A new semester will find a Metropolitan Community College student in an exciting new job while he finishes his studies — thanks to a first-of-its-kind partnership between MCC and engineering firm Burns & McDonnell.
Charley Viehland is the first student hired from the employment pipeline program that launched this fall on the MCC-Business & Technology campus.
Burns & McDonnell worked with MCC to develop the Design Innovation Lab, which serves as home base for supplemental instruction for a handful of high-performing students who plan to go into the computer-aided drafting/design (CADD) and engineering technology (ETEC) fields.
Viehland, who will earn his CADD certificate this spring and his associate degree this summer, says the lab program is ideal for students who are in the middle of their education. “You don’t necessarily have a lot of skills yet, but you see what you are going to be doing,” he says.
Burns & McDonnell employee-owners facilitate weekly sessions for the students on the Business & Technology campus.
Good problem-solving has been one of the takeaways for Viehland.
“The idea is to see how you solve problems, not whether you solve the problems,” Viehland says. “In all of the various classes that we take, we learn little snapshots of skills to see the big picture.”
The Design Innovation Lab program was made possible by gifts from Burns & McDonnell, an engineering, architecture, construction and consulting firm headquartered in Kansas City, and Gabriel Hernandez, a vice president with the firm and member of the MCC Foundation board of directors.
“Burns & McDonnell begins STEM outreach when students are in kindergarten,” Hernandez says. “We are extremely committed to inspiring and growing our future generation of STEM professionals. MCC is a fantastic partner that is filling the pipeline to those important STEM careers. We’re grateful to be working side-by-side with them and their talented students.”
Viehland will start his new job in design support in January. He says he will be able to work almost full time while finishing his classes at night or online.
Demand is great for engineering talent in Kansas City, home to some 75 architecture and engineering firms. MCC Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Beatty would like to encourage other companies to engage in growing the job candidate pool with innovative thinking like that of Burns & McDonnell.
“MCC is on the move and we are energized by collaboration with great partners,” Dr. Beatty says.
Dr. Jackie Gill, president of the MCC-Business & Technology campus, says that “providing opportunities for students to receive hands-on training from some of the best employers in our region is what community college is all about. We have to work together to ensure we are teaching students the skills they need to fill the positions our business community requires to move forward.”
MCC and Burns & McDonnell are now interviewing students to work in the lab for the spring sessions. There are six openings for the Spring 2018 semester.
Mike Cline, MCC’s program coordinator for ETEC and CADD, is pleased to see how well students like Viehland are performing.
“Three students successfully completed this fall,” Cline says. “The best part about it was watching the design they were doing. It was very open-ended. Students really used what we taught them in class and applied it to a real-world situation. They ended up going down the same track that the Burns & McDonnell folks did.”