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A business designed to enhance student interest in engineering is looking to expand in Illinois by way of franchising.

“We have several prospects from Illinois across the state. Once we opened one location in Naperville, word gets out. It kind of grows organically,” said founder/owner Dori Roberts of Engineering for Kids, an enrichment program for students ages 4 through 14 that offers a curriculum program during afterschool hours and summers.

Roberts, a former engineering high school teacher for 11 years, began her business in 2009 in Fredericksburg, Va. after looking for engineering programs to enhance interest of the field for her own children who were 6 and 8. She found none. It prompted her to start an afterschool club that rapidly expanded with participants who were soon competing successfully in engineering competitions. Roberts also saw various avenues to offer engineering principals in a fun fashion to kids through summer and other recrea-tional programs. She was amazed at the response.

“School principals and parents got really excited at what we were offering,” she said.

Seeing an opportunity to expand, Roberts left her teaching position and devoted full-time to the business opportunity she created.

Engineering for Kids currently has 77 locations in 22 states and three international locations.

“Our participants, especially girls, have shown more interest in math and science. We take everyone through an engineering design process where they are challenged to solve problems,” Roberts said.

Chris LeBreck, current owner of the Engineering for Kids program in Naperville, said he stumbled across the franchise opportunity by way of the Internet.

He and his wife were looking for something to compliment their already existing inflatable play land business and wanted something with “an enrichment and educational focus,” LeBreck said.

“This franchise is an excellent opportunity for parents to get kids exposed to engineering,” said LeBreck whose background includes graduating from Northern Illinois University with a degree in electrical engineering and working for companies like Honeywell, Northrop-Grumman and Phillips.

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