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The Experiential Learning Center (ELC) creates unique real world educational experiences for Northern Illinois University students and provides valuable research, fresh ideas, and recommendations to sponsoring organizations. Since 2000, the ELC successfully completed 138 projects for 74 unique sponsors.
Successful ELC projects result from the following:
Students apply to be on an ELC team and are hand picked by the coach. Coaches keep the teams on track and serve as guides. Student teams learn by working through ambiguous situations.
Sponsoring organizations pay a project fee to the ELC. In turn, project teams are expected to provide sponsors with a return on their investment.
With each project, the students take on the role of a consultant. Project management, communication, presentation, team building, leadership, and technical skills are developed throughout the project experience. With these valuable skills, students are prepared to step into the business world feeling confident and knowledgeable.
Teams meet in the dedicated ELC facility on the third floor of Barsema Hall two times each week. Meetings usually last one and a half hours. Each team follows a project management methodology throughout the semester. Research and the development of key project deliverables generally require 3 to 10 hours of outside work. A final presentation to the sponsoring organization brings closure to the project. At this time, the student team is expected to deliver value to the sponsoring organization. There are no syllabi, quizzes, or exams. Final grades are determined by the coach and are dependent on the completion of key project deliverables.
Teams include a mix of five to eight graduate and undergraduate students. Students are chosen based on their competency in business, technology, and communication skills, their ability to contribute as team members, their ability to work in an unstructured environment, and their willingness and desire to learn in such an environment. In addition, UBUS 310 should have been successfully completed for College of Business students. For non-College of Business students, Junior standing is required. College of Business and other NIU students are recruited the semester before a project is scheduled and go through a selection process similar to being hired for a position of employment. No student is invited (or not invited) based on his or her gender, race, religious beliefs, sexual preference, or nation of origin.
To apply, students must complete an online application which includes a cover letter and resume. Students may apply for one or more projects. If selected, formal interviews are scheduled with the project coaches. Team members are chosen by the project coaches and all applicants are notified before the end of the semester.