New technology program at Danville Correctional Center helping fill employment gaps

DANVILLE, Ill., (WCIA) — A new program at the Danville Correctional Center (DCC) is introducing some inmates to theory, book work and lots of hands-on learning.

It is part of a new field called “mechatronics”. It combines the skills required to work on machines.

Prisoners at the correctional center are in a new class. It is the first of its kind in Illinois.

The program is helping people find jobs. Many people at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and Danville Area Community College (DACC) said getting hands-on experience now will open doors for careers later.

Stephen Nacco, president of DACC, said he knew there was a huge need in the product. He believes this new class will push inmates to reach their potential.

“These students will have a competency that is in high demand in our region,” Nacco said.

DACC hosts many professional programs at the correctional center. Shane Moncrieff, instructor, teaches the newest class on his list.

“It’s going to be maintenance and automation mechanics or the mechanical industry,” Moncrief said. “Basically, we’re going to teach students how to work on an automation line, how to work on CNC machinery.”

He teaches 11 inmates every day. Thomas Stromblad is one of them. He said he signed up to make a difference.

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“I thought it would be a good idea to learn about windmills with some of the things we’re learning,” Stromblad said. “It’s probably a way for me to give back to the community and get out there to make things a little bit greener for my family and the people in my neighborhood.”

The experience they are getting now will help fill open positions later. Duwayne Owens, IDOC commercial coordinator, said companies are looking for hire.

“We know employers want the people we have once they get out,” Owens said.

It’s a need he feels will never go away.

“That’s what’s going on in our society today, high-end, high-tech,” Owens added.

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Stromblad said he wouldn’t have a chance without this class.

Moncrief said it was life-changing.

“I just can’t wait for these guys to get out of this classroom and be able to get out into life; To be able to work and to be able to enjoy what they do,” he said.

At the end of 150 sessions, students get a certificate in Mechatronics from DACC. It Scientific Management Techniques, Inc. (SMT), will also get a certificate from an international training institute in the field of mechatronics.

Naco said DACC plans to add CDL and advanced technology classes in the future.


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