Kaskaskia College Drafting Program is Rich with History

October 9, 2018

Richard Rittenhouse, Tom Walsh and Rob Jervis.

Richard Rittenhouse, Tom Walsh, and Rob Jervis.

The Kaskaskia College Drafting Program is rich in history.  First launched in 1970, the program is still going strong today.  With only three faculty members overseeing the program in its 48 years of its existence, it continues to remain a viable choice for area students.

Mr. Tom Walsh was hired in 1970 to begin the program when classes were offered at the Manfield Building.  In one large classroom there were approximately twenty-five drafting tables with tops that accommodated drafting boards.  Students used T-squares, triangles, compasses and pencils to complete drawings on paper and or drafting vellum.

Walsh says, “I took my first drafting class in Junior High School in Indiana and I loved it. I continued with drafting in high school and later graduated from Indiana State University in the teaching program.”

In the early 1980’s classes were totally revolutionized with the development of AutoCAD, a computer software program that allowed operators to produce drawings using a “mouse”. 

Richard Rittenhouse was the second professor to lead the Drafting Program at KC under the tutelage of Walsh.  He began taking classes in the fall of 1969 and later continued his education at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  While employed with National Mine Service Company Rittenhouse served on Mr. Walsh’s advisory board for the drafting program.  He later was employed by the College as a drafting instructor at the Centralia Correctional Center for ten years. When Walsh retired, he was offered the opportunity to continue the drafting program that he had brought to life.

The Drafting Technology Program continued as an open entry/flex time program that provided training for students enrolled on campus and at the extension centers. As dual credit expanded between the high schools, as students expanded employment search in district, statewide and nationally and as new products developed resulting in complex designs requiring new manufacturing processes Rittenhouse broke away from the traditional drafter roll. New course offerings included 3-Dimensional Modeling and Virtual Reality Design which also brought new employment opportunities.

Rittenhouse says, “I found unemployed workers returning to school to gain CAD skills and new markets for employment were on the horizon as technology advanced. Employers were seeking Engineers with CAD certificates specialized in architectural, mechanical, civil and electrical combined with a strong background in drafting principles.”

Rittenhouse says of Walsh, “Mr. Walsh was extremely dedicated to education and over the years we have become more then educators, we have become friends that share a common interest in the success of past, present and future Kaskaskia College students.”

Rob Jervis, who is the third professor to take over the program, also studied under Walsh.  Jervis says, “While at Kaskaskia I learned a lot about board drafting and the “newer” AutoCAD which is a computer aided drafting program.  Mr. Walsh had the lab set up similar as it is today allowing the student to complete their coursework on their own schedule.  Today this is referred to as open entry/open exit and allows the student to schedule the lab time required for the course in to openings in their schedule.” 

As a student at KC, Jervis was given the opportunity to be a lab assistant, which was a paid position working for the college watching over the lab and assisting students with homework.  “As a student, I was extremely excited to get an opportunity to help students at the same time have ample time to complete my own work”. 

After graduating KC in 1996, Jervis went on to work at Aviston Lumber drawing/designing house plans locally.  “This with my construction background lead to my love of architecture”, says Jervis.  He worked for a year and six months at Aviston Lumber before moving on to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to pursue an Architectural degree.  He graduated in May 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science in Architectural Studies, was licensed in 2008 and worked in the Architectural industry until December 2015 when he was named the third drafting instructor and the second taught by Mr. Tom Walsh.

Jervis says, “Mr. Walsh gave me opportunities and direction which led me to a successful career as an Architect and now an instructor who will reach out to students and hand down the knowledge and experience I gained from Mr. Walsh”.      

Today the program has gone from the 1970 board drafting model (a lot of paper) to an online assisted/3D model focused drafting lab (virtually paperless).  The software taught at Kaskaskia are AutoCAD, Inventor and Revit with AutoCAD now being the “drafting board’ of 2018 and Inventor/Revit utilizing 3D modeling to achieve the same results as a 2D AutoCAD while achieving consistent coordinate documentation.

Kaskaskia College President, George Evans says of the program, “Many programs go through their ups and downs throughout their academic history, however in this case it is safe to say that the decaying program hasn’t skipped a beat in over 40 years, thanks to these wonderful men.  All of them possess an amazing talent and are all equally committed to the success of their students and KC as a whole.  I am honored to know all three men.”

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