Happy 60th birthday, Ivy Tech!

Since 1963, Ivy Tech Community College has been striving to meet a mission of community building throughout Indiana. As the College marks this six-decade milestone, its Kokomo Service Area is stepping up with a number of initiatives, programs, and partnerships to help fulfill that challenging and important mandate.

For Dr. Ethan Heicher, chancellor of the Ivy Tech region that includes Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, Pulaski, and Tipton counties, “building community” is indeed the goal as the College works with its many partners.

“We have K-12 partners, partners in community non-profit organizations, industries and trade unions, the four-year institutions where half of our graduates continue their educations, and, of course, our most important partners – our students,” Heicher said. “Together, we have the opportunity to build better communities with strong educational choices, great career options, expanded cultural offerings – and so much more.”

Here’s a look at some of the many initiatives currently under way.

Together, we have the opportunity to build better communities with strong educational choices, great career options, expanded cultural offerings – and so much more.

– Ethan Heicher, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Kokomo

Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration

The development of the $2.2 billion StarPlus Energy gigafactory is putting Kokomo at the forefront of the new world of automotive clean energy. Ivy Tech is serving as its major training partner to ready people for what has been described as an entirely new way of manufacturing.

“Our new Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration (SMDI) program is being developed to prepare people for the ‘Industry 4.0’ jobs that will be here within the next two years,” Heicher said. “Kokomo has been a hub of auto components manufacturing for decades but this new plant will offer an automated, clean environment unlike anything we’ve seen before.”

Ivy Tech administrators and faculty members have traveled to South Korea to understand this automated, robotics controlled, digitally integrated environment, and the training facilities needed to prepare for these highly technical positions are under development. Supported by more than $1.2 million in funding from the City of Kokomo and Howard County and $500,000 through the U.S. Economic Development Administration, as well as a $1 million grant through the state’s READI program, infrastructure work on Ivy Tech’s Industry 4.0 lab on the Kokomo Campus is almost complete and equipment installation should be finished over the next six months to a year.

The lab will pave the way for SMDI education for adult learners who want to get to a good-paying job with a great future as well as support Ivy Tech Kokomo’s innovative ITEP program (Integrated Training and Educational Pathways) bringing SMDI and Industry 4.0 to high school students. Two such programs are the advanced manufacturing partnerships with Lewis Cass Polytechnic Academy and the Kokomo Area Career Center.


Automotive Technology Education Pathway

A new employer-school partnership this year, the Automotive Technology Education Pathway (ATEP), is bringing together students from Tipton and Hamilton counties to Chariot Automotive Group’s Academy dealership in Tipton to prepare for careers in the field of automotive technician service.

About 30 students are involved in the first year of the program, which offers industry-recognized certifications along with college credits toward an associate degree in Automotive Technology. Students in the program have an opportunity to work in the dealership and qualify for its apprenticeship program on their way to a full-time automotive technician position at one of CAG’s four dealerships.


Expanding high school partnerships

A number of other partnerships are under way, and more are on the drawing board.

When the Lewis Cass Polytechnic academy (LCPA) opened in 2018, its first programs were aimed at advanced manufacturing and engineering training in a dual credit setting through Ivy Tech. As that has continued and expanded, new programs have been established, with LCPA and Ivy Tech now offering pathways in early childhood education and certified nursing assistant (CNA) instruction to prepare students to move into these much-needed careers.

A cyber security partnership with the Kokomo Area Career Center is in its second year. First-year students complete IT courses at the high school before moving in the second year to courses taught in Ivy Tech Kokomo’s new high-tech IT lab. This Career Center and Ivy Tech partnership prepares student to enter one of the fastest growing career fields in Indiana. 

These pathway partnerships offer dual credit courses, where students earn both high school and college credit in classes taught by accredited high school teachers, as well as dual enrollment courses, where high school students attend classes taught by Ivy Tech faculty. Through these programs, high school students get a jumpstart on their higher educations as well as their careers. Over two hundred high school students earned a college credential last year, and Ivy Tech’s cost-free dual credit saved service area families more than $2.7 million in college tuition and fees.  


Healthcare Professions

Heicher noted another area of “community building” comes in partnerships and programs to expand opportunities for students to prepare for the many vacant jobs in the healthcare industry.

Two of the state’s major healthcare providers – Indiana University Health and Community Health Network – have partnered with Ivy Tech statewide with grant money to expand education to meet a serious shortage of nurses. The funding has allowed Ivy Tech to add faculty, increase the number of students enrolled and bring in new technology.  Capacity was added to both the Kokomo campus and Logansport campus cohorts.  Logansport campus’s part-time nursing program is now a full-time program that operates during the day, doubling the number of available nursing student seats and graduating those students in half the time. 

Innovative thinking has been applied to meet another critical need – the shortage of emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Hiring an additional full-time faculty member has allowed Ivy Tech Kokomo to grow the program from 20 seats to 60 seats per year. The new “rotating scheduling” takes into account the 24-hour shifts most emergency responders work, offering an increased number of lecture and lab sessions for working students to attend.


Building communities, building the future

People tend to think of their education as these little compartments, semesters of work, classes, individual assignments,” Heicher said. “One of our campus’s biggest jobs is to redefine education as a process that doesn’t even start with us. It starts with our K-12 partners and the work we do with them through dual credit and dual enrollment and our college and career connection coaches at Ivy Tech and in local schools. And it extends far beyond us to the work we do with community organizations, university partners, and employer partners.”

Today, in the Kokomo Service Area, about half of Ivy Tech’s graduating students take their associate degrees directly into the workforce and the other half apply their credits toward bachelor degrees at four-year institutions.

“Whether a person is looking for a quick technical credential to advance in a job or an affordable and well-supported beginning to a bachelor degree, Ivy Tech has a wide variety of options,” Heicher said, noting the Kokomo Service Area offers 37 programs of study ranging from advanced manufacturing to visual communication.

With most courses taught in an eight-week format, Ivy Tech offers five start dates a year; students can enroll in sessions beginning in August, October, January, March, and June. Registration is currently underway for the next class session, which begins Oct. 23. For information, contact the Express Enrollment Center at 765-459-0561 or Kokomo-enrollment@ivytech.edu.


About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.