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IMEC announces grant award to expand John Wood Community College’s computer networking course

The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) awarded eight Future of Illinois grants to faculty from Illinois universities and community colleges. These grant awards, with a total investment of more than $650,000, will engage faculty on innovative solutions to prepare Illinois manufacturing for the future. IMEC recently announced that one of these eight faculty grants has been awarded to David Hetzler, Dean of Career and Technical Education at John Wood Community College (JWCC).

Hetzler’s proposal outlined an extension of JWCC’s two-credit hour course entitled Fundamentals of Networking – CSC 163. This course is currently not a requirement for students enrolled in the college’s manufacturing and electrical programs. Once the course has been upgraded, it will be worth three credit hours, align with networking needs of the local manufacturing and industry sector, and will become a required course for manufacturing and electrical JWCC students.

Further course development will focus on all aspects of cybersecurity, especially as it relates to industry and manufacturing in JWCC’s community. New course topics may include, but are not limited to: firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention; phishing and basic network scams; complying with industry regulations.

Input for the specific course content will be sought from manufacturing advisory councils to ensure the content aligns with industry needs.

“JWCC sits in the West Central Economic Development Region, which has an employment sector that is heavily based in manufacturing,” Hetzler stated in his proposal. “The addition of cybersecurity courses will further strengthen the computer networking/technology degrees and certificates, resulting in more manufacturing career pathway opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor projects cybersecurity analyst employment will grow by 33% from 2020 to 2030, placing it among the nation’s fastest growing jobs.”

When asked to make a statement about IMEC’s Future of Illinois grant program, IMEC President David Boulay, Ph.D., had this to say, “We are thrilled with the innovative solutions that Illinois academia presented to help Illinois manufacturing embrace the future of manufacturing. From developing our rural workforce to data analytics, to sustainability and cybersecurity, there is incredible potential in these grant awards.” For more information, visit

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