News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

For Immediate Release (02-27)
Date: May 24, 2002 
Contact: Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970; Pager: 301-930-0972
               Steve Simon, 240-567-7952; Pager: 301-930-3880

Montgomery College’s TechLEAP Welcomes New Students
Program Readies Adults for Information Technology Careers

            Just two years ago, John Zidar decided he was ready for a new career.  Being a musician was nice; he was working full-time in his own business, playing percussion and teaching, but it wasn’t getting him where he wanted to be. 

Zidar decided that technology might be a way to fulfill his aspirations.  In the course of information gathering, he discovered TechLEAP, the award-winning Montgomery College program that retrains workers for entry into the information technology field.

Soon, Zidar was immersed in the rigors of TechLEAP, which he found a significant challenge.  “Going back to school, especially in this program, was demanding,” he said recently.  But individual attention from TechLEAP instructors helped him succeed and less than a year after his decision to change careers, Zidar completed the program.

As the next step of TechLEAP, Zidar moved along to an internship at Metrix Technologies in Gaithersburg.  Now a full-time Metrix employee, Zidar works with the U.S. Coast Guard on digitized operations manuals for seagoing vessels.

He sums up the TechLEAP experience in two words: “intellectually stimulating.”

Metrix President Eileen Cavanagh says she is sold on the TechLEAP program, so much so she also has placed new graduate Rani Taylor, a former accountant, in an internship position.  “Because they’ve had other careers,” says Cavanaugh, “they (TechLEAP grads) know how to step right in and roll with the punches.”

Director Raymond Kimball says other TechLEAP interns recently have been placed with the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  

Despite the bursting of the dot-com bubble, national labor statistics continue to show growth in the information technology industry.  It remains the economy’s largest employer and should be for the foreseeable future.

 “Guess what?” says Kimball, “there still is a robust market out there for qualified entry-level employees.”

TechLEAP, or Technology Leading Edge Apprenticeship Program, was created by Montgomery College’s Information Technology Institute to address the region’s work force development needs, specifically retraining workers wishing to leap into information technology from other careers.  The program, which involves a competitive application process---including an aptitude test---focuses on the needs of skilled individuals who already hold college degrees.

TechLEAP has two tracks: computer programming and computer network management.  Students learn the basics of computer science in the first month of the program, then choose an area of concentration.  Classes are held four nights a week for four hours a night and six hours on Saturday.

That grueling schedule pays off in knowledge and technical training, plus internships for students who successfully master the course.  Those internships, Kimball notes, have frequently led to full-time employment.

For more information on TechLEAP, call 240-567-2594 or log onto, click on Continuing Education, then select TechLEAP from the menu at the left.  

Prospective students may register for the TechLEAP aptitude tests in June and July.  See the web site for details, or call 240-567-3829.  August 1 is the application deadline for the fall class, which starts September 3 at the new Montgomery College Business Training Center, 12 Summit Avenue in Olde Towne Gaithersburg.

                                                                     # # #

Back to News