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Million-dollar grant benefits MTI equipment

Mitchell Technical Institute is getting a million-dollar boost.

MTI has received about $1.15 million of state grant money to help upgrade equipment in six of the school’s programs.

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The money, which is from a state-awarded Future Fund grant, is one of the steps Gov. Dennis Daugaard is taking to help boost South Dakota’s technical workforce, he said during his State of the State speech Tuesday.

MTI President Greg Von Wald announced the grant money during Monday night’s Mitchell Board of Education meeting, and Daugaard referenced the grant during his speech Tuesday in Pierre.

“We had equipment that we couldn’t afford to repair and equipment that was obsolete,” Von Wald said Wednesday. “That hurts the training of our students. This grant money is like water to a parched tongue.”

Daugaard requested all four of the state’s technical colleges to prioritize their highest-need equipment upgrades in December. Earlier this month, he awarded a total of $3.8 million in Future Fund grants to fund the upgrades. There are also technical institutes in Watertown, Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

“Our technical institutes strive to teach using cutting edge, up-to-date equipment, but that can be very expensive,” Daugaard, a Republican, said during his speech.

Von Wald said the farm power program; satellite communications; precision technology; propane and natural gas technology; electrical construction and maintenance; and construction program saw upgrades because of the grant.

Here is what the grant money will be used for in each program:

  • Farm power: PTO Dynamometer, compact diesel tractor, transmission trainers, tractor cab electrical trainer, tractor rear half trainer, overhead crane, specialty tool sets.
  • Satellite communications: Production switches, KU band amplifier, digital receivers, spectrum analyzer, routing system to help integrate IP and HD digital signals, HD receiver.
  • Precision technology: Hand-held GPS systems, RTK receivers, GreenStar precision systems.
  • Propane and natural gas technology: Portable air compressor to pressurize underground gas lines.
  • Electrical construction and maintenance and various programs: Portable AC/DC electrical learning system.
  • Construction programs: Telehandler.

Daugaard also said in his speech that it is important to have more young people in the technology fields succeed and continue living in South Dakota after their education.

Daugaard said another $1.5 million will be provided in the next three years to support scholarships for students studying 20 high-need fields at the state’s technical institutes.

“These scholarships of up to $5,000 for two-year programs will be for students who agree to stay in South Dakota and work in a high-need field for three years,” Daugaard said.