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Rey: Theory meets practice at NIU

Northern Illinois University, founded as an education college in 1895 to prepare students for careers as teachers, boasts many strong programs.

The College of Engineering and Engineering Technology is a fairly recent addition to the university, offering studies of engineering since 1985.

Engineering is a discipline of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. Technology is the area of application design. Graduates provide scientific and technical knowledge to businesses and industries throughout the world.

Several DeKalb Chamber of Commerce members recently attended a reception hosted by the NIU–CEET. We also say the National Safety Education Center, one of a select group of 24 OSHA Training Institute Centers in the U.S. Custom-designed courses specialized to specific industries, are offered through the center.

Omar Ghrayeb, associate dean of Outreach and Undergraduate Programs, gave an overview of the college and the courses. There is a need for more students to study the field of engineering. Last year in the entire U.S. there were only 57,000 graduates in the field of engineering. In comparison, there were 600,000 engineering graduates in China.

It was enlightening to gain an understanding of the courses that are part of the college. There are four degree offerings – industrial and system engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and technology.

Graduate studies are offered in the areas of engineering and industrial management, with certificates of study in other technical disciplines available.

There are many very interesting research projects under way, including some in laser technology, fluid mechanics, reduction of noise pollution in factory settings and environmentally sensitive “green” technology applications.

It was interesting to learn about the research being conducted in our community. The programs at NIU are accredited by the most prestigious accrediting agency for engineering and engineering technology programs in the country.

The CEET programs at NIU are taught by full-time faculty with 96 percent having doctoral degrees and a great majority having professional certifications and industrial experience. The small classroom settings offer enhanced opportunities for interaction with professors and other students.

The college is committed to providing students a stimulating learning environment where they can develop practical skills that will help them secure life skills to compete in the workplace.

Advisory boards, staffed with industry representatives, annually provide input to course content to meet current needs of business and industries. There are 18 chapters of extracurricular organizations that provide experiential applications for students.

Partnerships are maintained with businesses and industries to provide students with practical experiences in the workplace. These complement classroom studies. An undergraduate certificate in Lean Six Sigma is offered through the college. Companies apply Lean concepts to their operations to cut waste and increase in productivity. Applications include manufacturing, banking, hospitals, transportation, warehousing and distribution activities.

We can be proud that NIU is giving students preparation to take valuable skills into the marketplace where they contribute to economic vitality and growth.

• John Rey lives in DeKalb and is retired from DeKalb Ag/Monsanto. He also has been employed with AXA Financial and Family Service Agency. He continues as an active community volunteer in several organizations. You may contact him at

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