A donation of the use of heavy construction equipment to Mitchell Technical Institute by a Sioux Falls company is giving students a leg up in hands-on training.
Stan Houston Equipment Company, a Sioux Falls firm with additional locations in Aberdeen, Rapid City, Watertown and Sioux City, recently donated the use of several pieces of heavy construction equipment to the Architectural Design and Building Construction program at Mitchell Technical Institute.
Representatives from MTI, Stan Houston and students from the program were on the school campus in Mitchell Monday morning to give the equipment a test run.
Eric Schramm, an instructor with the MTI program, said the donation came from interactions with Stan Houston sales representatives and faculty at MTI, both of whom saw the benefits of students being able to use the latest equipment in an educational environment.
“We wanted to diversify the students while they are in the program, so we started this construction equipment class, and Stan Houston Equipment has been huge in that by donating the equipment for the students to use and helping with the training on that equipment,” said Schramm.
This is the second year Stan Houston has donated the use of equipment to the MTI program. This year, the company has donated a track loader, skid loader, mini excavator, Telehandler, remote sheepsfoot packer and payloader. The cost for MTI to otherwise rent the equipment for the school year would come to approximately $80,000.
Eddie Haskell, outside industrial and safety sales representative for Stan Houston, said the partnership made sense for both his company and MTI and its students.
“Eric and the other instructors and I got together about four years ago and had this brainstorm that this needs to happen. We need to get this equipment in these kids’ hands,” Haskell said. “We just thought it would be a good idea to have these things for them to use.”
Schramm said there are approximately 60 students in the Architectural Design and Building Construction program at MTI. The program gears students toward hands-on learning to prepare them for employment in construction-related fields. .
Those students can definitely benefit in their studies by having access to equipment like what was on display Monday morning. Students will train to use the equipment as well as utilize it in the construction of the residence that is built every year by the program at its on-site location, Schramm said.
“The students love it. We have students who come in with experience, and it may not be as exciting for them, but for students that have never seen a machine or been in one, they really thrive. They really enjoy it, and I think it’s a draw to our program,” Schramm said.
Eli Hofer, a sales manager with Stan Houston, said the company will benefit from the exposure of the donation, but the real value is in preparing a new generation of construction workers for a real-world career in the construction field.
“It gives some name recognition to our company, but it’s also promoting trades. The job market is really short on that side of the business,” Hofer said. “What better way to get kids excited than by giving them a real-life experience in a controlled environment before they get to the real world.”
Haskell agreed that exposure for the company never hurts, but there is a benefit for all involved with the donation.
“We don’t charge anything, this is all a donation,” Haskell said. “It’s really about the kids learning how to use it properly before they go out in the field.”
It is the second notable equipment donation of the year for MTI. The school's wind turbine technology program received approximately $1 million in used turbine equipment from NextEra Energy in July, which is meant to go toward a future wind turbine training on the MTI campus.