Faculty & Staff

ICC Teaming Up with Local Manufacturers, High School Students to Rebuild Washington Miniature Golf Course Devastated by Tornado

The idea is to make Hillcrest Golf Center in Washington, Ill., even better than before its buildings and course took a direct hit on November 17, 2013, when an F4 tornado devastated the surrounding communities.

“Think Rube Goldberg. Think goofy fun,” said Michael Sloan, Illinois Central College Dean of Agriculture and Industrial Technology and member of the Strategic Manufacturing Group (SMG).

The goal of the collaborative project involving Hillcrest Mini-Golf owner Brian Brubaker, SMG, the high schools and Illinois Central College is to turn the devastation into a unique learning and service project opportunity for local high school and ICC students. Through their collaborative efforts, the group hopes to bring in a total of 11 local high school teams, each assigned to submit a design proposal for rebuilding one of the holes in a fun and innovative way.

“We want this project to be engineered with smart and fun and crazy in mind,” Sloan said. “It’s really a win-win situation to have local students teaming up with professionals and ICC students who can guide the projects and do something positive for the local community.”

Brubaker said Hillcrest Golf Center and the mini-golf opened in 1958 and has long been a gathering spot for golfers of all ages. After the tornado, things looked bleak.

“Every fixture was gone. The steel light towers were ripped away. On the mini-golf, the carpeting was torn right off of some of the pads. Trees and large debris fell on the pads and broke them. All of the trees and landscaping are gone,” Brubaker said.

So far, a total of eight high schools are committed, and they are currently working on designs for Brubaker to approve.

The student teams will pair up in January 2015 with the professionals from the Strategic Manufacturing Group, a coalition of local manufacturers, secondary and post-secondary educational organizations and economic and workforce organizations. High schools and their business partners will fabricate their designs in their schools labs or head to ICC’s fabrication labs where students in the College’s welding technician and machinist programs will assist in the production process. The goal is to have each school’s creation installed in May, prior to the end of the school year. A grand re-opening of the course is tentatively set for June 2015.

“This project is a fantastic idea and a huge help,” says owner Brubaker. “Little and big kids like to play here. This will do a lot to help us get back on our feet.”

For more information or if your high school is interested in forming a team, please contact Michael Sloan at (309) 694 –5512 or Cathy Lane at (309) 264-1423.