Williston State College receives CTE grant towards improving Automation, IT departments

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 1:02 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2023 at 10:57 PM CST
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - Understanding how automation works can be complex, especially when computer programming is added to the mix. Two of Williston State College’s departments are helping students learn more about the future of automation thanks to a state grant.

At Williston State College’s Western Star Career and Technology Center, students in the Industrial Automation course are learning how technology works. Ben Aaberg has been working in the oilfield for eight years and was surprised how much more there is to know about his machinery.

“To keep up with the times, you got to learn. You got to learn the new stuff and that’s what I’m here to do,” said Ben Aaberg, automation student.

Computers are playing a big role in how automation works today. Some knowledge of the internet and programming is a must for those interested in automation.

“Technology is evolving at a rapid rate, and it seems like every industry is starting to move towards automation and this is a very good skill to have,” said Matthew Hansen, automation student.

Earlier this month, the college’s Information Technology department received a 38 thousand dollar “Innovation Grant” from the state department of Career and Technical Education. It will be used for applying IT to other fields like automation. Rouston Villegas, a first-year IT student, says the industry is growing fast.

“There’s going to be more IT jobs and there’s going to be more people that need to know how stuff works,” said Rouston Villegas, IT student.

Aaberg says blending IT and automation can create more job opportunities.

“There is so much more on the table for me. I can go to so many more different places than I could before I came to this program,” said Aaberg.

Professor of Information Technology Ken Quamme said they have a nearly 100 percent employment rate for students after graduating. He expects that to continue thanks to this grant.

Part of the grant will also be used for three new classes next fall: Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, and Electronics and Industrial Controls.