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Steve Kelley, Drafting + 3D Design Instructor

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4b4c81040dfa8 Stephen Kelley ~always delighted to be around the students.
Stephen Kelley ~always delighted to be around the students.

Putting Personal Experiences To Work for Students

According to Mr. Steve Kelley, joining the faculty at the Kankakee Area Career Center (KACC) "has been a blessing."  His background in the architectural field, his interest in teaching and working with other design professionals allowed him to utilize computer aided drafting/design in ways which make learning a true creative adventure. 

In the time he has been at KACC, his program has flourished.  He began as a part-time instructor teaching Drafting/CAD - now Drafting +3D Design is a full-time program with a much more encompassing curriculum.  The focus of the program has shifted dramatically.  Mr. Kelley states "The T Square and Manual Drafting are being updated with advances in 3D modeling software to create drawings and 3D prints of physical objects."  Mr. Kelley talks about how rewarding it is to see a design actually created with these new 3D printers right - within his classroom.  There is a full year of the program which focuses on AutoCAD.  SOLIDWORKS software is the focus of the corresponding year.  

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As a child in nursery school, Mr. Kelley says that he loved building unusual looking forts out of wooden blocks similar to large Legos. Years later, he says he discovered this was also Frank Lloyd Wright’s first exposure to building and Architecture. Mr. Wright also enjoyed building forts, tree houses, and igloos. Mr. Kelley says he spent more time than most kids studying ways to make his little projects better and cooler-looking. From the very beginning, he used creative, hands-on learning - just like Career and Technical Education courses!

In high school, he was an average student, not too sure about what he wanted to study in college. Mr. Kelley shared that one of the things which first attracted him to Architecture was the need for someone to know a little bit about a lot of different things – Math, Art, Science, and Technology – and then put this vast array of knowledge into attractive and functional designs.

Learning about architecture was very different from the typical classroom experience. It was full of creative expression, but was also very intellectually challenging. When he first started his training, he bought a T Square for drafting.  He was taught creative problem-solving processes which involved taking a set of needs and requirements and, through sketching and drafting, giving those design ideas a final form.

Mr. Kelley’s architectural education was through the University of Illinois in Champaign. He graduated in 1989, and became a licensed Architect in 1991. Mr. Kelley has designed everything from garages to houses, offices, and schools. His favorite design projects are those involving homes and schools. He found houses appealing because he enjoyed personalizing his designs to each family, and was able to work more closely with the contractor. According to Mr. Kelley, being involved in the making of new buildings designed to make teachers’ jobs easier and a more enjoyable environment for the students was what made designing schools so gratifying.  His largest project was a new 180,000 square foot, 19-million dollar high school with a 1000 seat theater in Ohio.

Because of Mr. Kelley’s own experiences with architecture, which challenged him creatively and intellectually, he thought it might be a good idea to share his knowledge by developing architectural classes.  He has been offering after school courses and summer courses since the early 1990’s and continues to do so to this day.  Some of these courses are designed for at-risk students.  Most of his students, he says, are “very enthusiastic, to the point of asking me for homework!”

Within a few years, the satisfaction Mr. Kelley felt by impacting lives through teaching, led him to the Kankakee Area Career Center.  With him, Mr. Kelley brings his students experience in the field of Architecture, creative problem-solving skills and a variety of design processes, and with good results.  Mr. Kelley utilizes SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD as tools for the process. Mr. Kelley’s classroom curriculum mirrors that of college level.  In fact, students in his class have opportunities to earn dual credit from Kankakee Community College or Prairie State College, depending on their place of residence.

The Drafting + 3D Design program at KACC gives students the opportunity to learn a mix of fundamental skills.  They then apply these skills both as an individual and as a team-member on projects utilizing the same hands-on learning process which, “…got me excited about learning architecture so many years ago.” 

Having started at the Career Center in 2008, Mr. Kelley now says of his experience “What blessing to work with these young people and give them a new way to look at learning. We are truly lucky to have a Career Center in Kankakee County, where our students are allowed an opportunity to explore their interests in new and unique ways as a part of their high school experience!”


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Kankakee Area Career Center4083 N 1000 W Road

PO Box 570Bourbonnais, IL 60914

815-939-4971Fax: 815-939-7598

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