Once a week, Jeff Lindke receives an email from a local manufacturing or design company, each with a similar message: “Do you know of any students who would be interested in working for my company?”
Lindke is an instructor at the Elkhart Area Career Center and he cannot graduate students out of his computer-aided drafting (CAD) program fast enough to fill the demand in Michiana, the Elkhart Truth reports.
“When the RV industry crashed several years ago, many of the draftsmen left the area,” Lindke said. “I have more jobs than students to fill them. I cannot get enough guys and girls out of here.”
CAD is the practice of using computer software to create, modify, analyze and optimize designs, most of which are three-dimensional. The skills are used in many industries, from RV manufacturers who need new parts for their latest models to architectural firms who need to create 3-D floor plans before beginning construction on a new building.
Although Lindke’s current students have jobs waiting for them after they graduate, most are still determined to pursue college — and they have a head start on their degree, thanks to the Elkhart Area Career Center, which is part of Elkhart Community Schools and serves 16 area high schools.
Students can earn up to 18 college credits at Ivy Tech Community College through the CAD program and they can also earn industry-recognized certifications.
Some of Lindke’s students plan on going straight to college, while others will try to find a job first and pursue a degree later. The latter is Bowman’s plan, so he can get a year of work experience before continuing his education.
“I’ve learned a lot about the way drafting is done within a business environment, so I feel like I’ll be prepared to enter the working world,” Bowman said. “The extra income will help me pay for my college education.”
No matter their plans for life after school, the students in Lindke’s CAD class agree the center has prepared them for the careers they want.
“It’s one of the closest places a student can get to an actual work environment,” Hochstetler said.
To read the full story from the Truth, click here.