Waubonsee Water Ways: Building Pathways to Careers in the Water Sector

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This project aims to serve the national interest by addressing the current and emergent water and wastewater workforce needs nationally and in northern Illinois. A wave of retirements in the water sector is imminent. Existing and emerging positions will require new and updated fundamental skill sets as identified by the project?s foundational Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT). The project will prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for success as water and wastewater technicians. It will incorporate innovative experiential learning, extensive student support, and industry-based skills assessment to assist students in preparing for water and wastewater technician careers.

The goals of the project include the development and delivery of a certificate program for two cohorts, comprehensive recruitment, robust retention activities, and program assessment. Significant activities include a focus on recruiting and enrolling underrepresented students within the region. Recruitment activities include cooperation with local workforce development agencies to target adult populations, college recruitment events at local high schools, campus visits, and prospective student visits to local water and wastewater treatment facilities. To support retention, the project will have cohort-specific academic advisors and tutors with required student-tutor interactions. Outside evaluators will conduct regular assessments of the program. Using these methodologies, the community, the targeted student populations, and the water sector of Northern Illinois will be better poised to meet future water and wastewater demands.

Project PI: 
Sheela Vemu (Principal Investigator)
Host Organization: Waubonsee Community College
Other Collaborators: 
Nancy Christensen (Co-Principal Investigator)
Grant number: 2400347
Project Contact Info: 
Sugar Grove IL