Rena Cotsones, assistant vice president of regional engagement for Northern Illinois University, has been appointed chair of the governing board for the Joint Institute of Engineering & Technology (JiET). JiET is operated through Rockford Area Strategic Initiatives (RASI), the nonprofit arm of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC).
“The creation of JiET-A was one of the most significant outcomes of NIU’s collaborative work with Rockford area partners on the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant,” Cotsones said. “I am pleased to take on this role to help ensure the sustainability of this initiative beyond the term of the grant.”
Dr. Cotsones replaces Jeff Kaney, who has served as chairman since 2012. As founding chairman of the Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN), Kaney has played an integral part in the success of the JiET program. He will remain active as a member of the Governing Board going forward and continues to serve as Chairman of RAAN.
The Board also announced the appointment of Dan Malaney, UTC Aerospace Systems’ Electric Systems Chief Engineer, as chairman of the JiET-A Steering Committee. Malaney has nine years experience at UTC Aerospace Systems, working within engineering leadership and management; he replaces the committee’s initial chairman Bill Kroll, who recently retired after an accomplished career in the aerospace industry. Bill remains active as a volunteer with the JiET program.
“The board extends its gratitude and appreciation to Jeff Kaney and Bill Kroll for their exceptional service over the past two years,” stated RAEDC/RASI Chairman Joel Sjostrom. “Under their leadership, the JiET-Aerospace program was launched and continues to fuel the careers of local talent while significantly improving the Region’s workforce pipeline. We look forward to future growth and development of this important initiative with our new leaders.”
JiET was formed in 2012, following initiatives originated by RAAN through the RAEDC. This activity was aligned with and supported by local efforts to support the aerospace cluster funded by federal Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant awarded to an NIU-led collaborative in 2010. The purpose of JiET is to fill the workforce pipeline with qualified local engineers, scientists and technicians as needed by area companies to fuel competitive business sustainment and growth while creating jobs to improve our local economy and quality of life.
“JiET-A is an important link in the Rockford area aerospace workforce supply chain,” Cotsones added. “With the support of multiple higher education and business partners, we are providing career awareness activities, counseling, mentorship, and internship opportunities to help Rockford ‘grow its own’ engineering and high-tech workforce.”
To date, more than 100 students have been accepted into JiET-A. Thirty-five students have worked in integrated internships in local aerospace companies and five have been hired as full-time employees. Twelve local companies are actively engaged as JiET-A internship sites.
The Rockford area is one of the top ten aerospace clusters in the United States. Aerospace companies in the Rockford region are changing the world through pioneering work in aerospace systems integration, software design, and aircraft and space technology. JiET-A connects students’ academic work with exciting internships to fuel their respective aerospace careers.
NIU partners in Rockford to boost pipeline of local aerospace talent (2012)
Aerospace grant partners share first-year results at NIU job fair (2013)