Mitchell Technical College breaks ground on $10M Ag Power Diesel program building

New facility will bring all school programs to one campus, allow for program expansion

South Dakota Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, center-right, was on hand for the groundbreaking for the new $10 million, 36,410 square-foot Mitchell Technical College Ag Power Diesel building Tuesday, April 18, on the school campus.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — One of the most popular and in-demand programs at Mitchell Technical College will soon get a major upgrade in facilities after school officials, state dignitaries and students and faculty broke ground on a $10 million building for the Ag Power Diesel Program.

The event took place on a blustery Tuesday afternoon on the Mitchell Technical Campus just south of Interstate 90 in Mitchell, where the 36,410 square-foot building will be constructed. The new building will allow students pursuing degrees within the program to work and study on the Mitchell Tech main campus.

“We’re very excited about having all of our programs back on one campus,” Mark Wilson, president of Mitchell Technical College, told an assembly of dozens during his opening remarks. “The word is our civil engineers and contractors will be starting on Monday, so we’re very excited.”

The Ag Power Diesel building, which will be annexed into the northeast corner of the Nordby Trades Center, will feature state-of-the-art power and light truck labs, effectively completing Mitchell Technical College’s plan to bring all of its programs to one campus on East Spruce Street. The current 7,270 square-foot Light Truck Lab building located at 115 Pepsi St. is expected to be sold once the new building is completed.

“Today we are embarking on a $10 million project that will effectively bring the diesel program all on one campus,” Wilson said.


Funding for the $10 million project was secured through a combination of private and state funds. McGough Construction of Sioux Falls will lead the project, with Puetz Design & Build handling architectural responsibilities. Wilson said that the project would not be possible without strong support from industry leaders, along with the South Dakota governor’s office, legislators, the South Dakota Board of Technical Education and the Mitchell Board of Education.

Mark Wilson, president of Mitchell Technical College, said the new Ag Power Diesel buillding on campus, which is expected to be completed in December, is long overdue.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

South Dakota Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden was the keynote speaker for the groundbreaking, and noted the combined effort between Mitchell Technical College, the state and other entities came together to bring more opportunities in a rapidly-evolving industry to students from South Dakota and beyond.

“This $5 million investment from the state combined with $5 million from Mitchell Technical College will provide students with a 36,000-square-foot facility. This expansion will put all their programs on one campus, which will help them provide the best quality education for the next generation of workers in our state’s ag industry, which is desperately needed,” Rhoden said. “(Gov. Kristi Noem and I) understand the importance of this program, the importance of training our kids and grandkids to work in the field of agriculture.”

Rhoden said the South Dakota ag industry employs over 129,000 residents and contributes over $32 billion to the state economy. He said about one in five jobs in South Dakota is in the agriculture industry. One South Dakota agriculture producer raises enough food on average to feed 155 people in the United States and abroad.

South Dakota Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden was on hand Tuesday, April 18 for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Mitchell Technical College Ag Power Diesel program building.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

Boosting programs like the Ag Power Diesel program at Mitchell Tech is one way to ensure young South Dakotans can compete in an ever-changing field.

“Gov. Noem and I want to make sure that we can pass this thriving industry on to the next generation, and this facility represents a big part of helping us do that. It will allow the program to expand by an estimated 50 to 65 students and encourage more of South Dakota’s youth to seek careers in agriculture,” Rhoden said.

The Diesel Power power program offers two associate degrees, with students learning foundational diesel mechanics in their first year before choosing to specialize in either ag equipment or light trucks.

Joel Rassel, an insructor in the Mitchell Technical Colelge Diesel Power Program, speaks Tuesday, April 18, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Ag Power Diesel building on campus.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

In addition to its direct impact on the Diesel Power program, the expansion will enhance five other programs — Agricultural Business, Agronomy, Animal Science, Precision Agriculture and Power Sports Technology — providing much-needed space to complete their own lab exercises.


Joel Rassel, an instructor with the Diesel Power program, said the new facility will represent the potential growth the school sees in its students.

“With this expansion, we will have the necessary space to grow our program and put students in an environment with equipment and work-based scenarios all under one roof,” Rassel said. “I’m thrilled to witness the development over the coming months, which will undoubtedly enhance the teaching and learning experience for our students.”

Devon Russell, program director with the Ag Division at the school, said with the expansion, the students at Mitchell Tech will have a leg up acquiring the skills needed to succeed in the agriculture industry.

“(This expansion) will provide students with the hands-on experience and training with the latest technology and practices,” Russell said. “As agriculture continues to become more complex, Mitchell Tech is in a unique position to provide students with the skill needed to be successful in the industry.”

Following the comments by the speakers, the assembled crowd moved outside for the ceremonial groundbreaking, where the state officials, school representatives, faculty and staff gathered for photos as they clutched shiny shovels and tossed a spadeful of dirt into the air. Cheers and applause rose from the crowd, knowing the next phase in education at Mitchell Technical College had commenced.

Devon Russell, program director with the Mitchell Technical College Diesel Power Program, speaks Tuesday, April 18, during the groundbreaking for the school's new Ag Power Diesel building.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

Rhoden noted in his comments that institutions like Mitchell Tech help lead the way for students across the state, and he was excited to see what the future brings in the coming years.

“It’s my sincere hope that the students across the state and across this country will see the amazing work that is being done here in Mitchell. You aren’t just educating students, you’re training them to carry on the legacy of generations of South Dakota agricultural workers,” Rhoden said. “I can’t wait to see the product of this groundbreaking.”

Rassel agreed.


Students and instructors at Mitchell Technical College take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the school's new Ag Power Diesel program building Tuesday, April 18.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

“I look forward to welcoming you all back, hopefully in a year, to see this amazing space and we’ll show you what we can do with our students and our technology,” Rassel said.

Mitchell Tech officials are estimating December for a completion date for the new building.

Project expected to begin construction in spring 2023

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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