By Tim Leeds
Representatives of industry met yesterday at Montana State University-Northern to give input on their needs and desires for skills graduates of the Northern diesel technology program should have.
The board met with faculty from the diesel technology program and other technical programs, as well as representatives from the business and English faculty and administration, to discuss issues including the goals of the program; how to increase the number of graduates; identify needs of businesses, student career goal objectives and identify and facilitate industry partnerships with the program; student recruitment; facilities, and faculty development.
"We need to sit back and listen to these people," Alex Capdeville, chancellor of Northern said, "then adjust our programs accordingly. These are the people that are hiring our students."
Capdeville said that the student Northern is graduating is the product of the university, and the people in industry are the consumers. He said if they are not happy with that product, it's going to have a negative effect on the university, so it's important to listen to their needs and desires for qualities in the students.
"That's a pretty impressive group from industry supporting us," he said about the group that met at Donaldson Commons yesterday.
The group included Dan Conway of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, Arnie Lalum of Meissner Tractors Inc., Mike Tilleman of Tilleman Motor Co., Tom Patrick of Patrick Construction, Al Beute of General Electric, Lyle Nichols of Kiewit out of Phoenix, Dave Barta of Long Machinery in Missoula and Charley Stiles of Interstate Diesel out of Billings. Others were unable to attend yesterday's meeting, but have agreed to be on the advisory council.
Capdeville said many businesses already work very closely with Northern's technical programs, doing guest instruction, loaning equipment to the program and doing cooperative training positions.
"Those companies are willing to make an investment in our school, money and time," he said. "For them time is money. ... They like our students."
The diesel program is already extremely successful, but Capdeville said they need to keep adjusting to changes in the industry.
"It's not what it used to be," he said. "They have to be on the cutting edge."