Tag Archives: Parkland

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.



The Risks and Rewards of Innovation

Parkland Graphic Design student Kate Ross was on hand to receive a Champaign County Innovation Award for AMP, a student-run media production group.

Have you ever been in the right place at the right time? That’s how I felt last week when I attended the Innovation Celebration, an awards ceremony at Krannert Center hosted by the Champaign Economic Development Corporation. Somehow, little old me ended up at an event with important people and a mashed potato bar (YES). How? By taking some chances.

Last year, I took the chance to enroll in the Graphic Design program at Parkland. Last semester, I took the chance to start an internship with AMP (Applied Media Promotions), a student-run communications firm sponsored by the Department of Fine and Applied Arts. And last week, it paid off: AMP won the award for Innovation in Engagement at Parkland College. As I sat through the awards in awe of the visionary people that live and work in this community, I couldn’t believe that I was a part of the group.

To be honest, I felt slightly out of place. I just started as a graphic designer at AMP two months ago, and my most recent innovation? Getting my five-year-old to stop spitting indoors. However, when I considered the journey that landed me in a room full of amazing people, I realized that, like them, I had leaped into the unknown. The spirit of innovation is risk, after all. And the Innovation Celebration honors not only achievement, but courage, positivity, open minds, strength, wisdom and all the other abstract values that characterize innovation. That evening, I, my colleagues and our leaders at AMP were right where we belonged.

AMP is new, and there’s a lot of “Fail Better” happening in our little
space in the basement of the D building. It’s an invigorating,
collaborative atmosphere, and I’m so glad our hard work was honored publicly. If you’re looking for resume-building-experience and fun, and even some pizza here and there, we’re always looking for students who aren’t afraid of the exciting work of innovation.

Visit our Facebook page, or email coordinator Cindy Smith for information about joining AMP.

[Featured image: Faculty advisor Kendra Mcclure and students from AMP display their Innovation in Engagement Award at the recent Innovation Celebration. The event is hosted by the Champaign County Economic Development Corp. Photo by Cindy Smith. ]


Eek! It’s a MOS!

This time of the semester, you’ll hear a lot of talk about MOS among students in the Office Professional program. For some students, MOS is something they’d just as soon run away from. For others, it is viewed as a valuable opportunity to hone their skills and prove their expertise.

What’s a MOS?

So what is a MOS, anyway, and why can it be so scary?

MOS is an industry certification. It stands for Microsoft Office Specialist, and attaining MOS certification means you have demonstrated a certain level of expertise in an Office application. The certification is gaining recognition among employers who are looking for staff who not only know applications, but know them well.

There is a different MOS exam for each major Microsoft Office application. For Word and Excel, there are two levels of certification: Core (which requires passing one exam) and Expert (which comes in two parts, or two exams).

MOS exams are challenging. It’s not enough just to know how to use the software; you have to know how to use it to solve problems without being given step-by-step instructions. Sometimes they even test on skills not covered in class. As noted above, this is an industry certification, which means your Parkland instructors have no control over how it is created or scored. And though many of us are MOS-certified in one or more applications, we don’t even know exactly what’s on them. And if we did, we couldn’t tell you.

Here are a few more details regarding MOS exams:

  • MOS exams are project-based. The test candidate is presented a project to complete and some specific instructions regarding how to complete it.
  • Practice exams are available.
  • Taking a MOS exam requires agreeing to a non-disclosure agreement. This means that test-takers agree not to tell anyone the details of what’s on the exam.
  • Test results are given in the form of categories and percentages. We never know exactly which questions we got right, and which we got wrong.
  • Passing a MOS exam results in an immediate sense of accomplishment, which almost always translates to a big smile, happy feet, and perhaps even a spontaneous “Woohoo!”

How can you take a MOS exam?

MOS exams are administered at approved Certiport testing facilities, and you have a couple of options for taking them:

  • Purchase a voucher through Certiport, where the cost ranges from $100-$150, depending upon retake and study material options. Then, arrange a time with the testing facility of your choice, present your voucher and photo ID, and take the test.
  • Take an applications class through the CSIT Department at Parkland. Students who successfully complete CIS 131 (PowerPoint), CIS 134 (Excel), CIS 135 (Word), CIS 138 (Access) or CTC 119 (Outlook) are offered the opportunity to take the MOS exam for that application. Students who complete the courses via the equivalent CTC sequences are also eligible. For some courses, the MOS exam is required. For others, it is optional. In either case, work with your instructor to arrange an exam time at no additional cost to you.

What about multiple MOS certifications?

Some students take full advantage of the opportunity to get certified and take as many MOS exams as their program (or budget) allows. A few things can happen here:

  • They might earn Parkland’s Microsoft Application Specialist Certificate, which requires 14 hours of coursework (five courses, four applications) and passing at least three MOS exams.
  • They might become certified as a MOS Master.
  • They might advance professionally by their documented deep knowledge of software applications.

So, the next time you hear someone fretting about a MOS here on campus, there’s no need to glance nervously around the floor or jump onto the nearest chair. This is only a test.