs, develops and manufactures technical learning systems and other training equipment used in education and industry.

“It is always good to have another set of eyes to see how someone else is implementing the same tools,” said Gibson, who is an expert on Amatrol equipment and has industry experience in automation, controls and instrumentation.

During the three-year grant period, Gibson will continue to work with Williston staff including Ken Quamme, professor of information technology, and Alex Kovalev, petroleum technology instructor.

With Gibson’s guidance, Kovalev expanded his working knowledge of automation.

“Automation is an inevitable component wherever you go,” Kovalev said. “This grant will help us adjust our curriculum to industry’s current needs and provide a springboard for students that will open doors to fields across the board.”

Kovalev and Quamme have begun the mapping and blending process of the IT, petroleum and automation curricula.

“As instructors, we are excited for this grant and know students are too because they benefit the most,” Quamme said. “Alex is already brainstorming another grant, again in partnership with IVCC, so we can offer even more.”

Gibson added, “The only constant we have is change. Just as students need a solid educational foundation and must learn to be flexible, so to do institutions in recognizing and meeting changing industry needs.”

IVCC, which has received more than $1.3 million from three National Science Foundation grants, worked with Williston through the foundation’s Mentor-Connect Program. Gibson served as principal or co-principal investigator on IVCC’s three grants.

In developing the grant proposal, Williston also was assisted by IVCC’s former division chairwoman Lori Scroggs, who is an internal consultant with the University of Wisconsin, and Rose Marie Lynch, retired IVCC communications instructor.

The Williston team, Gibson and Lynch attended a Mentor-Connect workshop a year ago to prepare for the process.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency supporting research and education in science and engineering. Williston’s grant, like those awarded to IVCC, is funded through the foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program, which promotes improvement in education for technicians.

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