PBN: Dorms next step in NEIT growth

Fantastic story published recently in the Providence Business news about New England Tech’s history and more importantly its future plans.

GROWTH PLAN: New England Institute of Technology President Richard I. Gouse has four decades at the helm of the school. He’s currently overseeing the school’s expansion, which includes both degrees and its physical assets.

GROWTH PLAN: New England Institute of Technology President Richard I. Gouse has four decades at the helm of the school. He’s currently overseeing the school’s expansion, which includes both degrees and its physical assets. PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer

12/1/14

Richard I. Gouse, president of the New England Institute of Technology for the past 43 years, is leading a new phase of growth at the commuter-based school to accommodate residential students.

NEIT has two Warwick campuses, and a third on 226 acres in East Greenwich. It is at the larger campus that plans for a $120 million expansion announced in early October are beginning to unfold.

It’s all a long way from where the school was in 1971, when Gouse and his late father, Julian, revived the failing New England Technical Institute founded by Ernest Earle in 1940.

“When I started in 1971, we were located in an old mill in South Providence,” he said. “It was pretty grim.”

By 1976, Gouse had broadened the mission of the school, turning it into the nonprofit, degree-granting college it is today.

Now, as the school continues to develop programming for more than 3,000 students, plans spanning the next three years will provide more than 300,000 square feet of new facilities, including a first-ever, 400-plus-room, on-campus dormitory, more classroom space, and a greater focus on information technology.

PBN: You’ve been president since 1971, when there were just four programs of study and 70 students. What potential did you see for this school then?

GOUSE: It was obvious that the hands-on technologies were becoming more sophisticated even in 1971, and if we wanted to grow in that direction of training people who were going to be able to perform in the job market, I thought we needed something more. That’s when I thought of making this into a college where the students could get a liberal arts background and get a chance to become a little more sophisticated.

PBN: What do you think a liberal arts or undergraduate degree adds to the technical skills?

GOUSE: As we all can see, technology is moving at the speed of light; things are changing very quickly. In order to be successful, you have to be able to grow and develop in your profession. And a liberal arts degree, which teaches a student to research, to grow, has become essential.

PBN: Where are you attracting students from?

GOUSE: Well, it’s a commuting school. That’s good and it also has its limitations. What we’re doing is addressing the limitations.

Right now, we’re [attracting] Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island [students]. We’re getting a lot more interest than we ever did before from outside of the state, even foreign countries, because of the uniqueness of some of the programs that we offer. And that really has moved us into that expansion mode.

The only way this school can expand, given the demographics of the immediate area, is to attract people from outside the immediate area.

We have a growing, older demographic in Rhode Island, we have declining [numbers of] high school graduates in Rhode Island and we have no growth in population. So if you want to stay at 2,900 or 3,000 students, we probably could, but if we want to expand and grow, it’s going to have to be from outside the immediate area. And that’s why we’re [adding] housing.

PBN: How will the relationship between the East Greenwich and two Warwick campuses evolve as you undergo this $120 million expansion?

GOUSE: This all began in 2007. We started planning for this development, and our initial thoughts were that we would bring everything to this campus.

PBN: Obviously, you didn’t build this building [on the East Greenwich campus], Brooks Pharmacy did, but did you have plans before that?

GOUSE: We were planning on locating a campus. We were in Warwick; that was fine for what we thought we were doing at that point, but when it came to a thought of expanding, we were landlocked.

One of the main parts of our planning back then was the ability to sell the Post Road campus. What happened in 2008 is, the real estate market fell apart, and our ability to sell became limited.

So, we kind of crept back into that Post Road facility. Eventually, we’d like to be all on one campus, but economically, the right thing to do is to still use that facility. And the square footage we have there now we need; we’re using it.

PBN: You’ve talked about expansion as an idea; how does it fit into your long-range plan?

GOUSE: The whole expansion plan is really a move toward allowing the students to have the more traditional college experience, as well as still concentrating on the commuting student. This changes the student’s experience entirely. It will allow for extracurricular athletics on campus, the living experience. Hopefully, it will appeal to a whole new group of people – although our students that are presently commuting are also very enthusiastic about this kind of development. I think they would really appreciate the identification of this school in the general public as being a true university.

PBN: How much housing are you building?

GOUSE: There are two stages, the first with 400 beds. And we’re presently housing through a cooperative effort with our housing coordinator off campus.

PBN: Besides attracting out-of-state and foreign students, are there other rationales for expanding now?

GOUSE: Just the addition of other programs that we think would be really valuable. We’re constantly in touch with the employers in this area. We have an extensive technical advisory committee [of] 300 people. We want to hear from them about new programs and what changes we need in existing programs.

PBN: What’s the time frame for the expansion?

GOUSE: [For] the first part of it, there’s going to be an expansion in this building that’s going to occur in the spring. [But] because the 220 acres needs roadways, we have wetlands that we’ve got provision to cross, so we have to bridge the wetlands, we have to bring in sewer, water and electricity. That’s a $4 million job that’s being done right now. That will enable future expansion. And there’s a $15 million addition to this building that is going to begin in the spring. Sometime in the fall of 2015, there’ll be [construction of] the dormitories, which are supposed to be ready in the fall of 2017.

PBN: How important is it to try and stylistically match what you have here?

GOUSE: Very important. You do want a lasting, appealing campus and that’s where we’re headed. The architecture is critical to tie it all together – not necessarily have it look all the same, but have a feel that it all belongs together. While you were right in remembering this building being Brooks, what happened was Rite-Aid bought Brooks in 2007. This building had been built with a shell inside that really wasn’t a finished interior.

PBN: You’re expanding offerings in information technology, advanced manufacturing, sciences, architecture, engineering, video and audio production. What is demand like?

GOUSE: Rhode Island’s an interesting place, OK? We talk about a skills gap, but what we really do need is more high-tech jobs.

During the recession it was actually challenging for our kids even in IT to find the jobs they were looking for in Rhode Island. We would like to see more good jobs coming into Rhode Island, and hopefully there will be.

Right now, [more than] 90 percent of our students seeking jobs are getting jobs within a short time after they graduate – in fact most of them before they graduate – but I would like to see more good companies coming into Rhode Island, more employment possibilities. I think that’s really very important.

But if we expand into housing, we will be getting students from outside this area. And then it becomes more of a function of what the employability is for where they’re going to be going. The biggest problem here isn’t that the colleges aren’t providing enough talent for the local business community. The biggest challenge here is to have more opportunities for these students.

PBN: You have a new online RN-to-BSN program: Do you plan more online programming? Or is this designed to fill an unmet need?

GOUSE: Let’s talk about the RN-to-BSN program first. The field of nursing is moving away from associate degree-level nurses. They’re really looking to have a more sophisticated, better-trained level of nursing, and that’s where the BSN comes in. The hospitals are asking nurses to get to this level. [The program] received accreditation less than a year ago. The tuition rate is far lower than an on-campus program; it offers a lot for those people looking to make that move.

In general, it really benefits the students to come here and have an on-the-job-type environment, working with the actual equipment. For audio-video production, we have two HD television studios; it’s very hard to teach that on the Internet.

But we [also] offer a hybrid program where the students can come here on a more flexible schedule and actually get the lab experience, that hands-on job environment training, but then take a lot of their courses on a distance-learning basis.

PBN: How are you financing the expansion?

GOUSE: The school has not to this point done a real lot of borrowing. I think we have outstanding about $49 million for this building and the other campuses. And by the time this expansion happens, we hope our endowment will be in the neighborhood of $200 million. Between bonding and our endowment, we will at least be able to fund this portion of our expansion.

PBN: Will there be an impact on tuition?

GOUSE: No.

PBN: Any plans to expand master’s degrees?

GOUSE: We’ve just received approval for our third master’s degree. It’s in construction management. And … the New England Association [of Schools and Colleges], our accrediting body, they require you to apply for the first, second and third master’s degree. After that, you can apply to be exempted from making further applications. So, that’s what we plan on doing a year from now. The construction-management degree will be offered in the spring.

PBN: So how long did it take you to design this program?

GOUSE: It probably took a year.

STEVE KITCHIN: [NEIT’s vice president of corporate education and training]: About 22 years ago the hospital association said, ‘Look, things are changing in the operating room; we don’t need two nurses; we only need one.’ Within the time that we had that conversation with the hospitals [to create surgical technology programming]: we had labs built, curriculum developed, we had staff hired – within six months.

If we’re not keeping our ears to the ground about the demand side of the labor market, we’re not doing our job here. Everything we’re doing here is based on demand-side economics and preparing our kids to meet that demand. Richard has built an environment here where we all feel very entrepreneurial.

PBN: So you’ve been here 43 years. What more do you envision for the school … and the expansion?

GOUSE: It probably will take me the next 43 years! There’s a lot of things to be done. And that [rendering of the campus layout] is a 50-year plan. If you’re going to have a true college experience, you’re going to have to have all of the things that the kids want and dormitories alone won’t do that. You’re going to have to have an athletic program; a more aggressive extracurricular program.

PBN: Now, you don’t have another 43 years to complete the vision, but have you thought about succession planning?

GOUSE: I do believe the best kind of succession program is when you develop talent within the organization. I’m not a tremendous fan of doing a nationwide search for people who look like they’d be the right fit – especially when you have a unique culture, which we do have here.

So, we have a number of people here who are hopefully moving up and I think they all buy into the kind of culture that we have here, which is important. That’s where I hope we’ll find the talent for the future. •

Visit the Providence Business for more info

Annette Niemczyk, A “Woman to Watch”

Annette Niemczyk

Annette Niemczyk

NEIT graduate, Annette Niemczyk, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems Technology, Networking Concentration, in September, 2004, and an Associate in Science degree in Computer Servicing Technology in March, 2003. Since that time, Annette has worked at Envision Technology Advisors in Pawtucket, RI, for 11 years.

Her hard work and dedication to the field of Information Technology was recently recognized by Providence Business News (PBN). Annette was nominated by the CEO of her company, Todd Knapp. She was named a “Woman to Watch” in the Technical Services category of this year’s Business Women Awards program from PBN. Annette joins 11 other award winners and 12 Achievement Honorees for 2014. As she stated, “I am honored to have been selected for this award. Technology has always been one of my passions, and it has been an amazing and rewarding experience climbing the ladder both technically and professionally with Envision.” 

Because of her commitment to excellence, Annette is reaping many rewards. She now shares her story with Tech News readers. 

What made you decide to attend NEIT? 

When I was first deciding on a career path, I was interested in Information Technology (IT) and athletics but knew that IT would be a better long term option. I had completed my freshman year at UMass Dartmouth. I was two weeks away from starting my sophomore year and decided that the IT program at UMass didn’t offer the courses I really wanted. I heard about New England Tech and quickly realized that its IT program was more focused in the areas I wanted to pursue, which is networking and infrastructure.  I was impressed with the hands-on approach to learning as well.  Because of the October start, the timing worked out perfectly for me.   

How did you choose your program? 

I was always interested in computers growing up, especially the physical characteristics. New England Tech’s networking program was very specific for what I wanted to do as a career. 

What did you do to get started with your career? 

One of my professors knew the owner of Envision Technology Advisors. During my last year at New England Tech, Envision was looking for interns, and my name came up. I worked as an intern from August, 2003 to September, 2004, at which time I graduated from NEIT.  I got my business cards and was asked to come on full-time as an engineer!  Internships are so important for students to get their careers going.  Seeing the day-to-day operations of a company are so valuable.

Tell us about your position. 

The company was growing quickly and because of my work ethic, I was promoted from Engineer to Senior Engineer within two years. In my current position as Senior Engineer, I provide IT services in the areas of infrastructure, security, networking, and virtualization. I work with two types of clients. First, I work with clients on their day-to-day operations, which involves consulting and helping them build their business from a technical aspect. These duties may include hands-on work or depending on the size of the company, I may be consulting with the IT Department developing its strategy. For the second type of client, I work as an engineer executing high level projects from start to finish.  

What do you feel ultimately prepared you for your position? 

My internship at Envision was the key to my success. It bridged the gap from book knowledge to real world experience. My classes were good, especially those that were hands-on. The hands-on classes really sparked my interest and made it stick! 

Do you have any advice for graduates who are just beginning their job search? 

My biggest piece of advice is to be hungry to learn. That motivation and drive you need to get through the learning process at the entry level will get you to the next level.  You have to be willing to put in the effort upfront to get what you want in the end.  You have to earn where you want to go. It just doesn’t happen. 

What can current students do to better prepare themselves for jobs in this field?

Get out and look for internships. Look for industry exposure.  That is the biggest thing a student can do. All the certifications are great, but getting practical real world exposure is what counts.

Five Questions With: NEIT Alum Nick Kishfy

“THERE’S A certain camaraderie that working together in a high-risk endeavor tends to bring out in people,” said Nick Kishfy, co-founder of Warren-based Mojo Tech.

From PBN.com

The Mojo Tech co-founder talks about the Warren company and how it resembles a startup.

PBN: What do you do at Mojo Tech?

KISHFY: We focus mainly on creating Web applications using Ruby on Rails, although we also develop software for the iPhone. Web applications are different from websites and blogs in that they require custom development and can’t be built using off-the-shelf solutions. The software that we build is often labeled “Web 2.0” because it relies on relatively new Internet technologies, which enable Web applications to do much more than was possible even a few years ago. We produce many applications for entrepreneurs and startups, but we also work with nonprofits and larger companies when their in-house teams need a boost or lack the right expertise.

PBN: Are your employees and clients concentrated in Rhode Island, or spread out?

KISHFY: Our core development team is here in Rhode Island, and we prefer to hire locally. (In fact, we’re looking for a Rhode Island-based junior Rails developer now.) It’s not easy to find great engineers locally, so we also have a few remote employees. Prior to starting Mojo Tech, I managed globally distributed development teams for a few startups, and that experience has really helped us grow the company to include off-site employees and avoid many of the communications and efficiency issues associated with a distributed team.

Our clients are spread out all over the world. We’re currently working on projects for companies in Rhode Island as well as San Francisco, New York, Boston and Pisa, Italy. Working simultaneously on projects for clients on the West Coast and in Europe can make for some long days, but we enjoy the challenge.

PBN: Can you tell me about some of those projects?

Click the link to continue reading Five Questions With: Nick Kishfy – Providence Business News.

PBN names 2014 Business Women class

Congratulations to New England Tech Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems (currently named Information Technology) Alum, Annette Niemczk on being named 2014 Business Woman to Watch in the Technical Services category by the Providence Business News.

From Providence Business News:

pbj business women award 2014PROVIDENCE – An innovator and leader in the health care industry as well as a long-time executive at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center have been chosen as the top two honorees in the seventh annual Providence Business News Business Women Awards program.

Joan L. Kwiatkowski, the CEO of CareLink and PACE of Rhode Island, is set to receive the award for career achievement, while Marie E. Bussiere, the combat systems department head at NUWC at Naval Station Newport will be honored as outstanding mentor.

Twelve other women were named either industry leaders or “women to watch” in six industry categories as well. In addition, the Business Women Achievement Honorees who have been profiled throughout the last year in the pages of PBN will be recognized at the Business Women Awards luncheon, to be held Thursday, May 29, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Providence Marriott Downtown.

The 2014 winners by category are:

Technical Services – Woman to Watch: Annette Niemczyk, senior engineer, Envision Technology Advisors LLC

For the complete list of 2014 winners click here: PBN names 2014 Business Women class – Providence Business News.