Anyone stating that this area's a miserable place to live, they obviously haven't asked a group of college students planning their futures in Rockford. That's all thanks to just a few months spent in an aerospace internship program.
The Joint Institute of Engineering and Technology Aerospace, or Jiet-A program, helps students getting their education in this area stay in Rockford for a job. It's changed the life of at least one intern who never thought she'd be working in aerospace.
"If you would've asked me when I was 12, I would've said you're crazy." -laughs Jiet-A intern and Northern Illinois University junior Audrey Pearson.
Through her Jiet-A internship, Audrey now spends a few hours each week at UTC Aerospace Systems. Her experience isn't getting coffee.
"I assist in the testing of Bombardier CSeries planes. I also assist in the paperwork and there's a lot of that in the aerospace industry." -she explains.
That's on top of double majoring in electrical engineering and mathematics at NIU. She first heard about the program her final year at another local school.
"I won a math award my last semester at Rock Valley College, which was presented by the President Dr. Jack Becherer and he said 'Come see me in my office sometime,' and I did and he told me about the new Jiet-A program and I was excited to take part in it." -says Audrey.
She's the product of what Jiet-A leaders like Janyce Fadden and Jeff Kaney hoped the program would accomplish, keeping an educated, talented workforce here long-term after getting a foot in the door at companies like UTC."
"I hopefully may continue working there as an engineer after I graduate."
There are 18 interns currently a part of Jiet-A, that's grown from just four in the fall. Program organizers hope to have around 25 students by spring. If you're interested in Jiet-A, the number to call is (815) 969-4269.
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