November 17, 2022
Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) Organizational Leadership and Supervision (OLS) Pathway Program, created in conjunction with the Construction Advancement Foundation (CAF) and its partner Tonn and Blank Construction, offers working industry professionals the opportunity to earn an OLS Bachelor of Science to gain a competitive career edge.
In conjunction with Ivy Tech’s Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program, PNW enables these professionals to transfer 48 of their credit hours earned in their AAS program to the OLS Pathway program, an effort that not only offers convenience but also a smooth transition to finishing the degree.
“An industry-focused effort, the OLS Pathway Program at PNW College of Technology promotes a fantastic ethos for industry professionals looking to further their education in courses that are uniquely designed for them,” said Niaz Latif. , Dean of the College of Technology and Executive Director of the Center of Excellence in Marketing and Manufacturing. “Returning to school after a long time away can be daunting, but the Pathway OLS program serves to ensure a smooth transition into learning.”
In the previous year, 16 students earned bachelor’s degrees through the OLS Pathway program; so far this year has eight students registered. “We saw opportunities to meet certain needs that would benefit the construction industry in Northwest Indiana,” said Kevin Comerford, director of professional development at CAF.
“The first need is for local construction contractors and their inability to find and hire qualified project supervisors, who are critical to the success of a construction project. The second need is that construction workers who earned an associate’s degree in applied science in the design technology program at Ivy Tech Community College were unable to seamlessly pass their associate’s degree. to a viable licensing program at Purdue Northwest.
Prior to the start of students’ first semester, the program holds a one-day workshop for all cohorts to introduce them to Brightspace and other university technologies they may not be familiar with upon arrival, as well as the promise a course load designed to facilitate their return to class.
PNW instructors travel to the Construction Advancement Foundation in Portage, Indiana to conduct classes and also offer a hybrid format so students have the option of attending in person or virtually via Zoom. Classes are offered exclusively to Pathway students and are held Thursday and Friday afternoons after 3:30 p.m. to accommodate the 40-hour work schedule cohorts may have.
“PNW sees this program from a different perspective,” says Chandramouli Viswanatha Chandramouli, Department Director of Building Sciences and Organizational Leadership. “We are not trying to drive overall enrollment, but rather respond to the needs of society and industry to promote education in these professions.”
We are not trying to drive overall enrollment, but rather respond to the needs of society and industry to promote education in these professions.
The OLS Pathway program has also come to fruition through a partnership with Tonn and Blank Construction, the Midwest’s leading construction management, general contracting, and design-build firm. CEO and President Jon Gilmore praised the way PNW tailored the program to industry professionals and the attention to detail with the overall course layout.
“We are honored to have been part of the creation of this promising program,” said Gilmore. “Tonn and Blank Construction has long recognized the challenge our unionized workers face when seeking further education. The OLS Pathway program gives journeypersons a path to earning their bachelor’s degree using credits earned through apprenticeship. This is a victory for the employees and a victory for the organizations concerned. Seeing Purdue Northwest and Ivy Tech work together to find a solution to this problem is a testament to their commitment to improving NWI’s workforce.
In the summer of 2022, the CAF Board of Directors, in conjunction with the Northwest Indiana Contractors Association, created a joint scholarship program. The scholarship is available to construction and skilled trades workers who have graduated from Ivy Tech by successfully completing an apprenticeship program. Both organizations have committed to contributing financially to the scholarship for the 2022-2023 school year.
CAF Executive Director Dewey Pearman spoke about CAF’s contribution to the scholarship program and its involvement with Purdue Northwest. “The Construction Advancement Foundation is a strong supporter of the OLS Pathway program and has committed to providing $10,000 in scholarships to program participants.”