SHERIDAN — The manufacturing programs available at Sheridan College help prepare students for jobs at businesses like VacuTech and Weatherby, and the college also heavily promotes its computer science programs.
While some believe the two fields might clash in the job market, others believe the two programs complement each other.
“I’m excited for manufacturing to come into Sheridan for the mere fact that computer sciences is in every domain,” Sheridan College computer science instructor Mark Thoney said. “Manufacturing in general has a large computer science component to it and is getting bigger every day.”
Thoney said just because Sheridan College boasts well-established manufacturing and welding programs does not mean the college ignores computer science as a growing industry. Advanced technology companies tend to cluster in certain areas of the country — like Denver, Seattle and the Silicon Valley in California. Thoney anticipates Sheridan becoming a place that welcomes tech-savvy businesses and people looking for locations to cater to their particular lifestyle.
“Do I think Sheridan will get there one day?” Thoney asked. “Sure. I think there’s a couple different paths where instead of a VacuTech that comes in you see a small software shop move in or a branch of a software shop come into Sheridan.”
As Sheridan College continues to build its computer science programs, Sheridan’s Wyoming Technology Business Center director Scot Rendall said the talent must be pulled from elsewhere, as most high-tech jobs require four years of education or more.
“That is a limiting factor not having that in town,” Rendall said. “That means we have to import some talent or people that want to come to Sheridan who have those skillsets or capabilities.”
On the other hand, the college’s two-year manufacturing and welding degrees play perfectly into Sheridan’s current business infrastructure.
“That is something locally we can offer because of the really good programs at Sheridan College,” Rendall said.
Thoney pointed out the ever-present need for computer science in essentially every aspect of business in the advanced world including manufacturing. For example, John Deere grew from strictly nuts-and-bolts equipment to highly technologically-advanced equipment that needs computer scientists to create and maintain programs to help run that equipment effectively. Thoney believes Sheridan College can be a leader in pushing the manufacturing industry forward technologically by pairing the two degrees while at Sheridan College.
“I look at manufacturing as just another opportunity for Sheridan, the college, the universities to train people to push that industry forward into the next century,” Thoney said.
Aside from manufacturing-specific projects, Rendall works with companies and entrepreneurial start-up businesses that utilize the currently established technological infrastructure in Sheridan.
“Because of technology and the fact that you can use technology to do so many remote things, I believe that you can be virtual from Sheridan just like you can be from anywhere,” Rendall said.
With companies like Weatherby moving into Sheridan and working hand-in-hand with Sheridan College, large opportunities sit at the helm of the institution to make waves in both the manufacturing and computer science industries, both locally and globally.