‘It Caters to the Experience of the Students’: Illinois Tech's Elevate Program Propels Student Success


Keysight Innovation Challenge team and prototype


Voiceover: Illinois Tech's Elevate program is a unique experience that you get outside of the regular curriculum through guaranteed hands-on experiences, personalized mentorship, and overall career readiness.

Jonathan Sorg (ME/M.A.S. EMGT 4th Year): Elevate has really been influential for me because Elevate really adheres to my strong suits.

Marilyn Flowers (ITM 4th Year): It caters to the experience of the students.

Chloe Rubinowicz (EE, M.S. EE 5th Year): You can go to any institution and you can walk into a lecture hall, you can listen to a professor speak, you can come into a lab, but what we have here is so unique.  

Sorg: You can really see how what you learn in a classroom setting is applied.

Rubinowicz: I learned to work with a team and I learned to work with people, and how to lead by example and I wouldn't have gotten that anywhere else.

Ryan Manthy (CS 3rd Year): Interning at such a young age really helped me in terms of preparing me for a career.

Sorg: My junior year I had an internship at Argonne National Lab. I was developing a rating method for fuels for combustion engine compression ignition.

Prince Hodonou (CS ’21): I had a software engineering internship at BMW, and the position there was for a mobile app developer, and then turned into a part-time job as I went to IIT. Having a BMW internship did help me with interviews because I was able to talk about my experience.

Manthy: Through Elevate, I was able to get a lot of exposure to policy, a lot of exposure to leadership, a lot of exposure to soft skills that are really instrumental for being successful in any workplace.

Flowers: Scarlet Data Studio is a six-week internship program for software engineers, or those who are interested in being software engineers.

Vinesh Kanaan (CS ’19): In Scarlet Data Studio we build real-world projects and we bring students on paid internships to work with alumni mentors and contribute real features to a code base that we deploy in production. This gives them the experience that they would get from working on real-world software engineering projects and augments the things they're learning in their courses and exploring outside of classwork. 

Flowers: He would come and review the code that I've done for the week, and he would give me feedback to show me how I could improve my technical skills.

Sorg: I've been involved in two big organizations or competition teams at this school: EcoCar and Hyperloop.

Jonte’ Williams (ASPY, PHYS 4th Year): You know, when you're a kid, you start dreaming about like what you want to do in the future. Hyperloop, for me, was like the first step into that. You get to see a project get developed from start to finish. It's great on like a personal level and also on like a childhood dream level.

Rubinowicz: I've done team projects, but I've never done a global competition, and it was something new and it definitely helped me gain a lot of insight, I'd say, into the real working world. The concept was helping the UN achieve their goal of net zero carbon by 2050. And we thought carbon—most people think what's in the air. We wanted to mix it up and so we went to the ground, hence the Tree of Life. Our main purpose is to provide carbon emissions monitoring with a comprehensive solution to achieve carbon neutrality. We won $30,000 to split across the team.

Competition host: Congratulations, come on up front here. The Keysight Innovation Challenge 2022 $30,000 grand prize.

Flowers: These past four years, there's been so many opportunities. When you feel like you want to give up, when you feel like you can't do it, you have people there who are like, ‘Yes, you can. You're here at Illinois Tech for a reason. These resources are here for you. If you need anything, we're here to help you through and to make sure that you're passionate about what you're doing.’

Rubinowicz: And I wouldn't have a job lined up, I wouldn't have all these opportunities, without Elevate.

Kanaan: Elevate is important to the students because it acknowledges that coursework is necessary, but not sufficient to become a young technology leader. You have to take the knowledge that you learned from your coursework and then apply it in different areas, whether it's research, internships, entrepreneurship.

Rubinowicz: Elevate, and I believe that Illinois Tech, has fully prepared me to go into the real world.

Sorg: The Elevate program has definitely been an exponential ramp for my professional, as well as personal, growth, and it's really allowed me to obtain experiences to be the best engineer that I can be and the best project manager that I can be in the future.

Flowers: Sometimes we don't know what we want yet. Elevate can help guide us in that direction.