Today in the Dickinson Press newspaper there is an article titled, “DSU could become a polytechnic campus”. Tom Mitzel, DSU president, appeared before the Dickinson City Commissioners on June 19 and explained that in addition to offering traditional four-year liberal arts degrees, DSU could begin offering technical training that would result in licensing, certification, or associates degrees in fields related to workforce needs here in western North Dakota.
The mayor of Dickinson and some of the commissioners stated that they thought that this was a wonderful idea. In my opinion, this would be the best thing that ever happened to DSU, and this is long overdue. I also think that this would be one of best things to ever happen to Dickinson. I will enumerate why this is such a good idea.
- There are many high school kids in western North Dakota that already have a mechanical aptitude from growing up on farms, working on vehicles, motors, and equipment. They are just a little short of being ready to work in the oil field in a skilled trade. Being able to obtain certification here locally right out of high school, in things like welding, crane operating, instrumentation for example, would give them a much better chance to obtain employment locally, and at a higher pay rate.
- Many local high school students do not want to go to college for four years, they don’t see themselves doing this, they don’t see the need to go to college for four years, they don’t see this benefiting them, and they don’t plan on doing it. Many of these high school students would see the benefit of taking only course work relevant to obtaining a certification that would make them more employable, or allow them to receive a higher rate of pay.
- Many high school students could see themselves going to college for two years, in order to obtain a technical associates degree, that demonstrates both that they have completed typical college general education requirements, and that they also have a technical competency in one or more areas.
- The businesses, employers, and oil companies in North Dakota would probably love to have many more prospective employees that have completed college level course work and also received relevant technical training.
- The large oil companies and the large oil field service companies would probably be willing to provide funding, guidance on desired technical course work, and also loan experienced personnel to advise or perform some teaching.
- If DSU developed a recognized technical program that offered certification or associates degrees, Dickinson would be a magnet for high school graduates from all over North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Minnesota.
My advice to DSU president Tom Mitzel, would be to aim for cooperation and assistance from GE, General Electric. A little more than a year ago, GE acquired Lufkin, one of the biggest manufactures of oil field pump jacks, and also control systems. About a year ago, GE also acquired Baker Hughes, a.k.a. BJ Services, one of the largest oil field service companies in the World. Both Lufkin and BJ Services have large operations in Dickinson that would benefit greatly from a technical program at DSU.