Today, women make up nearly half of America’s workforce, and counting – but for many years they’ve largely been concentrated in service jobs and traditional female occupations. Change is coming, however, as women move into jobs long dominated by men. Which suits these three women in Transportation programs at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges to a T.
Randie, Megan and Robin made very deliberate choices to pursue their education in Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology and Truck Driving respectively. And they have no problem ‘keeping up with the boys’. In fact, all three of them exude a confidence and a bit of well-earned swagger that comes with knowing their stuff. Different in ages, backgrounds and lifestyles, they share a love of engines, speed and the power that comes from well-tuned vehicles of all shapes and sizes.
Asked why she chose the Automotive Technology program, Randie Lawson gives a quick, simple answer: “Cars are fun.” In her second year with the program at Scott Community College, Randie says it’s obvious her instructors love cars, too. “They are helpful and provide a lot of information, and I like the hands-on aspect,” she adds. Currently working at a local car dealership, Randie says the skills she’s learning match up well with her job. What she’s accomplishing in the program by actually working on vehicles with a myriad of maintenance and repair problems transfers straight to job competence.
Megan Loger, a first-year student in the SCC Diesel Technology program, agrees. “Getting hands-on experience is what set this program apart for me,” says Megan. She looked at a number of other options and saw SCC as the clear winner. “I talked with a lot of people about where I should go for training. Everybody said SCC was the best and I’ve been happy with my decision. The instructors are really experienced and the diesel lab is great.”
Megan’s husband is a truck driver and they’ve recently leased a 2018 Freightliner. “I hope to help us save on labor costs by being able to do my own maintenance and repair. Ultimately, my goal is to look into offering a roadside assistance business for truckers.” She’s looking forward to her first work co-op, which is integrated into the program curriculum. And like Randie, she’s not one bit intimidated about working in what has been a male-dominated field. “It feels good to outshine the boys,” she says with a smile. “They are shocked at what a ‘girl can do’, but I know my way around an engine and around the shop.”
For Robin Wells, soon to be a graduate of the SCC Truck Driving program, she also has a long-time connection to the field she’s about to enter. “My dad was a truck driver so I grew up around it,” she explains. “Getting behind the wheel now makes me feel powerful, and I know the program has helped prepare me to be a conscientious, capable driver,” she adds. She acknowledges the expertise and support of her instructors in the program and the hours of actual drive time as key to her optimistic outlook and validating her choice to enter the field. She feels totally ready to take her first job as a driver. “My son and daughters are so proud of my accomplishment and I feel good knowing I’ve shown them not only that I can do it, but that they can achieve their goals as well.”
100 percent of EICC Career and Technical programs provide hands-on, real-word training
When it comes to completing a college education, everyone wants assurance there will be a viable, interesting career as a return on this investment – and that they’ll be prepared for career success. Eastern Iowa Community Colleges Career and Technical programs are a combination of hands-on training, learning labs featuring the latest technology and strong employer-college partnerships which culminate in college degrees that put the ‘hire’ in higher education.
This means 100% of EICC Career and Technical programs provide hands-on, real-world training – much of it leading to for-credit experience, internships and opportunities to ‘earn’ while you learn. Not only does EICC work with area business and industry to design curriculum so it matches up with their workforce needs, many of those businesses also provide direct work experiences during a student’s path through a program. This connection gives students meaningful opportunities to apply what they’re learning and to build relationships with local employers.
“Real-world work experience is our number one tool,” explains Ken Hunter, Department Coordinator for Transportation and Diesel Technology at Scott Community College. “We take pride in our well-equipped learning labs that feature access to and experience with almost every tool a student may ultimately use in their profession, but it’s clear the most important tool – our secret weapon – is work experience,” he adds.
These experiences can take the form of clinical experiences with local health care providers that are embedded into the curriculum of EICC’s Nursing and Allied Health programs, on-the-job apprenticeship hours in area restaurants like those which are part of the Journeyman Chef option with the EICC Culinary Arts program, internships offered by local companies supporting the Associate’s Degree in Information Technology, or students in the Agribusiness Management and Farm Management programs working with Ag partner companies as part of their degree requirements.
“All CTE faculty do our best to prepare students to be ready for ever-changing technology and demands of area industry,” notes Hunter. “We’re committed to helping our students succeed.