PNC Construction Club Connects Students with Professionals

Dwight Graham. Robert Kennedy, Bob Long

Dwight Graham, president of Board of Directors, LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity; Robert Kennedy, PNC Construction Club vice president; Bob Long, executive director, LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity

Members of the Purdue University North Central Construction Club recently hosted a networking breakfast to connect students with area professionals, showcase the PNC Construction Engineering and Management Technology program and raise money for the LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity.

The Construction Club has been part of the PNC campus for more than 25 years. Its alumni work throughout Indiana and across the country.

“The breakfast provided a unique opportunity for PNC students to meet with a number of reputable companies,” said Robert Kennedy, Construction Club vice president and a key organizer of the event. “It is not very often that these businesses get together in the same room to network with students. Most wanted to attend because they were interested in hiring students for internships and full-time positions.”

Event sponsors were: Berglund Construction, Inc., Chesterton; DA Dodd, Inc., Rolling Prairie; DH2W Architects, Michigan City; LaPorte County Solid Waste District; Performance Services, Indianapolis; Rieth-Riley Construction, located throughout Indiana and the Midwest; The Troyer Group, South Bend; Tonn & Blank Construction, Michigan City; Wall Constructors LLC, Michigan City and Ziolkowski Construction, Inc., South Bend.

Construction Club members, PNC College of Engineering and Technology students, faculty, business professionals and representatives of LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity got to know one another.

“This is an ideal time for students to establish relationships with potential employers,” said Martha Garcia-Saenz, associate professor of Construction Engineering and Management Technology and Construction Club faculty advisor. “For some, it is a kind of interview in an informal setting.”

By speaking with the professionals, students explored the many career options available to get a better idea of how they may apply their talents. Students learned what employers look for when hiring and the guests were happy to answer questions.

“The students were fascinated by their conversations with the professionals,” said Garcia-Saenz. “The breakfast was like a blind date, no one knew who they would sit with, but maybe some found their match by the end of breakfast.”

Kennedy has more than 10 years of experience in the field. “I’ve worked primarily in the federal public works sector on large projects across the U.S.,” he explained. “I served in many capacities, primarily in project management and safety management. My most notable experience was as project manager for concrete cutting/removal operations in Wedge 3 at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks.”

He worked with a bridge removal and installation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, did approach lighting upgrades at an airport, worked in construction safety management at BP Oil Refinery in Whiting, was with a Sinclair Oil Refinery in Wyoming and a 100 million-gallon Ethenol Plant in Illinois.

He is earning a PNC degree to enhance his credentials. Eventually, he would like to own a construction management firm.

Bob Long, executive director of LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity, welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the evolving relationship between PNC and LaPorte County Habitat.

“Rob Kennedy took the lead in re-connecting the Construction Club with Habitat,” said Long. “He conceived of and organized the event and solicited volunteers to work on home builds. I visualize this relationship expanding. The combination of students willing to learn and an organization in need of committed, enthusiastic volunteers is a winning combination. I look forward to the possibility of a more formal collaboration with PNC.”

Kennedy noted that the club connected Habitat with Continental Carpentry Components, a local roof and floor truss manufacturer, to provide roof and floor trusses for two recent habitat houses. Club members volunteered with the most recent house in Michigan City.

Breakfast guests signed a 2×4 that will become part of the next LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity home.

“We appreciate the support of the administration, staff, students and Construction Club for furthering our mission of providing decent, affordable homes to families in our community.”

Ziolkowski Construction, general contractor for the PNC Student Services and Activities Complex, will give the Construction Club access to the job site so students can observe, discuss and learn.

The Construction Club has a team working on a project for the National Association of Home Builders construction competition in Las Vegas in January. The project, due Dec. 27, asks students to design, prepare a construction estimate and budget; construction schedule; cash flow projections; project management and organization; marketing plan and risk analysis; project site plan; land development plan and green building initiatives for a 40-acre development in Tennessee.

The students are expected to submit professional-level plans and construction company executives acting as judges expect the same work as they would from any builder or contractor.

Learn more about the Construction Club at

PNC Non-Credit Grant Writing Program

The Purdue University North Central Office of Graduate and Extended Learning and Office of Learning Technology, in partnership with Independent Cat Society, in Westville, will offer a non-credit workshop explaining how to write grants.

The 10-week workshop meets Wednesdays from Feb. 11, through April 15, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It will be taught by Dr. Anastasia Trekles, PNC clinical professor and director of Learning Technologies, and Roberta Jocius, grant coordinator and an adoption counselor for the Independent Cat Society; a non-profit organization dedicated to animal welfare.

Registration is $395 and includes all materials. Special rates are available for PNC students, alumni and employees. The registration deadline is Feb. 4, at 4 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Independent Cat Society.

This course is designed to help participants become more skilled in grant writing and identifying grant-providing agencies and foundations. Through practice in developing and refining ideas at each major stage of the grant writing process, participants will become more familiar with the necessary steps in obtaining a grant and defining the requirements of a grant-funded project.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to identify grant requests for proposal that are available and obtain information on how to qualify and apply by researching and discussing with peers to share resources, determine what a quality grant proposal looks like, describe and rationalize how grant funding will be spent in a proposal and relate how a grant-funded program will be evaluated for effectiveness.

To register or obtain further information about this program, visit or contact Cassandra Boehlke, coordinator of Graduate and Extended Learning, at (219) 785-5748, or Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Boehlke.

PNC Tuition Discount Program

Purdue University North Central students have the opportunity to reduce the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree thanks to the PNC tuition discount plan. PNC students will receive a 10 percent rate reduction for each credit hour taken beyond 12 hours per semester. The discount plan is designed to provide financial incentives for students to increase the number of credit hours taken each semester and encourage them to graduate in four years.

Spring semester classes begin the week of Jan. 12. Students may enroll in spring and summer classes.

This fall semester, PNC students saved a collective $100,000 in tuition costs thanks to the PNC tuition discount program. About 54 percent of PNC students took advantage of the discount option. These students took a total of 4,523 additional credit hours.

These students not only saved tuition dollars, but they also helped to ensure that they will graduate sooner than they would have if they took fewer credit hours. Students who earn 15 credit hours each semester will be able to complete a typical 120 credit hour bachelor’s degree in eight semesters, meaning that they will earn their degrees in four years, save more than $500 under the new discount plan and enter their chosen profession sooner.

In comparison, students who earn 12 credit hours each semester will need 10 semesters, or five years, to complete a typical 120 credit hour bachelor’s degree.

A recent report issued by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education noted that students who delay completing their degrees pay more tuition dollars and lose potential wages and career opportunities.

Teresa Lubbers, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education noted, “Earning an on-time degree will always be the best and most affordable path to college graduation.”

Further information about the tuition discount program can be obtained by contacting 219-785-5505, or visiting

PNC Students Collect Donations for Thanksgiving Meals

Elly Johansen and Paige Mellen

PNC Students Elly Johansen and Paige Mellen

Purdue University North Central students are continuing the campus tradition of collecting donations to provide Thanksgiving meals to deserving PNC students. Students in the Dean’s Leadership Group, along with the Accounting Club and MBA Leadership Council are working to collect donations of non-perishable food along with monetary donations that will buy turkeys, dinner rolls and other necessary items.

Elly Johansen, the Dean’s Leadership Group treasurer, volunteered to lead the food drive. “I believe everyone should have a nice meal on Thanksgiving,” said Johansen, who is a Social Work major.

The students have committed to proving food for Thanksgiving meals for the families of 30 students. This includes the turkey and traditional side dishes. Some of the food donations will provide some additional food staples such as spaghetti, rice, noodles, soup and other non-perishable items.

The outpouring of support has thrilled Johansen. “One student and her mother immediately donated $100,” she related. “When I put out a collection box at PNC – Porter County, a staff member handed me $50. The Chancellor has supported us; our Veterans have been very generous. People want to donate.”

Monetary donations are gathered through the on-campus sale of paper turkey cut outs for $1. Johansen is finding that many students, faculty and staff are giving more than the minimum donation.

The primary objective of the Dean’s Leadership Group (DLG) is to help its members develop their leadership skills through various campus and community projects. The 25 DLG members are asked to volunteer 50 hours of community service time a year. The students are involved with a number of activities each year and support on another in their efforts.

DLG President Paige Mellen, of Michigan City and a Business major with a concentration in Management, noted that leading a project can seem like a daunting task at times, but working through it and seeing your success is “empowering.”

“It’s a great feeling when you can see that your hard work has paid off,” she explained. “It seems like everyone pulls together and works for a good cause.”

A graduate of Morgan Township High School, Johansen said that she volunteered with a number of projects, but this is the first that she’s led, “It’s a lot of work, but there’s also a sense of achievement too. It is satisfying to know that we’re helping other students.”

While the students will never know the names of the recipients and their families who will receive the food baskets, that’s fine with Johansen and Mellen.

“I am satisfied just knowing that we are helping out and paying it forward,” said Johansen. “I am happy to be in a position to help.”

PNC Faculty Member Hosts Book Reading, Signing

Purdue University North Central Limited-Term Lecturer of Heather Augustyn will host a reading and signing of her newest book, “Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music” on Friday, Dec. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Red Cup Café & Deli, 115 Broadway in Chesterton. Adults and children are welcome and food and refreshments will be served

“Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music” is a comprehensive look at Jamaican vocalists, instrumentalists, record producers, dancers, wives, mothers and deejays who helped to shape the course of Jamaican music on the island and worldwide.

This the fourth book from Augustyn on Jamaican music and culture and it features a cover by local artist Carrie Coslov. Augustyn is also author of “Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist;” “Ska: An Oral History,” and “Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation.”

The author teaches English Composition classes at PNC. She is a correspondent for “The Times” of Northwest Indiana.

The book is available at,, and will be available at the event for $20 for purchase.

Jazz Masters 101 Reunion Wraps Up Purdue North Central Sinai Forum Season

Jazz Masters

Jazz Masters: Jeff Hamilton, Dr. Peter Bankoff and John Clayton

The Purdue University North Central Sinai Forum will conclude its 61st season Sunday, Dec. 14 with a performance of swinging jazz mixed with a lively discussion of the art of improvisation and the essence of jazz with John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums of the Grammy-nominated Clayton Hamilton Orchestra. They will be reunited with their musical friend, Michigan City native, Dr. Peter Bankoff on piano.

This will be presented at the Stardust Event Center at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City. The session begins at 4 p.m. Doors open at 3 p.m.

For this final performance of the season, tickets are $25 with an advance registration as a special opportunity to get to know the Sinai Forum. Call 219-771-9022 to reserve a seat. Students who show a valid school I.D. are admitted free of charge.

In 1986 Clayton and Hamilton joined forces with Jeff Clayton on saxophone to form the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. But a decade or so prior to that, John and Jeff were students at Indiana University and became close friends with Bankoff, who attended the IU School of Music. Bankoff, the son of the late Dr. Milton and Sylvia Bankoff, the founders of the Sinai Forum, grew up in Michigan City and studied both piano and viola. He attended high school at Interlochen, Mich., Arts Academy and performed with the Michigan City Symphony, arranged and directed music for the Miss Indiana Pageant and played piano for renowned composer and conductor Henry Mancini.

Following his graduation, Bankoff chose to pursue another passion of his – medicine. Inspired by his father and other physicians in his family, he became an anesthesiologist. He practices with one of the largest anesthesia specialty groups in the country. And while the group hasn’t played together in some 40 years, Hamilton asked Bankoff to surprise Clayton when he was guest of honor at a jazz party in Phoenix a few years ago. The result was a performance that brought out the same exuberance and joy that they shared as college students.

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra has recorded six CDs: “Groove Shop,” a Grammy award nominee; “Heart & Soul;” “Absolutely!” “Explosive! With Milt Jackson” and “Live At MCG.”

Sponsors for the season include The Times Media Company, Duneland Health Council, John W. Anderson Foundation, Franciscan Alliance Northern Indiana Hospitals, Kankakee Valley REMC and NIPSCO.




PNC Enrollment Day is December 10

Purdue University North Central invites prospective students to an Enrollment Day on Wednesday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This event welcomes current and prospective students who want to register for the 2015 spring, summer and fall semesters.

Prospective students will have the opportunity to fill out an application, get admitted, take an assessment test (if needed) and receive financial aid information.

Official transcripts must be submitted in order to be evaluated for admission. Once admitted, students will meet with an academic advisor to discuss their plan of study and register for courses.

There will be a sign-in table located at the north entrance of the Technology Building, near the lounge that is adjacent to Room 157.

No registration is required and students will be helped on a first come, first served basis. Family members are welcome to attend.

Further information may be obtained by contacting Janice Whisler at, or 219-785-5415. Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Whisler.

PNC Offers “Better-For-You Baking” Seminar

The Purdue University North Central Office of Graduate and Extended Learning and Department of Nursing and Health Studies will offer a non-credit healthy eating seminar on Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. in the Library-Student-Faculty Building (LSF,) Room 144.

“Better-For-You Baking” will be led by Amelia Wilson, PNC continuing lecturer of Health Studies, She will explain how to use substitutions for fat when baking, how to use fruit in recipes to add fiber and reduce fat and more. Participants will sample a healthy holiday treat and learn a recipe they can make on their own.

Seminar tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased at or at the door.

To register or obtain further information about this program, visit or contact Cassandra Boehlke, coordinator of Graduate and Extended Learning, at (219) 785- 5748, or Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Boehlke.

PNC Book Club to Read “The Help”

The Purdue University North Central Alpha Mu Pi English Club book club will meet Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. in the Library-Student Faculty Building Assembly Hall, Room 02 on the PNC campus.

The group will read and discuss the best-selling novel “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. The book tells the story of African-American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. The novel is Stockett’s first. It took her five years to complete and was rejected by 60 literary agents before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett. “The Help” has since been translated into 40 languages and published in 35 countries.

The book inspired the movie, “The Help.” The movie was nominated for 86 various awards and won 64 awards, including an Oscar for Best Performance by a Supporting Actress by Octavia Spencer.

The Book Club will meet regularly during the academic year as members read and discuss various books of interest.


PNC to Open Leonard J. Brown Veterans Center

Purdue University North Central  will host a grand opening of the Leonard J. Brown Veterans Center on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. in the Library Student Faculty Building, Room 67.

The event will be led by Veterans Coordinator and current PNC student-veteran Jason Wray. Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin and Vice Chancellor Paul McGuiness will be in attendance. Refreshments will be served.

The family of Leonard J. Brown, who served as a Tec 4 in the 474th Infantry Regiment from July 28, 1944 to April 15, 1946, has generously supported the PNC veterans center. The center will be used for PNC student-veterans to hold group and individual meetings. It will seamlessly allow for interaction in the campus community and also provide a place for students with a shared background to gather.

The Leonard J. Brown Veterans Center will be relocated to the PNC Student Services and Activities Complex when that building is complete in spring, 2016.