WATERTOWN, SD – The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has awarded the distinguished Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant of the Year award to Lake Area Technical Institute’s Brad Thuringer. At LATI, Thuringer is a Physical Therapist Assistant program instructor and academic coordinator of clinical education.

Each year, APTA honors outstanding achievements of its members in the areas of overall accomplishment, education, practice and service, publications, research, and academic excellence. Thuringer has been an active member of APTA since 1997, and has contributed to, represented, and promoted the role of the PTA to multiple components and groups at the local, state, and national levels.

At Lake Area Tech, Thuringer is a role model for his students and other PTAs. He founded Shoes4Kids, a charitable foundation that distributes shoes to children in need. Annually, the foundation targets communities in which the APTA Annual Conference is held, and over the years Thuringer has solicited contributions that have provided more than 8,500 pairs of new shoes and socks to children. He has raised funds for PTA scholarships at Lake Area Tech, and pledged personal funds for this effort.

“I am truly honored to be selected as the recipient of APTA’s Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Award,” Thuringer said.  “I especially wish to thank HPA The Catalyst, the Section on Health Policy & Administration for coordinating the preparation of my nomination package. I would like to thank my wife Anita, son Tyler, and daughters Alexis and MaKenzie for their perpetual tolerance and support of my professional activities that often imposed upon our family life. Any accomplishments that may be credited to me would not have been possible without your support. I would like to thank my many good friends and PT family. You have always been there for me and believe in me as a person. I can’t thank you enough! Finally, I’d like to thank LATI President Mike Cartney and my colleagues at Lake Area Technical Institute, Chris Barrett, PT, MEd, and Brenda Norton, PTA, BS, for supporting my service endeavors, even when it took my attention and energies elsewhere. Thank you for allowing me to express my passion for physical therapy.”

Thuringer earned his Physical Therapist Assistant A.A.S. degree at Lake Area Technical Institute and also holds an Associate of Arts Degree in Education from Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Thuringer will be recognized during the APTA Honors and Awards Ceremony and Reception in June during the NEXT Conference and Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland.

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18 Mar 2015

Lake Area Tech Earns Top 3 Aspen Honors

Author: Karen | Filed under: Uncategorized

Lake Area Technical Institute Named One of Top Three Community Colleges in America by Aspen Institute; Chosen as Finalist-with-Distinction from 1,123 Nationwide for Third Time

Lake Area Technical Institute awarded $100,000 prize for achieving outstanding outcomes in: learning, degree completion, minority and low-income student success, and employment and earnings

Washington, DC, March 18, 2015 – The Aspen Institute announced today that Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown, South Dakota is a Finalist-with-Distinction for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Selected from 1,123 community colleges nationwide, this is the third time LATI has been awarded this honor along with $100,000 in Prize funds.

“Today we celebrate in the company of an esteemed group of Top 10 community colleges who work every day to improve the lives of seven million community college students nationwide,” LATI President Mike Cartney commented. “We are extremely proud to be named a finalist with distinction for the third time in a row – the only college in history to attain that status every consecutive time. It is a tribute to our faculty, staff and leadership who strive each and every day to improve student outcomes on our campus.  It’s not about being the best, it is about doing our best and the rest will follow!”
The Aspen Prize, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges, is awarded every two years and recognizes institutions for outstanding outcomes in four areas: student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

This year’s Aspen Prize winner, Santa Fe College (Gainesville, FL), will receive $800,000, while a second finalist-with-distinction, West Kentucky Community & Technical College, and the “Rising Star” recipient, Kennedy-King College (Chicago, IL), will receive $100,000 prizes. (See full list of Top Ten Prize Finalists below and read more information about them at

“Lake Area Tech has a graduation rate that rivals most top-tier four-year colleges,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and author of What Excellent Community Colleges Do. “Every faculty and staff member has a single-minded focus: ensuring students succeed and are prepared for careers in good, available jobs.”

Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) has been a finalist-with-distinction each of the three years the Aspen Prize has been awarded since 2011. Its graduation/transfer rate is among the highest in the nation, fueled by its highly structured programs of defined courses and hands-on educational approach. LATI’s 2,000 students, most attending full-time, are guided into a technical program when they enroll – based on their aptitude, goals and interests – and guided on a clear pathway to a degree or certificate. LATI faculty track student success from start to finish and also work with local employers to build and fine-tune their exemplary workforce training programs to provide students with the exact skills they need to be job-ready. The college is part of a solid, perpetual employment loop with regional employers investing heavily in LATI and its students, providing equipment, scholarships, and field experiences and collaborating with instructors and hiring LATI graduates who then go on, as employers themselves to continue the cycle.

Student outcomes:

  • 73% graduation/transfer rate, among highest in the nation (40% national average)
  • 98% of graduates are employed or continuing their education six months after graduation
  • Graduates earn 49% more than  other new hires in the region

Community colleges today enroll more than 40 percent of all US undergraduates – 7 million students – working toward degrees and certificates. These include rapidly growing numbers of lower-income and minority students. While nationwide, fewer than half of all community college students graduate, Aspen Prize finalist institutions demonstrate that community colleges can help students achieve higher levels of success while in college and after they graduate.

At today’s Prize announcement event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, national and state leaders joined in celebrating the program and the accomplishments of the finalists.  Speakers included Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States; Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee – the first state in the nation to offer free community college; and Aspen Prize Jury co-chairs Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana, and former Representative George Miller (D-CA).

“So many Americans are relying on community colleges to provide the stepping stones to a college degree and a better future,” Dr. Biden said.  “Our nation’s prosperity truly depends on our higher education system delivering more high-quality degrees to an increasingly diverse group of students. This is the time for community colleges to shine, and the institutions Aspen honors today are leading by example.”

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9 Mar 2015

First Great Idea Winners Named

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN – The first Great Idea student competition was held this week in Lake Area Technical Institute’s new MakerSpace area. The competition invited Lake Area Tech students to present an entrepreneurial idea to a panel of judges. The ideas were judged on a number of criteria including creativity, potential, and student knowledge.

The winners and their ideas are:

$300 1st Place  – Chris Marotz, an Entrepreneurship program student from Watertown with his South Dakota Winery Association idea.

$200 2nd Place  – Melodi Boke, an Occupational Therapy Assistant student from Faulkton with her Laptop Cover idea.

$100 3rd Place – Shania Jensen, an Entrepreneurship program student from Beresford with her Silverwrap idea.

Other finalists receiving $50 were:

Taylor Duncan, Business Associate Marketing & Management program student from Watertown and  Austin Hier, an Entrepreneurship program student from Aberdeen with their Word on the Street idea; and Steve Hamman, a Robotics student from Milbank with his Treadmill Bike idea.

Pictured above:

Great Idea student competition winners pictured from left to right: Steve Hamman, finalist; Austin Hier and Taylor Duncan finalists; Shania Jensen, third place;  Melodi Boke, second place; and Chris Marotz, first place.

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WATERTOWN, SD – Lake Area Technical Institute is taking the recently-launched Build Dakota Scholarship program a step further by partnering with our community to increase the number of full-ride scholarships made possible by a $25 million donation from T. Denny Sanford and a $25 million grant by Gov. Dennis Daugaard from the South Dakota Future Fund.

Lake Area Tech is teaming up with the private sector to offer the Stretch the Million, Grow Your Workforce program. “Stretch the Million is a way for industry and the public to help us scholarship more students by partnering with Build Dakota and ‘splitting’ a full-ride scholarship into two full-rides,” said LATI President Mike Cartney.  Prairie Lakes Healthcare System has already committed to provide two Stretch the Million scholarships, one in nursing and one in Medical Lab Tech.  “It’s all about getting more people in South Dakota’s skilled workforce pipeline by including public participation in the effort, and Prairie Lakes is leading the charge,” he said.

LuAnn Strait, LATI Director of Student Services, said all new students accepted to any of the eligible programs at LATI should apply for the scholarship. “You never know when another Stretch the Million sponsor will come forward and enable us to give that extra scholarship.  We are on a tight timeline and have more than a million dollars in full-ride scholarships to award for Fall of 2015. That’s 60 to 70 scholarships for eligible applicants.”  Strait went on to explain that although the initial deadline is March 31, new students can continue to apply and LATI will continue to award scholarships until classes have started in August.

Build Dakota supports students entering high-need workforce programs at South Dakota’s technical institutes to fill the state’s technical career fields with skilled professionals. At Lake Area Tech, eligible programs include Automotive Technology, Building Trades, Diesel Technology/CAT ThinkBIG program, Energy Technology/Energy Operations, Electronics Technology, Heavy Equipment Operator, Medical Lab Tech, Practical Nursing, Precision Machining, Robotics, and Welding. LATI is specifically expanding capacity in four programs and targeting scholarships in Nursing Online, Precision Machining Online, Robotics Online and Welding.

In order to be awarded a full-ride scholarship from Build Dakota, applicants must be a new student accepted into a high-needs program, agree to work in South Dakota for three years post-graduation, maintain a 2.5 grade point average, be a full-time student, and complete the program of study on time.  Stretch the Million recipients may be asked to also enter an agreement with their sponsoring business with additional obligations and commitments.

Area businesses that are interested in learning more about the Stretch the Million program should contact the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation Office at 1-605-882-5284 or 1-800-657-4344.

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24 Feb 2015

MakerSpace Fosters Innovative Creativity at LATI

Author: Karen | Filed under: Uncategorized

A new, collaborative space for students and staff at Lake Area Technical Institute is opening this week. The MakerSpace area is a dedicated room designed to promote shared interaction amongst students, faculty, and staff in a creative environment.

MakerSpace offers its users a place to “Think it, Design it, and Build it.” The area is equipped with tools, equipment, and supplies to help foster creativity through 3D printing, painting, crafting, metalwork, and many other avenues.

“The talent across Lake Are Tech is vast,” LuAnn Strait, LATI Director of Student Services, said. “We’re encouraging staff and students to partner with each other and use MakerSpace as a creative and imaginative outlet. The possibilities are virtually endless.”

MakerSpace is a unique, one-of-its-kind venture at the post-secondary education level in South Dakota.

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WATERTOWN, SD – Applications are available starting today for full-ride Build Dakota Scholarships. At Lake Area Tech in Watertown, eligible programs include Automotive Technology, Building Trades Technology, Diesel Technology/CAT ThinkBIG program, Energy Technology/Energy Operations, Electronic Systems Technology, Heavy Equipment Operator, Medical Lab Technician, Practical Nursing and Practical Nursing E-degree (at Huron, Sisseton, and Aberdeen), Precision Machining and Precision Machining E-degree, Robotics and Robotics E-degree, and Welding Technology.

“When you step back and look at the real impact of Mr. Sanford’s gift and matching funds from Governor Daugaard, offering these scholarships at South Dakota’s Technical Institutes gives people more than just a scholarship, it gives them CAREERS and brightens their future!” remarked Mike Cartney, LATI President.  “Amplifying the impact of this gift through additional industry support is the goal of our Stretch the Million, Grow Your Workforce campaign.”
Build Dakota scholarships are available for new, incoming students for the 2015-16 school year. Covered expenses will include tuition and fees, books, equipment and other related program expenses. Scholarship recipients must commit to stay in South Dakota to work in their field of study for three years following graduation.

The early-bird deadline for the Build Dakota Scholarships is March 31, 2015. In-state and out-of-state students are eligible to apply and scholarship applicants must be accepted into their program of interest. Recipients of the scholarship must enroll full-time and complete their educational program on schedule.

The Build Dakota Scholarship program was announced in late 2014. It is made possible by a $25 million donation from T. Denny Sanford and a $25 million grant by Gov. Dennis Daugaard from the South Dakota Future Fund. Build Dakota aims to support students entering high-need workforce programs at South Dakota’s technical institutes to fill the state’s technical career fields with skilled professionals.

To complete an application or for more information, please visit and click on the Build Dakota banner or call Lake Area Tech at 605-882-5284 or 1-800-657-4344.

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Watertown, SD – The third-annual All-Campus Read is underway at Lake Area Tech in a campus-wide effort to encourage reading for fun.

“All-Campus Read was organized to promote literacy and enjoyment through reading,” explained LATI Librarian Nicki Yackley-Franken. “Our goal is to encourage Lake Area Tech students and staff to read for pleasure.”

Interactive activities will complement the book selected for the group to read: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Participants are invited to join in activities such as online and guided discussions. An interview contest for Lake Area Tech staff students is also planned in conjunction with the book. More details regarding the events as well as a link to the All-Campus Read Facebook page can be found on the Lake Area Tech website at

LATI All-Campus Read activities will conclude with the announcement of the All-Campus Read interview winners on April 17.

Students, staff, and readers of all ages are invited to join the LATI-All Campus Read. To participate, simply pick up a copy of the book, watch for upcoming events on the website, and start reading!

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9 Feb 2015

Speakers Sought for TEDxLATI Event

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

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

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

“We enthusiastically invite people who will inspire, encourage, embrace, excite, and motivate others to speak at this event,” said LATI Educational Technology Specialist Samantha Walder. “We are searching for people who are willing to share their experiences with our audience and whose words will encourage them to positively make a difference in the world.”

For more information or to submit an application to speak at TEDxLATI, please visit Speaker applications are due February 27 and speakers will be notified by March 4.

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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WATERTOWN, SD – Lake Area Technical Institute is hosting Financial Aid Saturday on February 28, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Student Center. The event is free and open to all students who plan to attend any college in the fall of 2015.

During the event, Financial Aid 101 will take place at three different times: 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., or 1:00 p.m. for students and parents. These optional informative sessions will shed light on the financial aid process and the deadlines associated with it as well as offer an opportunity to have questions answered by the financial aid staff. In addition, financial aid staff members will be available throughout the day to assist students with completing their FAFSA form.

Students and parents should bring a laptop, 2014 tax information/records of untaxed information, cash savings and checking account balances, investment information (other than your home), social security card or number, date of birth record, and a valid driver’s license.

Registration is encouraged for the event and can be completed at or by calling 605-882-5284 or 1-800-657-4344 extension 274. The LATI Student Center is located at 1201 Arrow Avenue in Watertown. In the event of inclement weather that would require rescheduling of the event, please visit for that information.

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28 Jan 2015


Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

JANUARY 28, 2015   WATERTOWN, SD…..    Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney announced today the school has reached a significant milestone enrollment figure. Following last week’s final spring semester student count, it was determined 2,020 students are enrolled through on-campus, online, and dual status classes. This record enrollment number is an increase of 26% over last year’s spring semester number. The overall combined numbers of the fall and spring semesters helped Lake Area Tech meet a long-established goal.

President Cartney commented, “It has been a long-term goal at Lake Area Tech to reach the 2,000 student mark,” he said. “We are very pleased to exceed that number with 2,020 new and returning students enrolled here for the spring semester. This is nothing but good news for business and industry and the work force shortages they are facing.”

Cartney continued, “Lake Area Tech has been privileged to experience the continued growth of the institute and the overwhelming success of its graduates. Our success can be attributed to our exceptional staff, the great partnerships we have with business and industry, and strong community and statewide partnerships.”

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