Ivy Tech allows engineering student to go “all in”

When Blaine Wilken commits to something, he really commits.

That was true of his service in the United States Coast Guard and it’s true in his work as a controls engineer at Bastian Solutions, a systems integrator and engineering firm in Carmel. And it was certainly true of how he approached academics as an Ivy Tech Community College student.

After two active duty tours with the Coast Guard, Wilken decided to return home to Indiana. It had been 14 years since he’d taken a college class, but he decided to move forward–quickly. He took advantage of grants, including the Post 9/11 GI bill and Indiana Frank O’Bannon Grant,
while earning 19 credits in his first semester–significantly more than the 12-15 earned by most
full-time Ivy Tech students.

Blaine Wilken

“I had my doubts,” Wilken says, “but starting strong gave me the reassurance to confidently
move forward.”

Wilken took some time to consider different career paths, drawing on his prior experience as an
electrician, in maintenance, and as a Chief Petty Officer and Senior Enlisted Reserve Advisor.

He soon found a great option, however, in Ivy Tech’s School of Advanced Manufacturing,
Engineering and Applied Science.

“I had no idea what degree I wanted to pursue,” Wilken explains, “but within my first semester,
research and guidance led me to pursue the electrical engineering technology program.”

The Wilken family, clockwise from upper left: Cora Leigh, Blaine, Tara, and Liam

Wilken was drawn to the program due to its career relevance and the fact it embedded a Technical Certificate in Electronics and Computer Technology. Most importantly, the associate degree program allowed Wilken to transfer his credits and continue on toward a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology, which he earned at IUPUI. For Wilken, the transfer
option was the ideal match to his needs.

“Ivy Tech was a great reintroduction to college with small class sizes and a very professional
and approachable staff,” he says. “This was very important to my preparation to move to IUPUI,
as well as help to build a solid foundation of study skills and routines to my success as a college

While Wilken acknowledges the efforts of many Ivy Tech staff and faculty members, he
especially appreciated Mark Atkins, program chair of electrical engineering technology at the
Indianapolis campus.

“Mark’s professional guidance was a key factor in assuring me I made the right choice to move
forward with the program,” Wilken says, “Mark is a great professor, and always gave his time to
help me grasp concepts I struggled with–which happened often.”

Now that Wilken has achieved his goal of earning a position in engineering, he encourages
others to consider starting at Ivy Tech–and then, as he did, going all in.

“I can honestly say that without beginning at Ivy Tech,” he says, “I am not sure it would have
been able to stay on this path so seamlessly.”

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