SHERIDAN — Hundreds of high school students will get a chance to get their hands dirty at the college level next week when Sheridan College industrial technology programs host Industrial Tech Program’s Demo Day.
Misty Bateman, career and technical education student recruiter, said the program will introduce students to Sheridan College’s programs and the tech field.
The program invites students to the campus for a day and allows them to participate in the offerings at the school.
“When we have an event like this, we are not only trying to build awareness of the programs we have here at Sheridan College, but also build awareness of the fact that these types of programs even exist,” Bateman said.
The Demo Day takes high school students on a tour through the facilities. However, students will be able to do more than just look around the building.
“They get to get their hands dirty — build something, run something, make something on a machine,” Bateman said. “It’s very interactive.”
By doing this, the program hopes to get students interested in a technology field.
Bateman said that just telling prospective students about the college’s programs isn’t always the most effective way to get students interested — getting a welding torch in the hand of a student or having them work on a diesel truck sparks interests more effectively.
Even in its first year, Demo Day has seen a great amount of interest from local schools. About 125 high school students will make their way to Sheridan College for the program, more than organizers originally anticipated. Schools from Wyoming and Montana will participate.
Demo Day is not a response to declining numbers in the programs — in fact, Bateman said it’s the exact opposite. Sheridan College’s technology programs often fill fast and are currently at capacity.
However, Bateman said, the industry itself is in trouble.
According to Bateman, retirements and the demand for more skilled workers have caused more than 600,000 technology-related jobs nationwide to go unfilled, and that number is expected to grow.
The demand for skilled workers is so high that graduates of Sheridan College’s tech programs have a 98 percent placement rate in the workforce.
This spring, SC officials will break ground on the tech center expansion and construction project, hoping to create more space for more students.
The project includes a complete remodel of existing space and approximately 22,000 square feet of new space for technical programs, including machine tool technology, diesel technology, welding technology and construction technology.
Dean of Technical Career Education Jed Jensen said that the expansion project will increase offerings and the number of students the tech programs can hold.
Demo Day will take place Wednesday at Sheridan College.