MTI outreach trailer makes stops in Chester, Madison
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
Mitchell Technical Institute has been making the rounds to area schools using its outreach trailer.|
Funded in part through a community-based job training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the outreach trailer is one of two available to local schools. Outreach Trainer Jimmie Nicolaus was in Chester and Madison last week giving high school students some hands-on opportunities to learn about electrical construction and maintenance, heating and cooling technology, power line maintenance and construction, propane and natural gas technology and wind turbine technology.
The trailer features different stations where students can get an up-close look at how power lines are set up; how a furnace functions; and how electrical circuits are put together.
Lisa Hansen, K-12 advisor for Chester, said she's been trying to get Nicolaus to Chester for a year. She said it's important for students to get some hands-on experience to find out about these programs because some of the program enrollments are limited and fill quickly.
Madison High School Counselor Diana Larson agrees and says she starts working with juniors to initiate the application process.
"I'm already promoting it to my juniors," she said. "We need to start now with visits and getting on campus."
In the case of MTI's power line program, classes fill up quickly because there are several steps they need to take before they are accepted into the program -- first is the application and a placement test to determine aptitude in math and English. Once those tasks are completed, a background check and drug screening are required before students can pay a holding fee and secure their spot in a class.
Larson said students who wait too long, run the risk of waiting an entire year before they can start in a particular program.
"It's much more competitive," she said.
Not only are high school students competing against other high school students for a spot in the class, but they're also competing against non-traditional students looking to go back to school.
Larson said three Madison students started the application process for MTI this past November and just completed the process.
"They were 15th, 16th and 17th on the list," she said.
Nicolaus said the stop in Chester on Friday was the fifth stop for him last week. He typically travels in a 50-60 mile radius from Mitchell. So far, he said, he's visited about 25 schools compared to the 65-70 visited last year.
Nicolaus said he plans to reconfigure the trailer for MTI's agriculture and transportation programs for the next academic year.