Oakton Foundation Spotlights Manufacturing Programs

Oakton alumnus Modesto Duarte (left) demonstrates a laser cutting machine as State Senator Laura Murphy (D-28) looks on during the "Spotlight On: Manufacturing" event at Oakton College April 10.

Skokie, Ill. (April 12, 2023) - Community leaders, industry partners and Oakton College Educational Foundation supporters got an up-close look at how Oakton College prepares students to meet the local manufacturing industry’s workforce needs during a special event Monday, April 10. The Oakton College Educational Foundation hosted “Spotlight On: Manufacturing,” highlighting Oakton’s array of innovative manufacturing degree and certificate programs. More than 50 guests attended the event at Oakton’s Ray Hartstein Campus, 7701 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, Ill., 60077.

“As an industry that is increasingly becoming automated, our business partners and employers rely on workers who have the ability to program and troubleshoot equipment, maximize Computer Aided Design systems, utilize robotics and navigate supply chain challenges — among a long list of other skills,” Oakton College President Joianne L. Smith, Ph.D., said during her welcome remarks. “Oakton is preparing the next generation of manufacturers to efficiently and cleanly build and deliver the products we rely on every day.”

Public officials in attendance included State Senator Laura Murphy (D-28), State Representative Kevin Olickal (D-16) and representatives from the office of State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-17). 

Guests toured each of Oakton’s three labs within Oakton’s Sylvia and Irving M. Footlik Manufacturing and Engineering Center, including the Computer Numerical Controls Lab, Automation/Mechatronics Lab and Engineering/Mechanical Design Lab. Manufacturing faculty, alumni and current students led demonstrations of how the lab’s cutting-edge equipment is preparing students for success in the modern manufacturing industry.

Oakton alumni leading lab demonstrations included Yong Yoo and Francis Barar, both of whom were Oakton College Educational Foundation scholarship recipients. In addition to their employment with local manufacturers, both Yoo and Barar also serve as adjunct faculty at Oakton.

The event also included a demonstration of Oakton’s NASA Robotics Competition Team’s latest rover project. Supported by donors who give to the Oakton College Educational Foundation, Oakton’s Robotics Team has competed against students enrolled in some of the nation’s top university engineering programs annually for more than a decade. Student competitions, along with apprenticeship and internship opportunities, offer experiential learning opportunities to complement classroom and lab instruction.

Oakton students — many of whom have industry experience and wish to advance their careers — can pursue associate degrees in Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Mechatronics or Supply Chain Automation. Students can also enroll in short-term certificate programs focused on specialized skills, including automation programming, robotics, computer numerical controls (CNC) and welding, among others. Oakton offers stackable credentials, allowing students to apply credits earned through certificate programs toward an associate degree.

Recent manufacturing program graduates are currently employed by local manufacturers including S&C Electric Company, John Crane, Vetter Pharma, Federal-Mogul Corporation and others.

The Oakton College Educational Foundation’s “Spotlight On: Manufacturing” is part of a continuing series highlighting Oakton College’s exceptional educational programs, learning experiences, and faculty who train the workforce of today and tomorrow. The Educational Foundation proudly supports the mission and vision of the College by raising funds for student scholarships, academic programs, teaching excellence and capital improvements that enhance the quality of education at Oakton.

“It was wonderful to have so many community members experience the amazing opportunities available to students enrolled in Oakton College’s Manufacturing and Engineering Programs,” said Katherine Sawyer, Oakton College’s chief advancement officer and executive director of the Oakton College Educational Foundation. “The Foundation is proud to support students enrolled in these programs through scholarships, and underwrite initiatives that enrich learning experiences such as the NASA Robotics Competition Team. We are grateful to all of the Foundation supporters who enable student success through philanthropic contributions.”

If you have interest in enabling the success of Oakton students and enhancing Oakton programs through charitable giving, contact the Educational Foundation at foundation@oakton.edu or 847-635-1893.

For more information on educational opportunities at Oakton College, visit Oakton's website.


 Boguslaw Zappal, faculty CAD and Manufacturing coordinator, demonstrates a pneumatic trainer during the Spotlight On: Manufacturing event at Oakton College April 10.

Boguslaw Zappal, faculty CAD and Manufacturing coordinator, demonstrates a pneumatic trainer during the "Spotlight On: Manufacturing" event at Oakton College April 10.