Congratulations to North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) for being chosen as NC3’s August School on the Rise! North Dakota State College of Science, located in Wahpeton, North Dakota, is the second oldest continually operating public two-year college in the United States and one of NC3’s earliest adopters of industry certifications. Offering skilled trades credentials from Lincoln Electric, Trane, Greenlee, and Snap-on, NDSCS is a powerhouse for comprehensive training and education in their state.
Since becoming an NC3 Leadership School, this institution has issued over 3,000 industry certifications to its students! Through employee partnerships and industry networking, students from all over the region have entered NDSCS programs and graduated with the skills and knowledge necessary to step into successful careers.
Mark Wood, Department Chair and Associate Professor for the HVAC/R Program at NDSCS, explains the value of NC3’s industry-recognized certifications. He said,
“NC3 Certifications give our students marketable skills from very notable names in industry. Our employers like to see the certifications because when they see those names, they know the applicant has knowledge in those areas that can be put towards application.”
When students enroll at North Dakota State College of Science, they not only have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials, they also have a remarkable amount of jobs available to them once they graduate. Mark commented on the incredible demand for skilled workers by saying,
“We start out with students who don’t know anything about the industry and they end up graduating with marketable skills and several certifications. With the skills obtained at North Dakota State College of Science, nearly 100 percent of our students gain employment. The number of jobs available every year far exceeds the number of graduates we have so there are many opportunities for each and every one of our students.”
A key aspect of the North Dakota State College of Science’s training and education program is its close relationship with business and industry. Their partnerships with industry employers has grown throughout the years and is a huge benefit for students and their community as a whole. With scholarship opportunities, employers provide students the means to earn an education with a 2-year degree. Mark says,
“Our industry partners and employers offer sponsorships and scholarships to our students each year. Over half of our students are sponsored by one of our employee partners and that also means they have a job over the summer to gain experience in the field. Most of them have a career waiting for them when they graduate.”
As awareness of the skilled trades continue to rise, NDSCS is seeing enrollment from students of all backgrounds and education levels. Mark commented on the students he’s seeing in his classes each year by saying, “predominantly, we see students straight out of high school but it does vary. We see a number of students each year that have attended a 4-year college and realize they want to do something they can get their hands on, so they come back for training in the skilled trades. We also see what we call re-tool students who have been in the industry already but want to switch gears to a different industry or gain more training experience.”
The advantages gained through partnering with NC3 offers more than simply earning industry credentials, schools have the opportunity to network with organizations and institutions around the country that have parallel missions. Mark remarked on an instance when the NC3 Network came to the aid of one of his students. He said,
“Most of our students are from our local area and remain here after graduation but we have had students come from out of state and return home after graduation. In fact, one student in particular was from North Carolina and, upon returning home, I was able to connect him with another NC3 instructor in that area who helped him get a job. NC3 is more than just industry certifications; the networking opportunities for instructors add a whole other layer of benefits.”
Through attending NC3 Train-the-Trainer events, instructors have the rather uncommon chance to form relationships and network with other instructors from institutions nationwide. Mark has a particularly unique perspective on NC3 Train-the-Trainer events because he is both an attendee instructor who takes classes and an NC3 Master Instructor who teaches classes. During our interview, he recalled his experience during his first Train-the-Trainer event by saying, “as an attendee, with regard to my very first Train-the-Trainer event, it was mind boggling but I could see how you could take these certifications, assimilate them into your curriculum, and be successful in providing the certifications to your students. Train-the-Trainer is an enlightening experience. You attend with other instructors from around the country and you question each other about different methods, practices, and what everyone’s labs look like. You get a feel for what is successful and what has not been successful.”
After many years issuing NC3’s industry-recognized certifications and attending Train-the-Trainer events, Mark took his mission to the next level and became an NC3 Master Instructor for Trane HVAC Certifications. He shared his experience being a Master Instructor and seeing Train-the-Trainer from an entirely new perspective by saying,
“As a Master Instructor, every training is such a rich experience because you have both individuals that have been teaching as long as I have and some that have not in your classes. No matter where they are with their experience level in instructing, each person always has something to add or share that is a little nugget I take home. The last Train-the-Trainer event we had was our first in-person training since the pandemic started and we had three instructors who were brand new to teaching and hadn’t even taught one semester yet. Not only were they brand new instructors, they were also new to the NC3 family. It was a completely new experience for them from all sides and I think Train-the-Trainer gave them a different perspective on learning and teaching that they could bring back to their classroom. There are always a lot of ‘ah-ha’ moments because the instructors at Train-the-Trainer events have not only the need to know but also the want to know. When you combine those two things, learning takes place in a much better environment.”
As one of the oldest two-year institutions in the nation, North Dakota State College of Science has grown and adapted alongside the evolution of industry and skilled trades. Mark explained the key aspects that make NDSCS stand out amongst other institutions in the region by saying, “we’ve been at this for over 70 years at the College of Science so our programs have been around for a long time. We have a lot of lab space so therefore we have a lot more equipment than any other school in a 200 mile radius. Our instructors are excellent and have a lot of experience but I think most of all, we get up in the morning and our motors are going because we know that we get to have fun at work. I think that translates into the students that come to our college. I have students who often call me on the job to talk about what they’re working on and that also helps me learn about new things in the field I can incorporate into the program here. The industry is so fluid and we’re always making tweaks here and there to stay current with what’s out there.”
So, what’s next for North Dakota State College of Science? Mark was excited to share that the institution is growing! He said, “we have plans to expand our lab this year! The equipment is already on-site so now we’re working on getting everything installed. That will give us the flexibility to be able to conduct workforce training and offer more industry-recognized certifications to individuals who are already out in the trade.”
NC3 is very proud to designate North Dakota State College of Science as August 2021’s NC3 School on the Rise. Thank you for being an exemplary school within the NC3 Network! We look forward to watching your school’s success continue to grow in the years to come. Congratulations again to you and your students.
Stay tuned for our next School on the Rise recipient in September 2021!
Questions about NC3’s School on the Rise? Please contact Erika Staackmann, Customer Success Coordinator, 847.533.6985, Erika.Staackmann@nc3.net