MTI joins with Sinte Gleska on training for wind powerMitchell Technical Institute President Greg Von Wald believes a groundbreaking agreement between his technical school and Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation will benefit both schools.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Mitchell Technical Institute President Greg Von Wald believes a groundbreaking agreement between his technical school and Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation will benefit both schools.
The agreement, approved last week by the Mitchell Board of Education, will bring a one-year wind turbine training class to the SGU campus in Mission.
Von Wald, formerly of Rapid City, said he previously had the college as a client when he worked in the telecommunications industry.
“It’s a great school, and they try hard to provide opportunities for tribal members,” he said.
Under Von Wald’s guidance, MTI started the wind turbine technology program in the 2009 fall semester. Expanding the program to SGU seemed a natural extension.
“I was aware that they had an older 750-kilowatt wind generator, and that they’ve had problems with it,” he said. Expensive maintenance calls from Omaha used any income the tribe earned by selling the electricity produced by the generator, he said.
The Rosebud Reservation also has agreements with outside companies to create two wind farms on the reservation. Workers will be needed to maintain those turbines, Von Wald said.
“So I thought that this was not only a great opportunity to solve that problem and to help the tribe, but it was a great opportunity to help our Native American brethren by providing training for great-paying jobs,” he said.
“Sinte Gleska University hopes one day to have a ‘green’ campus, entirely using alternative energy sources, complete with courses to provide student and community preparedness,” said SGU President Lionel Bordeaux in a press release.
Course delivery for the twosemester program will be done through a combination of two-way video distance learning; existing SGU classes which will articulate into the program; MTI courses taught on the SGU campus by adjunct faculty hired by MTI; and an introductory safety class conducted on the MTI campus.
The program is supported, in part, through a communitybased job training grant administered through the U.S. Department of Labor and awarded to MTI in February 2009. The goal of the grant is to increase the number of trained energy workers in the state and region.
Georgia Hackett, Sinte Gleska’s vice president for institutional relations, said several students have expressed interest in the wind technology program.
“This is a good opportunity. We’ve had a number of articulation agreements, with other schools, but MTI is the first tech school that Sinte Gleska has worked with,” she said. “We provide educational opportunities for people and these wind turbines are coming. The jobs created should be good paying and they’re needed.”
John Heemstra, MTI campus outreach coordinator, traveled to Sinte Gleska Friday to participate in a job fair and to answer questions from potential candidates and received five applications for the program. Heemstra said he will return to Sinte Gleska in early August for a follow-up visit.
The goal is to enroll five to 10 SGU students the first year, Von Wald said. To date, one student has been accepted.
Von Wald said he is pleased with the enrollment progress.
“There definitely will be bumps in the road, but both schools have the right interest in mind, which is to make this thing work for the benefit of all concerned,” he said.