Northern hosts several tech events
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It's a busy week at Montana State Universi ty-Northern's Col lege of Technology, with three events running Sunday through Friday. The we e k kicked off with 18 Montana high school students coming to participate in the Young Women in Te c h n o l o g y Institute, capped off with Northern's second TekNoXpo today, followed by more than 100 diesel technology instructors coming to the institution Thursday and Friday for the 2010 Northwest Diesel Instructors Conference. Greg Kegel, dean of the college, said the first event of the week has been going well. "We've had some great presentations," he added. The program, funded through a Perkins grant, brought 18 students to investigate going into technical fields. Kegel said an ongoing battle in higher education has been to attract women into fields traditionally dominated by men, such as science, mathematics and technical programs. Northern put together a program to let the high school students see and work with the high-tech programs at the university and listen to presentations by successful women working in technical fields. He said one of the high points has been presentations by Linda Moore, who works for the international Nestle Corp. in information management. Moore talked to the women at the institute Wednesday and also gave a community presentation Monday. Kegel said part of the goal of the institute is to show women they can be successful in any field, and that many corporaTions are interested in recruiting women with the proper background into roles typically held by men. "I's a good thing for these young kids to do see that there's more than one thing to do," he said. "There's a lot of things to do." The girls at the institute also were invited to participate in the next event, slated for today. The TekNoXpo brings hundreds of Montana high school students to the campus, where they are divided into teams and go through a series of stations, culminating in the Big Equipment Rodeo. "It kind of has a carnival atmosphere," Kegel said. At each station the teams will learn about the programs and technology at Northern, then play games and receive gifts. The big equipment rodeo includes events like skidster races and backhoe basketball, where the teams use a backhoe to place a basketball on cones and to try to knock the ball back off. "A lot of these kids have never been on a tractor, so it's a riot for them," Kegel said. The event works well for recruitment, he added. Many of the students, from schools all around the state, have never been to Northern, and it can be an eye-opener for what is available there, Kegel said. The final event of the week also could add to Northern's recruitment, as well as for other colleges in the Pacific Northwest. Kegel said the Northwest Diesel Instructor's Conference typically is held in the far western states, mostly Washington, Oregon and northern California. After he attended last year's conference as a presenter, Kegel said, he proposed the idea that the 2010 conference be held in Havre. "They were skeptical at first, because of the distance," he added. Kegel said that as of Tuesday 100 instructors were enrolled to attend the conference. His intent was to network with the colleges, mainly two-year technical colleges, that are sending instructors. "They can come and look at our programs and see what were doing, listen to the stories these guys have about four-year degrees," Kegel said. With the success of placing students from its four-year technical programs, Kegel said, those colleges could benefit from having articulation agreements with Northern. At the conference, they will hear presentations from companies that heavily recruit graduates of the programs of Havre's university. "It gives you one more little feather in your hat to recruit people to your program," he said. The colleges can present the benefits for someone who is considering studying for a one-year certificate or a two-year degree of transferring to Northern after they complete those studies and going right into a four-year program as a sophomore or junior, Kegel said. Many of the presenters at the conference are from companies that have high-powered partnerships with Northern, like Caterpillar Inc., Komatsu America Corp. and Kiewit Corp. The instructors will be hearing from corporate representatives of the very companies that recruit the graduates. One of the featured speakers is Northern's own Nestor "Jon" Soriano, who heads the alternative energy research at the Applied Technology Center's Bioenergy Innovation and Testing Center. Other presenters will discuss a variety of issues, like troubleshooting electrical systems, the latest in diagnostic and scanning systems, oil sampling and engine emissions, and even discussing new electric-diesel hybrid bulldozers from Caterpillar and excavators from Komatsu. "It's just incredible stuff up here," Kegel said. "There's a world of knowledge and it's going to be right here at Northern."