State Tech welcomes industry representatives to discuss technical programming
Despite being the state’s main technical school, the State Technical College of Missouri was doing its own education on Friday.
State Tech invited dozens of industry professionals to campus to discuss current program offerings and institutional data, while gathering feedback on how to improve.
The college holds two advisory board meetings each year to check in with industry partners matching its 26 technical programs and get practical industry updates.
“Our instructors come from industry, they come here and they know what’s going on in their industry when they come here. But then they’re out of the industry after they started teaching here, ”said Dean of Technology Ben Berhorst. “Our advisory boards come here, keep us updated, tell us what we’re doing a good job at, tell us what we could do a better job in and where the industry is going.”
Advisory boards are made up of approximately five to six people from all facets of an industry – from business owners to service managers – who work with a corresponding faculty official as part of a technical program at State. Tech.
Berhorst said State Tech is always interested in technological developments and recommendations, growing industry trends, and future job projections from industry representatives.
Knowledge of GPS, for example, is increasingly common in the operation of heavy equipment, Berhorst said. So faculty members and advisory boards started discussing on Friday how to fit it into the curriculum, who uses it and at what level students should learn it.
State Tech’s utility systems technician program, which is one of the most popular with seven students already enrolled for next year, was born out of the advisory board’s suggestions just over four years ago, has said Berhorst.
“This program was actually born out of the advisory board input saying that there is a huge need here, and we need to send graduates to fill that need,” he said.
Some councils also invite students to provide feedback and discuss their experiences in the programs.
“They think it’s great because it’s a direct link to the industry that they’re going to end up serving and working in,” Berhorst said.
Berhorst said that good advisory advice is critical to the college’s long-term success as it tries to stay relevant with industries and technological developments.
At the same time, it’s an opportunity for State Tech to provide institutional updates and market students to employers.
The Utility Systems Technician Advisory Council began its meeting on Friday by reviewing recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation data for the program.
Cole Schaefer, chair of the utility systems technician department, has reviewed plans to enroll 50 students in the program next year and said the college has started admission visits for prospective students.
“The engagement is good though, I have quite a few candidates that I work with to get a full application,” Schaefer said. “We are at seven at the moment. We want to probably hit around 53 or 54, that inflated cap, so by the time the fall semester starts, we’re looking at having two full sections.
Schaefer also provided placement updates on the previous class of students graduating from the program.
The advisory boards also heard from State Tech President Shawn Strong about the college’s record accomplishments and provided recommendations on how State Tech staff can engage in professional development.
“All of these different angles come together and talk about where the industry is heading, what’s best for everyone, what’s best for our graduates, and what’s best for the industry.” , said Berhorst. “It’s kind of a win-win.”