The Center for Digital Education’s Digital Community Colleges Survey Awards honor community colleges that are using technology to improve how they deliver curriculum and services.

Watertown, SD – The Center for Digital Education (CDE) has announced the winners of its Digital Community Colleges Survey in which Lake Area Technical Institute earned a Top 10 spot in the Small Colleges category (under 5,000).

In its 11th year, the survey analyzes how community colleges use a range of technologies to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community at large. Award winners demonstrated innovative uses of technology, including online courses and mobile environments, mobile apps, secure platforms and wireless networks.

“This year’s survey indicates community colleges are making great strides in using data to improve decisions, providing professional development to assist faculty in the use of technology, and creating robust online and mobile environments for their students,” said Dr. Kecia Ray, executive director for the Center for Digital Education. “Congratulations to this year’s survey winners.”

All accredited U.S. community colleges were eligible to participate in the survey within three classifications based on size of enrollment. To see the results of the survey and to view the full list of colleges honored, visit

The Center for Digital Education (CDE) is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. CDE provides education and industry leaders with decision support and actionable insights to help effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century. Learn more at:

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5 Apr 2016

Accreditation Third Party Notice

Author: Karen | Filed under: Uncategorized

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Proceeds Benefit Operation Black Hills Cabin

WATERTOWN, SD – The Lake Area Technical Institute Car Club will host its 11th annual Car Show for a Cause Saturday, April 30, 2016. The event takes place in the Lake Area Tech Automotive Technology building from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The car show entry fee is $10.00 with race car registration from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. All other registrations take place from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Show classes include Custom Paint & Fab Choice, Automotive Technology Choice, High Performance Engine Machining Choice, Best of Show, and People’s Choice.

Funds raised from the show are designated each year to a cause selected by the students. This year, the students chose to donate proceeds from the annual Car Show and Car Care events to Operation Black Hills Cabin in Custer, SD. Operation Black Hills Cabin offers a week-long respite to qualifying combat-wounded veterans (and their families) from the Iraq/Afghanistan campaigns at little or no expense to them, except transportation. To maintain its affordability, Operation Black Hills Cabin relies on volunteerism for daily operations and monetary donations, fundraisers, and grants to pay for cabin upkeep, utilities, basic supplies for families, etc. For more information, please visit

“When the time came for students to vote on which charity they’d like their fundraising proceeds to benefit, Operation Black Hills Cabin won overwhelmingly,” said LATI Automotive Technology Department Supervisor Brad Herding.  “They were very passionate about supporting military families through this event so we invite everyone to the Car Show in support of Operation Black Hills Cabin.”

Admission for the public is $3 for individuals and $5 per family. Concessions will be available and t-shirts for the event are on sale now. To register for the Car Show, purchase an official t-shirt, or to learn more, contact the Lake Area Tech Automotive Department at 605.882.5284 ext. 219, email, or visit

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4 Apr 2016

Lake Area Tech Named South Dakota ACT Exemplar

Author: Karen | Filed under: Uncategorized

WATERTOWN, SD – Lake Area Technical Institute has been selected the South Dakota ACT Career Preparedness Exemplar by the South Dakota ACT Council. Lake Area Tech received the award for its demonstrated commitment to community partnerships and its success in career preparation and placement for its graduates. The award process is part of ACT’s fourth annual College and Career Readiness Campaign, its largest yet with 40 partner states.

ACT’s criteria for award consideration includes:

  • Student success indicators, including retention, graduation, and four-year college transfer rates (especially for underserved student populations)
  • Strength of relationships with local employers and high schools
  • Accessibility of career readiness assessments and career preparation programs
  • Support structure in place for students, especially those from underserved populations

Lake Area Tech will now be considered for National Semifinalist status by an ACT Selection Committee, which will narrow the field to four National Semifinalists. A National Selection Committee, composed of national education and workforce leaders, will choose from the Semifinalists the four National Exemplars, one per category. These National Exemplars, along with all state exemplars and semifinalists, will be honored in Washington, D.C. at the National Gala on College and Career Readiness on June 22, 2016.

To learn more about the ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign and view highlights from prior Campaigns, visit:

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14 Mar 2016

Speakers Sought for TEDxLATI Event

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

Media Contact: LuAnn Strait, Director of Student Services


March 2, 2016


WATERTOWN, SD – The TEDxLATI event will be held Thursday, September 15, 2016 in the Student Center at Lake Area Technical Institute from 9:00 am to 12:00 Noon. The independently organized event, licensed by TED, will feature local voices and TED Talk videos under the theme “It’s Your World.”

TEDxLATI event coordinators are now accepting applications for speakers interested in being part of this inspirational event.

“TEDxLATI is about inspiring our students to create a world that is infused with passion, empathy and a commitment to lifelong learning.” comments LATI Entrepreneurship program instructor, Melissa Meidinger.  “We are enthusiastically looking for speakers with unique ideas that bring our students beyond the physical walls of our building and show them they have the power to make a difference.”

For more information or to submit an application to speak at TEDxLATI, please visit  Speaker applications are due April 15 and speakers will be notified by April 22.

Launched in 2009, TEDx is a program of locally organized events that bring the community together to share a TED-like experience. Some of the best talks from TEDx events have gone on to be featured on and garnered millions of views from audiences across the globe.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California almost 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes on a diverse mix of topics. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The TED2014 Conference takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast in neighboring Whistler. TEDGlobal 2014 will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

TED’s media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; and TEDBooks, short e-books on powerful ideas. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, or on Facebook at http://

For information about TED’s upcoming conferences, visit registration

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22 Feb 2016

Community U Classes Begin March 1

Author: Karen | Filed under: Uncategorized

WATERTOWN, SD – Community U, a series of fun and informative classes, begins in Watertown March 1 and will feature a variety of topics offered to the public. Community U is a project of Watertown H2O-20, Lake Area Technical Institute, and the community of Watertown.

Classes begin Tuesday, March 1 and will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays through April 28. Each class is an introduction to a skill, hobby, or topic and will be presented by local community members at area businesses or Lake Area Technical Institute. The Spring 2016 Community U roster of classes includes a wide selection of topics including Estate Planning, Hot Hair Trends, Stained Glass, Succulent Gardening, Essential Oils, Beekeeping, Auctions/Auctioneering 101, Making Natural Soap, Intro to Meditation, Uptown Photo Walk, Gelli Plate Printing, Brewing Beer 101, Self-Publishing, and MakerSpace Make and Take.

Registration takes place through the Lake Area Tech website and the registration fee for each class is $5. (Additional supplies fees apply for select classes requiring materials). For a complete description of the classes or to register, visit and click on the Community U logo.

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Lake Area Technical Institute’s Physical Therapist Assistant program supervisor Chris Barrett can check “Author a Textbook” off of her bucket list.

In the Spring of 2014, Jones and Bartlett Publishers of Sudbury, Massachusetts, contacted Chris to ask if she would consider re-writing the current edition of the Introduction to Physical Therapist Practice for Physical Therapist Assistants. The textbook is the premier academic manual across the nation for the introductory course.

“In addition to my role as a PTA instructor, I’m also a physical therapist and I’m active in my profession,” she said.  “That perspective offered a wide range of experiences that I was able to contribute to the re-writing process.”

After reviewing the textbook, the goal of the re-write was to condense certain areas of the textbook and also add new chapters, Chris said. That goal was met, but the process was more involved than she had originally thought.

“Re-writing the textbook was more than condensing chapters and writing new chapters,” she said. “I also created instructor ancillaries which included accompanying text and pictures as well as Power Point presentations, sample tests, and end-of-chapter discussion questions and learning opportunities.”

All of her hard work became a reality in January 2016 when hard copies of the textbook were delivered to her office at Lake Area Tech. Since then, she’s heard from former students, peers, and friends offering their congratulations on her accomplishment. “It’s been a great professional process for me, but I’m a little overwhelmed by the attention.”

Soon, physical therapist assistant students and instructors from across the country will benefit from Chris’s efforts when the third edition of the Introduction to Physical Therapist Practice for Physical Therapist Assistants textbook is being used in their classrooms this fall.

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JANUARY 29, 2016   WATERTOWN, SD Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney proudly announces that LATI enrollment continues its remarkable upward trend this spring semester, topping last years’ numbers by 6%. With 342 students entering new programs this spring, the overall enrollment so far this year is 2138 students, which officially launches the college well beyond the significant two thousand student mark.

President Cartney comments, “We are excited to have over 2,100 students enrolled. Our continued growth is good for the college, community and the region, and in turn benefits the workforce.”  In addition to President Obama’s visit, our growth in the technically skilled workforce programs can be attributed to the foresight of Governor Daugaard and T Denny Sanford in establishing the full–ride Build Dakota Scholarship program.”  Students who are awarded the scholarship receive a free education with a commitment to work in South Dakota.

Cartney continues, “Lake Area Tech is privileged to experience the continued growth and overwhelming success of its graduates. Very few colleges throughout the country can say they have had twelve consecutive years of growth. Our success is attributed to our exceptional staff, the great partnerships we have with business and industry, and strong community and statewide support.”

Lake Area Tech was also notified that they have been chosen, for the fourth consecutive time, as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges making them eligible for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  Lake Area Tech has been awarded an Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Finalist with Distinction in 2011, 2013, and 2015.

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WATERTOWN, SD –The Practical Nursing faculty at Lake Area Technical Institute recently received notification that the pass rate for its graduates who took the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) examination in 2015 was an outstanding 98.11 percent. NCLEX is a national examination for licensing nurses in the United States and Canada and is designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities crucial for the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry-level, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Lake Area Tech Practical Nursing Program Supervisor Patty Foley credits the high NCLEX pass rate to the well-rounded, hands-on technical education at Lake Area Tech. “Our overall mission is to prepare individuals for licensure and safe nursing practice,” she said. “We feel through our challenging curriculum, that our students graduate prepared to write the licensure exam and become competent nurses. We also prepare them as individuals with communication and people skills, and also the academic ability to further their education, if they so wish.”

Foley said an active, current nursing license is required to practice nursing. “After graduating from a school of nursing, a student takes the NCLEX exam to receive his or her nursing license. The nursing license gives the individual the permission to practice nursing, granted by the state where he or she has met the requirements. To ensure public protection, each state board of nursing requires a candidate for licensure to pass the appropriate examination, in our case, the NCLEX- PN.”

Lake Area Tech offers three Practical Nursing options including:

  • a full-time, on-campus option (lasting 11 months, and begins each fall);
  • a full-time, online hybrid option completed mostly online, but with some travel to campus for clinicals, labs, and simulation (lasting 11 months, and begins each fall); and
  • a part-time, online hybrid option (lasting 22 months, and begins each January).

Acceptance into the Practical Nursing Program at Lake Area Tech is competitive. Each year the school receives two to three times as many applicants than there are open spots. For more information, please visit

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Contact: Gingle Lee

Program Manager, Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence


Washington, DC, January 26, 2016 –Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today again named Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) and Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI) among the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds, as well as Siemens Technical Scholars Program student scholarships.

The Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access and success for minority and low-income students. Both schools have made the list since the inception of the award and Lake Area Tech has been a Finalist with Distinction each time.

LATI President Mike Cartney and MTI President Mark Wilson issued a joint statement:

“Everyone in our organizations is focused on one mission: building South Dakota’s technically skilled workforce.  Our students can be confident their education prepares them for in-demand technical careers; business and industry can be assured our graduates are ready to tackle the challenges of today’s dynamic and technology-driven environment.  As a system of four technical schools, we are committed to continually improving.  National recognition like the Aspen College Excellence program affirms our efforts are making a difference.”

Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country. More than 6,300 students are currently enrolled in South Dakota’s technical institute system.

“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility in our country,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap to better student outcomes for community colleges nationwide.”

Tiffany Sanderson, Director of South Dakota’s Division of Career and Technical Education points out, “The four Technical Institutes in Watertown, Mitchell, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City do an outstanding job of preparing students as skilled scholars, ready to contribute to business’ goals and the communities where they live.  For half of our schools to be named to the nation’s top 15% of two year colleges, speaks heavily to their quality.”

A full list of the selected colleges and details on the selection process are available at

Scholarship Opportunities

For the first time, the 150 Prize-eligible institutions are also invited to nominate exceptional students enrolled in their best middle-skill STEM programs for scholarships. Up to 50 Siemens Technical Scholars will be selected from programs that provide outstanding preparation for high-demand jobs in manufacturing, energy, health care, and information technology. A partnership between the Siemens Foundation and the Aspen Institute, the Siemens Technical Scholars Program intends to help our nation’s community colleges and their business partners bridge the gap between projected shortages of skilled workers and the millions of high-demand jobs in these STEM industries. Scholarship winners and the programs that deliver rigorous training enabling their success will be announced in fall 2016. Lake Area Technical Institute was recognized this past year with three 2015 Siemens Technical Scholars. For more information and to view video profiles of 2015 Siemens Technical Scholars, go to:

Lake Area Technical Institute and Mitchell Technical Institute, along with 148 other community colleges, announced today were selected from a national pool of over 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes in three areas:

  • Performance (retention, graduation rates including transfers, and degrees and certificates per 100 full-time equivalent students)
  • Improvement (awarded for steady improvement in each performance metric over time)
  • Equity (evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students)

Lake Area Tech and Mitchell Tech have been invited to submit an application to the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence containing detailed data on degree and certificate completion (including progress and transfer rates), labor market outcomes (employment and earnings), and student learning outcomes.

Ten finalists will be named in fall 2016. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2017.


The Aspen Prize is funded by the Joyce Foundation, the Siemens Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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