SD tech schools get boost from governor

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Student demand for classroom spots in South Dakota’s technical schools is on the rise, pushing classroom capacity to the limits.

Bill Urban, program director and instructor in the precision machining program at Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City, reported that some of his department’s classes were over enrolled by as many as two or three students, and that this story is being repeated in other departments and at other tech schools.

But some relief is on the way in the form of additional funding for more machinery.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced Thursday an award of over $860,000 for South Dakota’s four technical schools to better support programs for careers in high demand.

“Our Build Dakota scholarship programs are attracting more qualified applicants that we have equipment to train them on,” said Daugaard. “So, $864,000 among the four tech schools will give them more up-to-date equipment that they can use to train these students who will stay in South Dakota and work on the same equipment on the job.”

Rapid City’s own Western Dakota Tech is slated to receive $68,000 of the funds. Western Dakota Tech president Ann Bolman is pleased to have the ability to serve the increasing number of South Dakotans pursuing these in-demand careers.

“It’s awesome to live in South Dakota and to know that when there is a demand for skilled workers that the governor is going to be there,” said Bolman. “[He’s] helping put the pieces in place to make sure we’ve got the equipment we need for students to get that high level of education so that they can do a great job for whoever is lucky enough to employ them.”

Bolman and Urban said that the funds will be used to purchase new and up-to-date milling and lathe equipment for the precision machining program. The new equipment will add classroom capacity and allow for an array of more advanced skills to the curriculum.

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