NCC and Interstates Companies Create a Unique Educational Partnership

Northwest Iowa Community College and Interstates, along with three local K–12 school districts, have created a unique educational partnership to benefit all of Northwest Iowa. The partnership was created with the intent to expose local junior and senior high school students to high demand careers in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

Scott Peterson, President of Interstates, approached college leaders in January of 2018 and challenged them to create a program that would be taught on Interstates’ campus in Sioux Center, Iowa, with the intention of career exploration in the electrical and instrumentation and control fields for high school students. Peterson’s goal was to create an educational partnership program that would benefit all of Northwest Iowa by creating interest at the high school level in career fields where there is currently a lack of a trained/skilled workforce in the area.

Peterson said, “The purpose of this project is to help students make educated career decisions. The way they will find long term success is by exploring careers, finding something they are passionate about, and developing the skills to be great at it. This program allows students to explore the electrical industry and learn about its opportunities. If they enjoy the experience offered within this partnership, they may choose it for a potential career.”

Following the initial meeting, college leaders with support from Interstates approached Sioux Center High School and Boyden-Hull High School about joining together to build this educational opportunity. Later West Sioux High School joined the endeavor.

In this unique program, students can earn up to 22 credit hours total in the fall and spring semester. If taken for two years (junior and senior year) a student could earn a total of 44 college credits completed while in high school. This would help a student to be well on his or her way to earning the 85 credits needed for the two-year Industrial Instrumentation & Control degree at NCC. This new program could potentially save a student up to $2,000 per semester in college tuition. If the entire 4 semesters are taken, it would save the student about $7,500 in tuition costs.

Gary McEldowney, Sioux Center High School Superintendent said, “We are passionate about finding opportunities for all our students. Being able to collaborate with other educational entities and industry partners to provide more opportunities for students will benefit Northwest Iowa as a whole. This is a tremendous area to live in, and we want to do everything we can to continue to grow our communities. The best way to do that is to create a good workforce.”

Interstates is investing in this educational partnership by building a new Career and Technical Education facility covering 17,000 square feet at its Sioux Center location. High school students who are enrolled in the program receive instruction at Interstates Monday–Friday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. using NCC’s curriculum and taught by NCC’s instructors.

Steve Waldstein, Dean of Applied Technology & Workforce, expressed some benefits to this program, “We want to expose high school students to college classes in order for them to learn what college learning is all about. We want the students to get a jumpstart on a career choice, and this is the perfect time for students to explore and decide if these careers are for them, without a substantial monetary investment. Finally, there are also many companies in Northwest Iowa who need highly skilled/trained electrical and instrumentation employees, and this is a great way to matriculate more students to these high demand career programs.”

“I like this program because it gives me the opportunity to learn more about careers I am interested in. I think this program will help me figure out if I want to be an electrician or an engineer. We will see which direction catches my interest,” said Adam Mohning, Junior at Sioux Center High School.

Dr. Alethea Stubbe, NCC President, commented, “The partnership between Northwest Iowa Community College, Interstates, and local high schools is a perfect fit for our ongoing mission of local collaboration and economic development. Along with the Iowa Governor’s Future Ready Iowa plan, which aims for 70% of Iowans to earn a diploma or certificate by the year 2020, we strive to respond to our local businesses’ needs in a timely manner. Recently, NCC was named to Forbes top 25 list as the 12th Best College in the Nation That Will be Able to Solve the Skills Gap. This partnership is a great example of ingenuity to create a program that will do just that—fill a critical skills gap.”

“I want to be an electrician. I was looking at going to college for that after I graduate from high school. This is basically the first year of the program, so it helps that I won’t have to pay for it. Also, I will graduate from college sooner because I will have the first year done,” commented Logan Koedam, Senior at West Sioux High School.

Graduates of NCC’s Industrial Instrumentation & Control programs regularly earn around $24/hour in Iowa, with higher income levels nationally.

If you would like more information about this program contact Dr. Beth Frankenstein, Student Development, Secondary Programs, & Transitions at (712) 324-5061, ext. 242 or email bfrankenstein@nwicc.edu.

Photo: Jim Groote, NCC Coordinator – Sioux Center Programming works with local high school students.

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