Spoon River College was one of 12 Illinois community colleges awarded a grant from the Illinois Community College Board to help implement virtual reality equipment into existing career and technical education programs throughout the state.

Overall, the funding will allow recipient colleges to purchase VR hardware and software to recruit and instruct students in a variety of workforce training programs for industries including but not limited to healthcare, criminal justice, manufacturing, and HVAC. Spoon River College will receive $23,481.

Brad O’Brien, dean of career and technical education at Spoon River College, said the college was excited and grateful to be one of the recipients of the ICCB grant.  “We look forward to projects that will increase student interest and awareness of career and technical education programs at Spoon River College as well as the high paying, high demand jobs that are available to them after completion. The grant will also provide the opportunity for instructors to integrate virtual reality into their curriculum and lesson plans.”

Spoon River College offers a number of career programs, from advanced manufacturing to welding. Many of the programs offer both associate in applied science degrees as well as certificates, which can be completed in a shorter amount of time and stand alone or be combined to culminate in an associate degree.

“The Illinois Community College System is constantly looking to stay at the forefront of workforce development. This funding will not only help recruit students who want access to the latest technology but also provide new cutting-edge training opportunities to better position them for success in their chosen career fields,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham. A total of $766,000 was awarded.

The two-year grant program was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pritzker in FY24. Individual grant amounts were awarded based on college program and equipment needs.

“This funding brings new perspectives to community colleges around the state through VR technologies that will enhance and explore new avenues of hands-on learning in our schools,” said bill sponsor and State Senator Javier Loera Cervantes (D-Chicago). “VR programs have been utilized in many industries and have so much potential for growth in the future that implementing these programs in our community college system can give Illinois students a competitive advantage in their education and beyond.”

Visit www.src.edu for more information about Spoon River College and the programs offered.

Diesel and Power Systems Technology student and instructor working on a project in the shop