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MTI named among top 150 technical schools in the country

Mitchell Technical Institute was again named one of the top community colleges in the country by the Aspen Institute. According to the South Dakota Department of Education, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program recently named MTI and Lak...

Mitchell Technical Institute was again named one of the top community colleges in the country by the Aspen Institute.

According to the South Dakota Department of Education, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program recently named MTI and Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown among the nation’s top 150 community colleges.

“Everyone in our organizations is focused on one mission: building South Dakota’s technically skilled workforce,” LATI President Mike Cartney and MTI President Mark Wilson issued a joint statement. “Our students can be confident their education prepares them for in-demand technical careers; business and industry can be assured our graduates are ready to tackle the challenges of today’s dynamic and technology-driven environment.”

The prize is awarded every two years. LATI and MTI, along with 148 other community colleges, were selected from a national pool of more than 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes in three areas:

  • Performance (retention, graduation rates including transfers and degrees and certificates per 100 full-time equivalent students)

  • Improvement (awarded for steady improvement in each performance metric over time)

  • Equity (evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students)

According to the department, LATI and MTI have been invited to submit an application to the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence containing detailed data on degree and certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings) and student learning outcomes.
Ten finalists will be named in the fall. The Aspen Institute will then visits each of the finalist sites, and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished prize jury will select a grand prize winner and finalists with distinction in early 2017.

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MTI and LATI have each made the list since the inception of the award, and LATI has been a finalist with distinction each time.  

“As a system of four technical schools, we are committed to continually improving. National recognition like the Aspen College Excellence Program affirms our efforts are making a difference,” Wilson and Cartney said in their statement.

More than 6,300 students are currently enrolled in South Dakota’s technical institute system, according to the department.

“The four technical institutes in Watertown, Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Rapid City do an outstanding job of preparing students as skilled scholars, ready to contribute to business’ goals and the communities where they live,” Tiffany Sanderson, director of career and technical education for the South Dakota Department of Education said. “For half of our schools to be named to the nation’s top 15 percent of two-year colleges, speaks heavily to their quality.”

A full list of the selected colleges and details on the selection process are available at www.aspenprize.org .

Scholarship opportunities For the first time, the 150 prize-eligible institutions are also invited to nominate exceptional students enrolled in their best middle-skill STEM programs for scholarships, according to the state Department of Education. Up to 50 Siemens Technical Scholars will be selected from programs that provide outstanding preparation for high-demand jobs in manufacturing, energy, health care and information technology.

A partnership between the Siemens Foundation and the Aspen Institute, the Siemens Technical Scholars Program intends to help community colleges and their business partners bridge the gap between projected shortages of skilled workers and the jobs in STEM industries.

Scholarship winners and the programs that enable their success through “rigorous training” will be announced in the fall.

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