Kaskaskia College Holds Fourth Annual Pre-Engineering Banquet

Kaskaskia College held its fourth annual Pre-engineering Banquet on Tuesday, April 15 to honor the success of the program and this year’s six graduating sophomores.


The banquet host was Professor Eric Hofelich, Coordinator of the Pre-engineering program and Professor of Mathematics at the College.  Guests included the graduating students and their families, a contingent of personnel from the SIUE School of Engineering, former KC graduate Andrew Robinson, KC Pre-engineering faculty, members of the KC Board of Trustees, and the College President, Vice-presidents, and Deans.


Professor Hofelich said that the Pre-Engineering program is going strong at KC, with six graduating sophomores this spring and twenty more enrolled in the program and expected to finish in 2015.


Dr. Jim Underwood, President of KC, thanked the graduates in choosing Kaskaskia College to begin their academic careers, and praised the faculty for the accomplishments in making Pre-Engineering a great program over the course of six years.  “It takes time for a program to become known,” Dr. Underwood said.  “Successes cause more students to migrate toward great programs, as is evident by the twenty new students currently enrolled.”


Other speakers for the evening included Dr. Hasan Sevim, Dean of the School of Engineering at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.  Dr. Sevim said that KC graduates that come to SIUE are especially well prepared for the rigors of the university programs, and noted that the 2+2 articulation agreement between the SIUE School of Engineering and Kaskaskia College was the first of its kind for the university, and has been so successful that other university programs are copying it.  KC also has articulation agreements with SIU Carbondale, the University of Illinois, and the University of Missouri at Rolla.


Kyle Mueller, a graduating sophomore and the President of the Kaskaskia Engineering Association, spoke of some of the trips the engineering students have taken, including tours of the SIUC and SIUE campuses, the Wood River refinery, and Nascote. “I would like to thank KC for the opportunity it gave us to start a quality education. I can’t say enough about how supportive the teachers are.”


The keynote speaker for the evening was Andrew Robinson, a Pre-Engineering graduate at KC who is now employed as a Design Control Engineer at Caterpillar, Inc.  Robinson addressed the graduating class and those who have supported them, their families, their teachers, and the administration at Kaskaskia College.  “This is a milestone,” Robinson said.  “Cherish it, and use your success here to continue to drive forward.  It is fitting that we are in the Lifelong Learning building, because you will never stop learning.”


He urged the graduates to view their courses as building blocks and the power they will use to succeed in their careers.  He also advised them to overcome any hurdles they may encounter in school, giving an example of how doing poorly in a class and taking it over again reinforced the lessons he was able to use when a situation came up in his employment.  “If I hadn’t taken that class over, I may not have learned the subject as deeply as I have, and would not have been prepared for the opportunity when it came my way.”


Robinson gave a presentation on the subject of “Branding.”  After showing the logos of some companies known as leaders in their industries, and other who have had trouble, he said, “We hold certain expectations for brands, and not just companies.  People are branded too, by their actions and work.  Each of you will be branded, and only you can define what your brand will be,  Strengthen your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.  You fail, not by making mistakes, but by not learning from them.  Kaskaskia College is now part of your brand, and I urge you to embrace it.”


Professor Sandra Cox, longtime Mathematics instructor at KC, recently announced her plan to retire.  The banquet spontaneously became, in part, a tribute to her, with Andrew Robinson, a former student, and Kyle Mueller, a current student, both telling her how grateful they and her other students would always be for her patience and support when they studied high level math in her classes.  Dr. Underwood and Professor Hofelich praised Professor Cox for her professionalism and attitude of going the extra mile to ensure that her students would succeed.


Andrew Robinson perhaps put it best when he told Professor Cox, “I can’t imagine anyone better as a teacher.  You will leave some huge shoes to fill.”


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