By Frank Stanko
The next three years are looking prosperous for North Dakota State College of Science.
Recently, the 104-year-old institution received a National Science Foundation grant worth nearly three quarters of a million dollars. The grant, totaling $742,567, will be used through April 30, 2020 to benefit NDSCS’ North Dakota Welds program.
“I’m proud of our welding program, because it’s always been goal-oriented,” said Clint Gilbertson, who will oversee the program while also serving as an associate professor. “A lot of times, departments will go after grant funds just because there’s money there.
“Our long-range goals have always been focused, whether it’s looking at five years or 10. If a grant opportunity comes up and it doesn’t align with our goals, we put it aside. A lot of our success is because of our focus. When you’re focused, you have a buy-in from the entire department, faculty and students, helping things go very well,” he added.
According to Gilbertson, most of NDSCS’ welding faculty will be involved in putting the grant to use. His key team includes associate professors Joel Johnson, Lee Larson and Vance Harshen, plus instructors Mitch Van Vleet and Chance Pausch.
“There is a budget lined up for three years. It’s basically the full amount divided by three. But there is flexibility within the grant, for things like if I needed more equipment,” Gilbertson explained.
With class registrations still occurring, Gilbertson is unsure how many students will take NDSCS’ welding program this fall. Currently, there is the potential for 100 students (60 first-year students, 40 second-year students) between the Fargo and Wahpeton campuses.
According to Gilbertson’s grant proposal, the following five goals will be accomplished:
• Developing a welding curriculum at NDSCS in alignment with the curriculum developed in career and technical education courses in secondary schools across North Dakota and the adoption of the American Welding Society’s (AWS) “Schools Excelling through National Skill Standards Education (SENSE) program
• Conducting outreach activities targeting female and minority students to increase enrollments in secondary career and technical education courses
• Recruiting and training education instructors through professional development activities
• Facilitating the certification and testing of welders using national standards by NDSCS becoming an AWS-accredited test facility
• Developing latticed curricula to establish new degree tracts in advanced skills for welding and manufacturing students at NDSCS while increasing the number of NDSCS graduates that participate in “2 Plus 2” programs with Minnesota State University-Moorhead and Valley City State University
“We’re going to train all the high school welding instructors across the state of North Dakota to our standards,” Gilbertson continued. “We’re going to provide them with equipment and materials to help get their programs up to speed.”
By 2020, Gilbertson continued, it will hopefully be possible for NDSCS to see further gains with its long-range goal of helping incoming students be well-prepared and on the fast track for successful completion of its welding program.
“These efforts have the potential to transform the regional and state landscape of welding technician education in North Dakota,” he wrote.
The welding program isn’t the only NDSCS department with an optimistic future in sight.
In May, NDSCS acquired the use of nearly 95 acres of farmland north of Wahpeton from the Kosel and Patterson families.
Owners Linda Patterson and her mother, Mary Kosel, worked with NDSCS’ Alumni Foundation to arrange the land usage. The women and NDSCS signed a contract on Thursday, May 11.
Over the next three years, NDSCS’ agriculture department will collaborate with agriculture students to create a “land lab” on the parcel.
More information about the land lab is expected later this year.
See the full article online at wahpetondailynews.com.