GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids ITT Technical Institute has been focused on technology since it opened its doors here in 1979.
ITT Technical Institute is part of a private college system centered on technology-oriented associate and bachelor degree programs that combine applied learning concepts with traditional academic study, such as communications, literature, art history and design, economics, physics, science and sociology.
The college is owned by Indianapolis-based ITT Education Services Inc. (ESI), which operates 70 ITT Technical Institutes nationwide that have a combined student body of more than 28,000.
Locally, ITT offers one bachelor degree and six associate degree programs
Associate degrees are offered in computer and electronics engineering technology, computer drafting and design, and in four IT areas: Web development, software applications and programming, multimedia, and computer network systems.
Student enrollment in Grand Rapids ITT is currently about 500, and the ITT staff includes 15 full-time faculty members and 15 to 20 adjunct instructors.
“Just because of the nature of our program now, a lot of our instructors have specialties in particular areas — programming, software, networking or Web page — areas that are more narrowly defined now than ever,” said Dennis Hormel, director of the college.
An advisory committee made up of representatives from the private sector oversees each program of study. Among area companies represented on the college’s advisory committees are Gentex Corp., Hewlett Packard, Haworth, Trivalent, Alticor and 3COM.
The college’s newest offering is an online bachelor degree program in technical project management for electronic commerce, which was introduced late last year.
Though the college is initially targeting the new program to its former and existing graduates, the long-term intent is to open it up to students who have associate degrees from other colleges and universities, Hormel said.
Online students have access to the ITT virtual library, and faculty are available for private instruction or advising at least six days a week via e-mail.
On-campus, ITT offers morning, afternoon, evening and weekend sessions, with most classes scheduled in four-hour sessions three days a week.
Hormel said for many years the college had traditionally provided associate degrees. But as the college grew, it made lots of changes in existing programs and added IT programs in response to the demand in the marketplace.
The computer electronics engineering technology program, one of the school’s oldest programs, has been continually updated and revised over time and remains one of the most popular programs, most likely because of its broad application to industry, he said. Computer drafting and design is a smaller program, but there is consistent demand for it locally as well.
The first wave of students in the college’s IT programs is set to graduate this year.
“Those are very popular because IT is where the world is heading right now,” Hormel added.
For a long time Grand Rapids ITT Technical School was training primarily the student coming right out of high school. But a migration has been taking place over the years, Hormel noted.
The age of the typical ITT student has started to shift from the high teens to the low twenties, and the preference is shifting more towards evening classes.
“It varies from time to time, but a significant number of our students have transferred credits from other four-year institutions and want a little more focus on technology, at least in the areas we offer.
“We have about 40 to 50 students that have served in the military.
“More students are already in the workplace and want to increase skills in their existing jobs or they’re looking at changing skill sets.”
ITT Technical Institute works closely with students in finding placement both locally and nationally, he said.
Some of Grand Rapids ITT graduates work for companies such as Intel Corp., Gentex Corp., BF Goodrich, Avionics Coinstar, Ameritech, Rapid Design Service and Rapistan Systems
“Because we have 69 other locations around the country we can pool our leads and we also have a national director of career services at headquarters in Indianapolis. Intel is a good example. Last year they recruited heavily in our company and hired a lot of our graduates.
“Technology truly is where the world is right now and we’re very focused on that.”