All posts by Marketing and Public Relations

Collision Repair Q & A

The Collision Repair program at Parkland College received a lot of attention when they moved into the beautiful, state-of-the-art Parkhill Applied Technology Center facilities, but I hadn’t been back into that space much in the last two years.

I visited with instructor Chris Stephens about the programs being offered there, and was intrigued to learn more about the discipline and opportunities.

Collision Repair instructors Dan Swann, left, and Chris Stephens, right

Q: What classes make up the Collision Repair curriculum?

A: Students enrolling can expect to take career-specific classes in the first semester. Those include dent repair, estimating, and glass trim and hardware. Those are prerequisites to other classes like automotive refinishing, structural repair, custom refinishing (using the airbrush), and custom upholstery. Students also take core classes in math, English, and speech.

Q: What is the job outlook like for Collision Repair students?

A: The students who want to work can almost guarantee themselves a job. Shops and insurance companies call us all the time for our best students. When bad weather hits, shops need help due to fender-benders and other damage as a result of the weather, and insurance companies need estimators. Most students don’t realize they might start as an estimator making $30-45,000 with the possibility to grow to $80,000. In a collision repair shop, they may start out at $10 per hour prepping parts, but as their skill level increases, they can make well over $20 per hour.

Q: What kind of student does well in Collision Repair?

A: People who do the best are those who know how to use tools or have the drive to finish something they start. They have a good work ethic and good eye-hand coordination. We often see people who are stuck in a “filler job,” working at something they don’t want to do long term. Collision repair is a great career choice, and many take classes while they work part or even full time to pay the bills.

Q: Talk about the Collision Repair facilities.

A: We have a state-of-the-art space in the Parkhill Applied Technology Center here at Parkland. We train students for the workplace setting, so we have top-notch paint booths and frame machines. Our measuring systems use computer-guided technology, one with an articulating arm and the other with lasers for precise measurements. We purchased the same type of equipment used in local shops so when students are employed they will already be familiar with these types of systems. Our bumper repair includes a nitrogen plastic welder, which is newer technology that insurance companies are requiring of shops to stay up to date.

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A vehicle awaits its paint job.

Q: What is the most popular aspect of the program among students?

A: Students are always anxious to start refinishing in the paint booth. That’s a fun part of the curriculum for many.

Q: How does someone get started in Collision Repair?

A: We have a new program starting in the spring semester, so students don’t have to wait to get started on a new career path. Visit our website and contact our program manager, David Anderson at

Emissions insights from Parkland’s automotive program

With car manufacturers and emissions taking the headlines this past week, I asked Parkland Automotive Program Director Jon Ross a few questions related to emissions.

Q: How are emissions created in cars?

A: Emissions are the by-products of combustion from the internal combustion engine, which usually operate on carbon based fuels like gasoline and diesel. Emissions are also created by gasoline evaporation.

Q: Where/how are emissions tested?

A: In central Illinois we do not have government required emission testing, however, if the “Service Engine Soon” light is on in your car or truck, your emission control systems “thinks” it is producing more emission than are allowed by law for the model year of your vehicle.  Since 1996 light duty cars and trucks have been required to report/record the operating status of emission monitoring systems–things like your catalytic converter or oxygen sensors. If these monitors detect an error, the service light will be turned on. These errors are based on numerical values in computer code–basically a bunch of “if ___then ___” sequences.

Q: So what are the car companies in question alleged to have done to the cars in more technical terms?

A: Vehicles are allowed to produce a certain amount of emissions based on federal law. Then the vehicle computer system must monitor the emission control system for the life of the vehicle. The asuumption is – if the vehicle monitoring systems are ok – then the vehicle must still be in compliance with the legal amount of emissions allowed.  When and how these monitors run is all based on computer code. From the reports I’ve seen, it appears that the details on when (run time, engine tempreature, rpm etc. )  the emissions monitors should run is in question.


Q: Do Parkland students learn about emissions systems?

We study the required emission components of gasoline engines. These emission systems impact how a vehicle performs. Poor performance could be related to an emission system malfunction.  Emission components or control systems basically fall into three groups – evaporative emissions (stored fuel evaporation), fuel adaptation (changes to fuel delivery while running), and catalytic converters (after combustion treatment). There are many specific emission componets, but they will always have something to do with the emmissions created by either storing fuel or burning it.

Q: To what diagnostics systems and facilities do Parkland automotive students have access?

A: The automotive lab in our Parkhill Applied Technology Center contains 28,000 square feet of workspace designed to reflect the workflow of a modern dealership. In addition to work benches, tools and equipment from the industry’s to vendors, we have 15 lift work stations  (three fitted with Hunter’s HawkEye® alignment systems); flat work stations with room for 10 additional cars; Chassis and Engine Dynos for engine testing and tuning training–the only educational dynos in a 100-mile radius of Champaign–Mustang DM110SE Chassis Dynamometer & Stuska Track Master Water Brake Dynamometer.

Q: The Parkland Motorsports program is quite unique for automotive training. What is it?

A:The Parkland Motorsports program was started to enhance learning, develop additional skills, and provide networking opportunities for students in the Parkland College automotive program. The program offers a unique oppurtunity for students to learn beyond the classroom and take pride in their program and school. Right now, for example, students are preparing for the Champaign County Sports Car Club autocross race on Sunday in Rantoul. Several student drivers will be competing with Parkland’s Civic and Mustang.



Big changes for Parkland Office 365 & faculty/staff email!

We are so excited to launch Microsoft Office 365 on campus, and bring several big advantages to students, faculty, and staff. With this transition comes a bit of housekeeping, so we ask for your cooperation, patience, and an opportunity for dialog regarding any issues you may experience.

For Students:

As of July 23rd, students will need to enroll and use the new online ParklandOne Password Station to set up a new ParklandOne password for Office 365 access (this will also change your password for My.Parkland and email, so you’ll only have to keep track of one password). The process will require entering your current My.Parkland username and password and providing your mobile number (to be used only in the event that you need to recover a forgotten password). When enrolling in the new ParklandOne Password Station, you need to have your mobile phone with you to complete the enrollment and password change process. You will not be able to access your Office 365 account until you have enrolled in Password Station.

Important: Students who have already registered and downloaded Office 365 applications must enroll and change their ParklandOne passwords. Failing to reset your ParklandOne password will prohibit access to Office 365.

ParklandOne Password Station

Here’s how to get to Password Station:

Detailed instructions can be found here in the KnowledgeBase article, “ParklandOne Password Station – Getting Started” –

Office 365

Your Office 365 email and apps can be found here:

Detailed instructions can be found here, in the KnowledgeBase article, “Office 365 for Students – What Applications are Included?” –


Contact the Parkland Tech Service Desk ( with questions at or call 217.353.3333. Summer hours are Monday – Thursday, 7:30 am – 6:00 pm


For Parkland Faculty/Staff:

Parkland Faculty/Staff email will change from GroupWise to Office 365 over the weekend. For these individuals in advance of Monday:

  1. You should have a desktop icon on your office computer which will allow you to easily access the Outlook client.
  2. Just to clarify, use your username and password that you typically use to log in to the network on your office computer. If unsure of your password, go to ParklandOne Password Station to reset –
  3. All of your email, calendar items (up to two years into the future) and contacts have been, or are in the process of being, migrated. If you do not see all of your information when you first log into Outlook Monday morning, it is likely due to the fact that data is still in the process of being transferred. Please be patient and check again at the end of the day to determine if anything is missing. If you determine that something is missing, contact the Tech Service Desk at that time so that they can follow up and determine the cause.
  4. To access the new Outlook email online, go to
  5. There are “open lab” sessions scheduled for the following times to provide walk-in assistance and answer questions:
    • Monday, July 27 – 8:00 am – 12:00 pm – D107
    • Monday, July 27 – 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm – D107
    • Tuesday, July 28 – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm – D107
  6. The GroupWise system is still available for viewing via the web access interface ( You may log in using your previous username and password and view any mail, archives, calendar, and contacts, in order to verify that your data is complete in the new system. You may not receive or send mail from GroupWise going forward.
  7. There are a variety of KnowledgeBase articles available to assist you with questions at, also available from the front page of the portal. Here are a few specific articles that you may find helpful:
  8. Instructions for Outlook set-up on mobile devices will be available in the KnowledgeBase by Monday.

For assistance the Tech Service Desk hours are 7:30 am – 6:00 pm, Monday – Thursday, and they are located in A184. Contact them via phone at 217.353.3333 or email at




Hot Rod Power Tour comes to Parkland

If copies of Hot Rod Magazine covered your nightstand or garage work bench at any point in your life, you know that Sunday is a BIG DEAL on campus. Parkland will host Stop #2 of the 2015 Hot Rod Power Tour June 7, and local spectators are invited to see what it’s all about at absolutely no charge.

The world’s largest hot rod enthusiast event, the Hot Rod Power Tour embodies everything represented in the pages of Hot Rod Magazine. In layman’s terms, every single parking space on campus will be taken up by automobiles modified for performance and/or appearance from across the United States and beyond.

Parkland College is ready to host the event, which also stopped in Champaign in 2012, that time at the State Farm Center. At the time of the 2012 event, construction was wrapping up on what is now the Parkhill Applied Technology Center.


With such a noteworthy event on campus, no one is more excited than Parkland’s automotive program director, Jon Ross. I asked Jon a few questions about Parkland’s participation in the Power Tour.

Q: You advocated for Parkland to host this event. Why? 

A: Hosting the event just made sense. Our automotive program has a great reputation, not only because of our skilled faculty and staff, but also because of local businesses that support our programs and hire our graduates. We also offer the state’s only Motorsport Training program, including a 1980 Chevrolet Malibu, 1990 Honda Civic, and 1994 Ford Mustang Cobra clone our students use to prepare for drag and autocross.

Q: Hands-on experience for students carries through your programming as well as this event. How will students be involved in this Hot Rod Power Tour stop?

A: This will be a memorable event for our students. We have put together a collection of really nice vehicles that have been built by our students. We have vehicles our current students are building, some instructor-built vehicles, and vehicles built by a range of alumni from Parkland. I think most people will be surprised by the type of vehicles, as well as the quality and detail our students choose when building a car.

Q: You are really looking forward to tour participants and local spectators coming out and seeing the Parkhill Applied Technology Center.

A: If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “Wow” when they walked into our lab, I would be rolling in money. It’s one of the largest, most well-equipped automotive training centers in Illinois. Students have access to the latest chassis and engine dynamometers, Snap-on tools, and faculty with expert experience in automotive technology, collision repair and refinishing, welding, machine tool operation, and diesel equipment technology. Faculty, staff, students and alumni will be on hand Sunday to answer questions about Parkland programming. Our building will be a great place for local enthusiasts to connect.

Q: Why is Parkland’s role with this year’s event so special for you on a personal level?

A: I have been a part of the Hot Rod Power tour almost every year since it started in 1995. I also grew up with Hot Rod Magazine. I dreamed about the cars that I saw being built. Truthfully, it was probably the only print material I read in high school. So, to be a host for the Hot Rod Power Tour is very satisfying. I will also be sharing the event this year with my son. He graduated from high school this spring and for his graduation present, he asked for funding to go on the complete tour. So, after we are done at Parkland Sunday, he and I and a few other friends are headed south for the rest of the tour.

 More information on the Parkland Hot Rod Power Tour stop:
  • Gates open at noon.
  • Spectator admission is free.
  • Spectator parking is available at the Country Fair Shopping Center near Taffie’s Restaurant.
  • FREE SHUTTLES will transport participants from the spectator parking lot to the Parkland campus and back between noon and 6pm.
  • Individuals interested in joining the tour must register with the Hot Rod Power Tour at our Parkland on Mattis location, 1315 N. Mattis Avenue.
 We’ll see you there!


It’s Plant Sale Week at Parkland

The end of the spring semester brings chaos for many, but it also brings the classroom to the community in many ways. Last weekend’s Motorsports Car Show, the Hospitality department’s Cinco de Mayo lunch, and this week’s Greenhouse Plant Sale showcase how our students engage with the community, and show the community the type of work our students have been doing.


I stopped at the Greenhouse to buy a few things, and had a nice conversation with one of the students working there. Joseph Jessee is excited to be transferring to the University of Illinois soon to continue his studies in crop science.  He had high praise for our instructor, Theresa Meers, who coordinates the popular annual Greenhouse Plant Sale.  I asked Theresa a few questions to find out more about the sale.

Q: What is the difference between the Parkland Plant Sale and a local nursery selling plants?

A: The students have been involved in the planning, seeding, growing, and now the sale of the plants, so it’s been a learning experience from the beginning. We have a very small selection of plants compared to the local nurseries, so we are not competing with them. Some of the plants we tried did not even make it to the point of being able to sell, which is a learning experience in itself.

The funds go into the Ag Club account to help pay for student activities throughout the year, and for student competitions.

Q: What role do students play in the plant sale?

A: Students have been involved from the planning phase, specifically through [the courses] HRT 270, AGB191, and AGB 291. Selling the plants is the reward of all their hard work. They will act as salespeople and answer customer questions. 

Q: What kinds of plants are available for sale?

A: Because the students choose which plants to grow, each year is different. This year we have lots of hanging baskets and annuals, plus some veggies and tropical plants. There is a limited selection of perennials this year.

Q: What are your most popular plants?

A: Garden vegetables are in high demand this year. With the cooler than usual weather this spring, many people haven’t planted their gardens yet and are looking for veggies. But last year it was a warm spring and we had trouble selling all our veggies. So that varies from year to year, too.

Q: What new initiatives are you planning for this growing season?

A: We are hoping to get a planting in the land lab to supplement the sweet corn that has already been planted on campus. In the red  barn (near S building), we are working towards a produce stand for items grown in the land lab.

Fast, Furious & Fantastic

The Fast & Furious movie franchise may have the world cruising to movie theaters, but locally, car buffs journey to Parkland College  this time every year for the Parkland Motorsports Car Show.

The car show, now in its 16th year, has grown not only in participation, but also in scope, thanks to the hard work and passion of our MotorSports faculty and students.  Previously a one-day event, the car show expanded to two days in 2014 and in 2015 encompasses three days:

Saturday, May 2nd — CAR SHOW

  • People interested in showing their cars may register at the show for $15 (10:30 am–noon). The show and judging takes place from noon–3 pm and is free for the general public to come out to campus and look at the cars as well as the Parkhill Applied Technology Center facility.
  • Autocross is run by the Champaign County Sports Car Club and provides fun spectating for visitors. Watching the cars zip through the traffic-cone course is a highlight for my kids.
  • Swap Meet — W2 parking lot
  • RC Car Fest Demonstration — Another fun event for kids of all ages.

Sunday, May 3rd — More autocross in the parking lots and dynomometer demonstrations in the Parkhill Applied Technology Center.

Monday, May 4th, NEW! Automotive Career Showcase with Hot Rod Magazine — This event is brand new and intended to give students and others a forum to connect with our local automotive industry partners. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the skills employers need and see Parkland’s facilities.  In addition to employers, Troy Gudgel will be sharing custom car fabrication techniques and Hall Brothers Racing will have a monster truck on display.

PLUS! Jeff Dahlin, publisher of Hot Rod Magazine, will be on hand to make an announcement about the popular Hot Rod Power Tour.

With this huge weekend of events, I asked Automotive Program Director Jon Ross a few questions:

Q: What do you hope the Car Show weekend shows the community?

A: I hope people come to campus and notice a few things:

  • The diversity of the careers available in the automotive industry
  • Learning opportunities that go beyond the classroom.
  • The training options Parkland College offers for these careers (Dual credit/ECCA for high school students, one-class completions, certificates, degree programs, transfer articulation for SIUC Automotive program)
  • The facility used for training
  • The equipment that students are trained to use
  • The funding needed to support student activities that go beyond the classroom
  • The development of the non-technical skills needed by employers in the automotive industry.

Q: What is the biggest surprise for first-time visitors when they attend the Car Show?

A:  I think most people are surprised by the number of participants in our event and the diversity of cars. Our event is the largest in the area. It is also generally the first of season. I am amazed each year that we have community members who have never been on campus to see our facility and programs. It is not uncommon to have very unique and rare vehicles displayed at our show right next to cars that are driven daily.

Q: Are Parkland students involved with the Car Show?

A: Students play an active role in preparing for the show. They are eager to serve our guests and to show off our program, facility, and the projects they have worked on. Students help recruit partners for the show, collect door prizes, and staff the event. Words cannot describe the amount students learn when they’re put in active roles. When all the work is done, they get to play… er, drive the cars they have worked so hard to prepare for our racing program.

Q: There is a lot going on outside. What will be happening inside the Parkhill Applied Technology Center?

A: The automotive lab will serve as registration headquarters. The building will be open and people can look around to see all of the cool things we get to work with every day. On Sunday, it will also be open and we’ll focus on demonstrating our engine and chassis dynamometers.

Q: Monday’s Automotive Career Showcase is new. What is your goal with that event?

A: Parkland has hosted career and job fairs many times, but this is the first time we are hosting a career fair specific to the careers and businesses in the automotive industry. We are excited about the companies that will be present and the connections that we can facilitate for the students and community. The industry is much bigger than most people realize.


Student Union Ribbon Cutting 2014: Live Updates!

Thanks so much for joining us for today’s celebration of the new Student Union!


FREE! Chair massages, photos with friends, food at Student Union! 4:50 p.m.



Beautiful group shot taken of entire crowd before refreshments and open house exploration begin, 4:35


Cutting the ribbon!



Dr. Thomas Ramage, Parkland College president
Dr. Thomas Ramage, Parkland College president

Dr. Ramage announces $2.1 million Title III grant awarded recently to Parkland College, 4:30 p.m.: “We’re very pleased to have won this competitive grant from the Board of Education.”


Parkland Student Government President, Abby Vanderkloot from Monticello, addresses visitors next: “Say goodbye to the cold pizza and hello to the stone ovens that bring out fresh hot pizza all week long. With all of this new space comes new opportunities for student success.”

Abby Vanderkloot of Monticello, Student Government President
Abby Vanderkloot of Monticello, Student Government President


Vice President for Student Services Linda Moore speaks to Student Union’s design flexibility and sustainability, 4:25 p.m.: “Look carefully today and you will see a lounge that converts to book buy-back space for the bookstore, and a conference room that converts to a stage.”

Dr. Linda Moore, Vice President for Student Services
Dr. Linda Moore, Vice President for Student Services


Senator Chapin Rose comments at 4:20 p.m.:  “What a wonderful, wonderful facility…and if you’re standing around looking up instead of at who’s speaking it’s because of this beautiful facility. We appreciate what Parkland has done for our entire region. Congratulations, Parkland.”


Board of Trustee Chair Tom Bennett gives official welcome, 4:11 p.m.: “We have stood firmly behind the concept of giving our students quality ‘elbow room’ as they learn within our walls.”


Parkland President Tom Ramage leads off the festivities, 4 p.m.: “Our Student Union shines as an example of what is best about Parkland College and its mission.”


It’s 3:59 and the Student Union lobby is abuzz with anticipation!


Stop by campus at 4 p.m. today for the big event! Check out this gorgeous new space,  take in some food, and get to know how Student Services units help students at Parkland.