Category Archives: Business, Agriculture, Engineering Sciences & Technologies, and Computer Science & Information Technology

Racing Toward a Bright Future

Parkland graduate Kyle Bemount is going places, FAST! Bemount, who earned his associate’s degree in Industrial Technology in 2011, is making a name for himself, both in racing circles and through the efforts of his business, Bemount Performance. I recently caught up with him and we talked about his experiences at Parkland, including his role as a part-time instructor, in addition to his ventures outside of school.

 

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T: What did you study at Parkland?
K: I originally enrolled in the Industrial Technology program at Parkland in the fall of 2008, right after I got out of the Marine Corps. I wanted to do welding and fabricating and that sort of thing. I had some hands-on experience and liked it, so I wanted to further educate myself.

T:  Thank you for your service! Where did your degree in Industrial Technology lead you?
K: While I was earning that degree, I also worked pretty much full time at my stepdad’s shop, painting and fabricating. When I graduated, I used the tools I learned and kept heading in that direction. I had never really given motorsports a chance to reach out and grab me. Then, Parkland built the new facility, and I was here for a car show and thought maybe it was worth checking out. I scheduled a meeting with Jon (Ross, director of the automotive program) and he gave me all the information I needed. I liked what he had to say, so I decided to try for another degree in Automotive Motorsport technology.

T: Where did your interests outside of Parkland take you?
K: I finished the motorsport classes, and it was a year ago, almost to the day, that I made the decision to open my own business. I do have a passion for working on cars and making them go faster, and working on FRIENDS’ cars especially is what has led me to this! Last October, I moved to a shop in Champaign, at 4102 Colleen Drive off of Staley Road.

T: Did your Industrial Technology training come together with the auto training?
K: It all kind of pieced the puzzle together. You might have previous car experience or have a relationship with someone who taught you about cars, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I had it too; I was already into cars and I had a fast vehicle, but there were a lot of gaps. I would be in class with Jon going over wheels and tires or brakes and suspension or something, and I would think I knew it, but by the end of class, I’d be like, “I didn’t know ANYTHING about that!” Parkland’s instruction bridges a lot of gaps for people who haven’t been taught in a structured manner like a classroom environment. You aren’t going to get that know-how by working on one specific vehicle. Here, you’re taught that this is how they all work and the situation dictates which one you can use it on.

T: You get a good, broad understanding of why this works, and that can help you diagnose whatever rolls into your shop?
K: Exactly. You need to crawl before you can walk. A lot of times, I ran before I even walked! I went right into it and did it. I got lucky and made it work, but if someone asked me a generic question about it, I might know the answer. Now, I try to be more able to find you a basic answer.

T: Was your Marine Corps training related to mechanics at all?
K: In no way, shape or form! I was an infantry marine.

T: You were a ground pounder?
K: I did infantry and security work. I had an option to become a police officer when I got out, but I really didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do something I was really passionate about.

T: You’ve started Bemount Performance, and from that the race car came about?
K: I actually bought that car when I was still stationed in Okinawa. I had my mom go to Missouri and pick it up. I had it for months before I even saw it! I had it all through industrial tech school, all through my motorsport classes.

T: What car are we talking about here?
K: It’s a 2000 Trans Am with a WS6. It has undergone multiple surgeries to become what it is now! Every winter, it gets some new “go fast” parts. It’s a 4-way LS motor with a Garrett 5594 turbo. It’s a pretty quick car. It’s been as fast as 8.35 in the quarter mile, at 168 miles an hour.

T: Is it a pro stock drag car? What classification is it?
K: It drives on the road more than it is on the track, so it’s a street class.

T: What advice would you give someone interested in chasing the dream of opening their own business?
K: To be honest with you, it was totally terrifying. I went from having a 40-hour-a-week job that makes decent money and was very secure and we had a certain living standard, and we realized that it was all about to change. I had a good feeling about it and I had backing from a couple of friends, so I didn’t have that concern.

T: What do you think about a nontraditional student coming back to Parkland? What sort of advice would you give that person?
K: You can always come back to Parkland. I’ve wanted to come back and do the upholstery class. It’s not really a part of what I do, I consider myself a go-fast guy, but nevertheless it’s a part of the world that I know zero about and that bothers me. You’re never too good to come back and learn. Technology evolves. I’m always wanting to learn.

T: Where did you go to high school?
K: I went to Rantoul. I had a fantastic shop teacher named Bill Wiley. Mr. Wiley actually made me interested in automotive. He was hands down the best shop teacher ever. He was very straightforward, but not by the book at all. He helped me out a ton.

T: Do you to build race cars for other people?
K: I do turbo kits, exhaust work, plumbing work, brake kits, and brake lines. I do almost anything, even build motors. My business is almost 100 percent building race cars. When I was starting out, I was as nervous as I could be and I took in jobs that had nothing to do with performance, just because I had to pay bills. Now, I don’t take in a job that doesn’t at least spark my interest or is a specialty of mine in the performance world. I very much try to stay to my field. I don’t want someone bringing their hundred-thousand-dollar race car into my shop and seeing a minivan on one of my racks.

T: What you would like to add?
K: I can’t emphasize taking classes enough. I love helping people out. This past fall, we took nine students to the track for the first time and after they had run down the track, they were grinning from ear to ear. To bring nine new guys into the thing you love is big to me. I want to show students that this is the right way to do it. That’s the big payoff.

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[To get started finishing your degree, contact Tony Hooker with the Parkland College Adult Re-entry Center at ahooker@parkland.edu or 217/351-2462.]

Applied Technology Student/Parent Information Night

Parkland College’s state-of-the-art technical training programs lead to high-tech careers! Some programs even guarantee 100% job placement for successful graduates.

Want to learn more about these cutting-edge programs and the careers available?

Attend our Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies Student/Parent Information Night on Wednesday, February 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Parkhill Applied Technology Center (T building).

This event is free to attend and open to high school juniors and seniors. Bring your families to check out our hands-on instructional labs, meet our faculty and area employers, and learn how you can begin a well-paying career you love with just two years (or less!) of training. Featured career areas include:

  • agriculture
  • collision repair
  • diesel power
  • HVAC
  • precision agriculture
  • land surveying
  • automotive technology
  • construction
  • horticulture
  • electrical control systems
  • industrial technology

Ready to sign up? Visit the Ag/EST SPIN website. Contact Aimee Densmore at agest@parkland.edu or 217/373-3838 with questions.

[Aimee Densmore is program manager for Parkland’s Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies department.]

Why Parkland Land Surveying is Top Trainer

If you’re looking for one of the nation’s top land surveying educators, look no further than Parkland College. We recently earned the 2016 NCEES Surveying Education Award from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Just 10 universities or technical institutes across the country won this inaugural award, and Parkland was the sole Illinois school earning the distinction.

So what makes our Construction Design Management: Land Surveying program an important choice for those pursuing professional licensure in surveying? I asked 2014 program graduate and Army veteran Jim Harpole, now project manager at JLH Land Surveying Inc. in Plainfield, to share his perspective on that. Here’s what Jim had to say.

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Strong foundation, ideal environment. The Land Surveying AAS program gave me the strong foundation I needed to succeed in my surveying career. Thanks to the wide range of topics and challenging curriculum, I was given an opportunity to experience different survey applications and an insight into the possibilities that a career in land surveying offers. The Parkland College campus is well-suited for the application and practice of land surveying.

Parkland Land Surveying students work on equipment.
Parkland Land Surveying students work on equipment.

Real-world experience. I especially benefited from the many off-campus projects that the program undertakes, projects like creating topographic surveys for the Monticello Railway Museum and establishing the photogrammetric control network for Champaign and Piatt counties. We even did the property boundaries for a few Habitat for Humanity projects in Monticello.

Students in the program also work with various types of software platforms and surveying equipment in current use. The experience that Parkland graduates possess greatly improves their marketability and brings recruiters from all over the Great Lakes region.

Reaching out, giving back. With the average age of licensed surveyors somewhere in the upper 50s, the land surveying profession is currently facing a large age gap, due to both the increase in educational requirements and a lack of public outreach to bring in more young people. The Parkland College Land Surveying program continues to play a vital and leading role in Illinois and the surrounding area by reaching out to high school programs; supporting the Boy Scouts of America by hosting a surveying merit badge; and assisting with logistics and judging for Illinois FFA sectional and state agricultural mechanics competitions, hosted annually on the Parkland campus.

Parkland also works with the University of Illinois’ Engineering program, which accepts CIT 255 Engineering Surveying course credit from Parkland as junior/senior engineering credit.

Helpful faculty and staff. I had such a great experience while at Parkland. Every instructor I had during the two years I spent on campus was always approachable and willing to set aside their time to assist me in understanding the coursework. As a student veteran, I was especially pleased with the service I received from the Financial Aid and Veteran Services office.

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***For more about the Construction Design and Management: Land Surveying AAS degree and certificates visit parkland.edu/academics/departments/est/construction.aspx***

[Todd Horton is program director for the Construction Design and Management programs at Parkland College.]

HS Students Invited to Try Ag/Engineering/Tech Jobs

Regional high school juniors and seniors will soon compete in pit crew contests, spark plug challenges, carpentry contests, and other hands-on events introducing future career options in agriculture, engineering, and related technologies.

The annual Parkland College Agriculture/Engineering Science and Technologies Open House is happening Friday, October 14.

Parkland’s state-of-the-art lab spaces will host the day’s events. The Parkhill Applied Technology Center, the Tony Noel Agricultural Technology Applications Center, and the Construction Education Alliance (Parkland on Mattis) simulate on-the-job conditions using industry-recognized equipment.

Students will choose two innovative sessions from automotive; collision repair; diesel power; electrical power; industrial technology and welding; construction management; engineering science; and agriculture, precision ag, and horticulture. Each session will last 40 minutes and provide a hands-on, career-exploration activity.

High schools are encouraged to bring groups of interested students. However, parents/guardians are also invited to bring their high schooler to the event should the local high school choose not to participate. Every participant will receive a free T-shirt and lunch.

Please visit www.parkland.edu/agestopenhouse for more information and to register. Registration is required by September 28.

A Snazzy New Room

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I am incredibly excited to be teaching this semester in one of our new Innovative Learning Labs. Funded by Title III, these rooms were designed by faculty to be modern, collaborative, versatile, and awesome.

I am teaching in the larger of the two, with high ceilings and natural light. Six Apple TVs line the walls with another on a mobile cart, and the professor or the students can share their computer screens with one or all of the TVs. Versatile seating and tables can be rearranged in a million different ways. Color on the walls and in the upholstered furniture departs from the usual institutional classroom feel. Note the lack of a large board for lectures, and really, the lack of any natural front of the room.

What? A math class with no front board? Yes, that is exactly what I’m doing.

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I hope for this room to affect my class from two aspects:

  1. Super cool technology that I can harness in all kinds of creative ways
  2. An open, casual room that just feels different and has a subtle influence on the way students feel and collaborate

I must confess that I feel completely unqualified to harness the potential of this room, but I’m enthusiastic and willing to brainstorm with others. With the help of our instructional designer and other creative colleagues, I hope to use this opportunity to infuse my class with engaging activities and digital materials that enhance my students’ learning in meaningful ways.

And with the sound-muffling baffles, it sort of looks like the inside of the old Tardis. And that’s just cool.

[Erin Wilding-Martin teaches mathematics  at Parkland College. The article above is a repost from her Developmental Math Redesign blog.]