First-ever commercial truck driving curriculum launched; benefits include student loan eligibility, credits toward a logistics degree and internships

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Conexus Indiana and Ivy Tech Community College launched today the nation’s first training program for commercial truck drivers that is covered by federal student loans and enhances a graduate’s employability in the increasingly growing trucking industry. 

The CDL+ curriculum will be offered beginning January 2021 at five Ivy Tech campuses and is currently enrolling students. An additional eight Ivy Tech locations will offer the course later this year. 

Developed by Conexus Indiana in partnership with the Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA), Venture Logistics and Ivy Tech, and with an initial grant from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the CDL+ program elevates the quality of training for new commercial truck drivers while eliminating the historic financial barriers to entry. 

This is the first CDL program that is eligible for federal student loans, which required both state and federal legislation and approval from the U.S. Department of Education. The state of Indiana is also working to ensure CDL+ is eligible for Workforce Ready Grants.

“Shortages of truck drivers have been a pervasive problem for years, and only magnified by COVID-19, which has led to significant increases in online shopping,” said Bryce Carpenter, vice presdent of industry engagement for Conexus Indiana. “In response to this ongoing and growing critical need, Conexus Indiana worked with its network of logistics industry leaders to identify the barriers. It became clear quickly that students were held back by the cost of earning a certificate and that companies spent an inordinate amount of time and money training drivers before they could get to work. The CDL+ program addresses all of these obstacles.” 

CDL+ is a 17-credit-hour certificate that can be completed in one semester. Students will have 160 hours of training, which prepares them to become a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holder. The program includes 121 hours of operating observation, 30 hours of behind-the-wheel skill development, an 8-week internship, an overview of logistics and transportation which includes all types of trucking operations including intermodal processes. There is also a focus on professionalism and customer service.

“Ivy Tech’s core mission is to provide students across the state access to an education that prepares them for a rewarding career,” said Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech. “With insight from our industry partners, we designed a program that removes financial barriers for students, gives them educational credits for future career development and delivers a work-ready workforce for trucking companies. This is both a huge step forward for Hoosiers who want a career in the logistics industry and our industry partners who are eager to hire qualified drivers.” 

Venture Logistics is one of several logistics companies that lent insights and expertise to the development of the curriculum, and is commited to ensuring the success of students who earn a CDL+ certificate. 

“Venture Logistics’ support of the CDL+ program is another great example of how trucking professionals in the State of Indiana work together to promote programs that create opportunities for Hoosiers,” said Greg Eddy, president of Venture Logistics. “By using best practices from the safest companies in the industry, we have helped create curriculum for men and woman to launch a new career. We are proud to contribute to the advancement of the logistics industry, and we are proud to support the individuals who are the back bone of America’s supply chain.”

The American Trucking Association projects the freight volumes are expected to grow 36% over the next decade. Over that same period, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers to keep up with demand. Additionally, freight movement is a critical component of national supply chains with over 70% of the $650 billion in goods that move through Indiana every day being done so on the state’s highways.

About Conexus Indiana
For more than a decade, Conexus Indiana, one of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) non-profit initiatives, has been positioning the Hoosier State as the best place for advanced manufacturing and logistics industries to invest, employ and succeed. By collaborating with industry, academic and public-sector partners on a shared vision for an innovative, skilled workforce and stronger business climate, Conexus Indiana has helped to create opportunities for advanced manufacturing and logistics companies, prepare Hoosiers to succeed in the state’s largest industry sectors and maintain Indiana’s competitive advantage. For more information, go to www.ConexusIndiana.com.

About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degree and short-term certificate programs, and trainings that align to the needs of the community. The College also offers courses and associate degree programs that seamlessly transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a Bachelor’s degree. 

About the Indiana Motor Truck Association
The Indiana Motor Truck Association is a highly respected association that strives to serve, represent and promote the interests of the trucking industry by enhancing its image, efficiency and productivity through its focus on safety and advocacy.  Founded in 1934, the IMTA has continuously offered safety programs through its Safety & Maintenance Council, including distracted driving education, advocacy at both the state and federal levels, networking opportunities and free consultation for its members.  For additional information, visit www.intrucking.org

Ivy Tech Community College President Joins Presidents Forum Governing Board

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Dr. Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College, has joined the Presidents Forum Governing Board, an organization composed of presidents of higher education institutions, foundations, and academic support organizations that are dedicated to the continuous reinvention of higher education.

The Presidents Forum is an association of 17 college and university presidents and chancellors representing 3 million students. The nonprofit facilitates innovative projects leading to the adoption of ideas, practices, and actions to transform higher education. Currently, the Presidents Forum is conducting a series of collaborative meetings with higher education institutions and stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities of developing an agile and resilient workforce for the future of work – with a focus on those with the greatest need.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Governing Board,” said Ellspermann. “The opportunity for the Presidents Forum to advocate for and model innovation in higher education for the benefit of Americans, employers, and our nation is immense. I look forward to adding value to this incredibly talented team.”

About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degree and short-term certificate programs, and trainings that align to the needs of the community. The College also offers courses and associate degree programs that seamlessly transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a Bachelor’s degree. 

About the Presidents Forum
The Presidents Forum was established in 2002 as a collaborative convening body of accredited institutions and national organizations that embrace the power and potential to serve 21st-century students. The Presidents Forum advances innovative practice and excellence by convening institutions’ leaders and stakeholders to share their knowledge, learn from others’ best practices, and frame recommendations for national policy. While historically Forum members have primarily been institutions serving adult learners, membership now reflects the full spectrum of higher education institutions, especially as technology transforms access and quality of post-secondary education.

Ivy Tech Students Place Second in National Cybersecurity Competition

VALPARAISO – Two students from Ivy Tech Community College’s Valparaiso campus, Raymond Cales and Eileen Peden, achieved second place at the 2020 U.S. Cyber Challenge National Cyber Bowl earlier this month.

Raymond Cales
Eileen Peden

The event, hosted by the Center for Internet Security, was one of the many events nationwide marking National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which takes place every October, is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure all Americans have the resources they need to be safe and secure online.

“Through Professor Rami Salahieh’s undivided attention and dedication to his students, our Cybersecurity program in Valparaiso has become one of the best in the country,” Aco Sikoski, chancellor of Ivy Tech Valparaiso, said. “We are very grateful for his efforts that so clearly impact his students, who work hard throughout the year to participate in competitions like these.”

The Ivy Tech students were recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Information Officer, Karen Evans, at the AFFIRM/USCC 7th Annual Cybersecurity Summit Oct. 9.

Cales and Peden competed under the team name “Ctrl+alt+31337,” which is code for Control Alt Elite. Together they competed for 30 hours nonstop in capture the flag missions within various categories such as network analysis, cryptography, and reverse engineering. Two other Ivy Tech students also competed on a separate team.

“It felt great to be considered the best of the best,” Peden said. “The skills that you gained along the way definitely help you in future competitions and it improves your skill set.”

Cales and Peden were also recognized at a virtual Ivy Tech gathering on Oct. 16 where they were presented with certificates of achievement by Chancellor Sikoski and Professor Salahieh. Dr. Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech, also attended virtually to congratulate the students on their achievement.

“I’d just like to say thank you,” Cales said. “This is an incredible honor, and I’m thrilled to be able to bring something like this back to Ivy Tech.”

The students have been competing to participate in this Cyber Bowl event for more than a year. “In fall 2019 and spring 2020, you had to participate in the USCC challenge, where at least 10,000 others from all over the U.S. also competed to be in the Top 100,” Peden said. Those in the top 100 who were successful were invited to attend the cyber boot camp to train for the Cyber Bowl and participate in a job fair.

“Once Ivy Tech’s cyber security students graduate, they are able to enter into jobs like cybersecurity technicians, analysts or investigators in top national security industries such as Deloitte,” said Rami Salahieh, chair of Ivy Tech’s cybersecurity program. “Our students’ resumes also are received at the Department of Homeland Security for opportunities to apply for cybersecurity jobs there.” 

Cales expressed how he hopes to one day work in the aerospace industry. “NASA is kind of the big goal for me,” said Cales.

Peden, who is the chair of Women in Cybersecurity Valpo Chapter at Ivy Tech, plans to graduate next summer with degrees in Cybersecurity and Networking. “My hope is to pursue a career dealing with cyber warfare, cyberterrorism or to help prevent kids from disappearing due to child trafficking,” Peden said. “Women seem to be intimidated by a predominantly male career field. My advice to those women with an interest is to pursue it. Cybersecurity needs viewpoints and ideas not only from men but from women also. You are never too old to start another career despite what some may tell you.”

To learn more about Ivy Tech’s Cybersecurity program, visit ivytech.edu/cyber-security. More classes begin at Ivy Tech this January and will be offered face-to-face and virtually.

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Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.