Engineering students in class

North Central’s relationship with local industry creates opportunities in the Chicago area

May 11, 2018

North Central College will welcome its inaugural engineering cohort in the fall of 2018! Many years of hard work have made the new engineering programs at this liberal arts college a reality.

North Central has long been an important part of the local community. Since moving to Naperville in 1870, the College has been involved in activities that have enabled many successful businesses to grow and thrive.

In 1886, James Nichols, who ran the Department of Commerce at North Central, published “The Business Guide, or, Safe Methods of Business.” This was an influential book that sold more than four million copies by 1896 and is still reprinted today. Nichols also teamed up with a former student, Peter Kroehler, to establish the Kroehler Manufacturing Company (which was located two blocks north of campus).


North Central and the communities in the surrounding area grew significantly over the next century, becoming home to many high-tech businesses like AT&T, Motorola, Nokia, Molex, and BP. Many of these companies are actively involved with the College and were key to getting the engineering programs off the ground.

Starting a new engineering program is not a small undertaking. The combination of support from local businesses and College trustees along with the vision of North Central’s leaders brought the College’s engineering programs to life. We recruited an Engineering Advisory Board, composed of industry experts who provide guidance on program development and student experiences. The Board helps to elevate the next generation of engineering leaders. Members of the Advisory Board include:

  • U.S. Armed Forces
  • World’s leading steel and mining company
  • Leading manufacturer of automation components, equipment and systems
  • German-based global leader in the connector industry
  • Global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies
  • Largest wind turbine manufacturer globally
  • Multinational chemical and biotechnology corporation
  • Major oil and gas company
  • Leading software company for the Industrial Internet
  • Leading communications infrastructure manufacturer
  • Worldwide manufacturer of electronic, electrical and fiber optic interconnection systems
  • Intellectual property law firm

Marketing studies, financial analyses, architectural and facilities planning, not to mention accreditation, curricula development and staffing have all been important steps along the way.

North Central is excited to welcome our new engineers in training, and our industry partners are already asking when they can hire some of our students as interns, Co-Ops and graduates.

We meet regularly with our Engineering Advisory Board to make sure they know what we are doing to make North Central’s engineering programs the very best available, anywhere. We also listen carefully to their input to ensure that we are responding to the needs of our partners in the industry. We are proud to continue a great relationship that has endured for more than 150 years.

About the author:

Frank Harwath




Frank Harwath spent over three decades working in industry designing and developing products and processes. As an entrepreneur, he started three companies and ran an independent consulting firm for 13 years. Throughout his career he has accumulated 87 patents and designed products used in high performance computers, graphics hardware, cell phones, fiber optics, and sporting goods.