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In the Know: Business partners help ATCC students

In my last article, I discussed the many partnerships Alexandria Technical and Community College has with our four-year partners for those students desiring to transfer on to a four-year college or university. In this article, I want to highlight some of the partnerships the college has with our business and industry partners.

My idea for this article came about back in September of this year as I was looking out my window and saw quite a few of our students boarding buses for some kind of field trip. I found out it was our Early Childhood Education (ECED) students going to visit 16 different sites such as childcare centers, elementary and preschools, HeadStarts, and the YMCA's new intergenerational site at Knute Nelson. The goal of the tour was to help our students, many of whom are new to the area, to learn where the early childhood lab sites and schools are located. As part of the ECED program at the college, students participate in practicums, internships, labs, and volunteer opportunities with many of our local providers. In fact, many of the college's programs provide some type of internship or practicum experiences. These experiences often lead to graduates being offered employment at one of the many facilities in the region.

Other programs at the college take students to a variety of business and industry sites so students can gain an understanding of those work environments. Examples include carpentry students going to Marvin Windows in Warroad and Interior Design students going to Kohler Design in Wisconsin. The college's Powersports students attend auctions at Big Iron to see the latest releases in the powersports, farm, and construction equipment industries. Machine Tool and Mechatronic students participate in tours of local manufacturers, giving them a sense of what they can do upon graduation. Diesel Mechanic students have the opportunity to participate in a summer internship program. Nursing, Medical Laboratory, and Speech-Language Pathology Assistant students obtain clinical experience at a variety of health care facilities in the area.

During fall semester, the college has Manufacturing/Transportation Tour Days where over 30 high schools bring students to campus for a half day to spend time with current students and faculty in a variety of programs. The second half of the tour day is spent out at regional industries, allowing students to see how the transition works from college to the workforce.

In addition to off campus tours with many of the college's business and industry partners, ATCC has two Open House events where faculty, staff, and current students, alumni, and industry welcome many prospective students and their families for the purpose of exploring the college's programs. For students who cannot attend an Open House event, the college offers general tours throughout the year.

Business and industry support of ATCC and its programs is outstanding! Whether its industry tours, practicum or internship experiences, it is a win-win for everyone — students, employers and the college. Partnerships continue to be one of the cornerstones of technical education and workforce development.

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Laura Urban is the president of the Alexandria Technical and Community College. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.