What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is one of the questions we all get asked at some point in our lives. High school counselors, administrators and teachers want to help their students answer this question and North Dakota State College of Science is trying to equip them to do so. From June 10-13, NDSCS hosted the 12th annual Career Awareness Seminar attended by more than 20 high school counselors and teachers from Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana.
NDSCS Vice President of Academic Affairs Harvey Link explained that this event needs to be put in context to what NDSCS is – a career and technical college.
“(We) bring them to campus and let them experience the programs that we have, because the vast majority of individuals are not familiar with the breadth and depth of technical programming or even what all the careers are that can come out of it,” he said.
Industry partners come throughout the event to speak about the need for more technicians in their field. However, Link explained that they want the attendees to really have a chance to experience these different jobs. They tell attendees not to bring open toed shoes and to make sure they have clothes they can work in.
The creation of this event was a response to being approached by a Komatsu dealer who mentioned their need for well trained technicians.
Throughout the seminar, participants visit multiple departments on campus, where they can get a taste of what it’s like to be in each line of work.
“It came about from an industry need and a college recognition of that need that said, ‘students just don’t know the opportunities that are out there,’” Link said.
Building and Construction
For example, in the building construction technology department, participants built planters which will be donated to residents of Twin Town Villa. Michelle Kuznia, a counselor from Kindred High School in Kindred, North Dakota, helped put together the planter. She gives students evaluations to help them figure out what career they want to pursue.
“I didn’t realize what programs they had here and that was a pleasant surprise because now I feel like they really gave us a little … each area we went through I really felt like they gave us a thorough introduction of what it is, hands on stuff, they gave us an opportunity to ask questions, so I can go back and I can go through all those different areas with kids. So I feel like they gave us a quick, yet thorough introduction of what they do in their programs here.”
Kuznia hopes to bring some of her students to NDSCS to be able to have an experience similar to hers.
Randy Stach, associate professor, chair and Construction Management Technology coordinator, explained what the department teaches and some of their methods.
“We are producing or educating the future leaders of the construction industry,” Stach said.
He explained that they partner with multiple construction companies in the area, including Comstock Construction and Gast Construction in Wahpeton. The students will work with one of these contractors over the summer, the company will assign the student a mentor who will work with them every day, Stach said.
In the diesel technology department, teachers and counselors had the opportunity to talk to diesel tech students who are currently in the program.
“These students right in here are sponsored by a Case IH dealer, they’re already an individual that they have identified, that they’ve aligned with and that Case IH partner is sponsoring these students and they’re doing internships back at the dealership and they go back to school, back and forth,” Link said.
According to Michael Redding, an associate professor of diesel technology and the Case International Harvester program coordinator, visitors were able to drive and experience a auto drive in a new Case tractor as well as learn about a fuel efficient transmission. Nathaniel Haman, from Rugby, North Dakota, is a second-year diesel technology student. He grew up on a family farm which used Case equipment, he heard about the program from someone who had been through it at NDSCS.
Redding explained that his students must learn computer systems, the mechanical part of it and dealing with customer service.
Teachers and counselors also had the opportunity to learn something about welding and experience how the instructors teach students.
Link described the need for students in these jobs and the lack of knowledge they may have.
“There are opportunities out there for excellent, high-paying careers,” he said. “And students don’t have any idea that they’re there, so this is a way to let people know what it’s like.”