ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Foundation for Physical Therapy recognized Lake Area Technical Institute’s PTA Program with the Most Successful PTA Newcomer Award for the 2014-2015 Miami-Marquette Challenge.  This award is given to the PTA school who raises the most money out of other first-time participants.

The award recipients of the 2014-2015 Miami-Marquette Challenge were announced during the Foundation’s 2015 Gala at APTA’s NEXT Conference and Exposition in National Harbor, MD on June 4. Physical therapist and physical therapist assistant students from 146 schools across the country raised $275,423 to support physical therapy research.

The Challenge is the Foundation’s signature annual fundraising campaign and since its inception in 1989, 235 schools have participated in raising over $3 million for physical therapy research.

Since 2002, the Challenge has specifically funded more than 20 research grants and scholarships, and also partially funded the $300,000 Clagett Family Research Grant in 2010.  The Challenge also annually supports the rigorous scientific review process for all Foundation grants and scholarships.

The Foundation for Physical Therapy was established in 1979 as a national, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of physical therapy care by providing support for scientifically based and clinically relevant physical therapy research and doctoral scholarships and fellowships.

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9 Jun 2015

Auto Program Receives National Accreditation

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD – The automotive training program at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown has received accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The program has been master certified since 2010 and recently completed the recertification process.  LATI’s automotive program was accredited in all eight areas of ASE in addition to the related math and science classes.

To achieve this coveted recognition, the school’s automotive training program underwent rigorous evaluation by NATEF. “The recertification process was completed over 16 months and involved working closely with our advisory board and NATEF to make certain our program met the strict industry standards,” LATI Automotive Technology Department Supervisor Brad Herding said.  “The process concluded with an onsite visit, which consisted of a NATEF representative and two other automotive technicians who assisted with the review process. We are now certified through 2020.”

Upon completion of the evaluation, NATEF recommended LATI be accredited by The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

“This is great news for automotive-minded young people and their parents,” said Donald Seyfer, NATEF Chair. “Because this program increases cooperation between local education and industry leaders, it gives added assurance that Lake Area Tech’s graduates will be employable entry-level technicians. As a result of the quality education provided by Lake Area Tech, the motoring public will benefit since better repair technicians will join the work force.”

ASE is a national non-profit organization which tests and certifies repair technicians, in addition to accrediting automotive training programs.

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27 Apr 2015

LATI Students Place at SkillsUSA Competition

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD - Students from the Lake Area Technical Institute SkillsUSA Chapter recently competed in the South Dakota SkillsUSA annual competition held on the campus of Lake Area Tech. Congratulations to the following Lake Area Tech students who placed in their respective categories:

First Place:

Ethan Szilvasi (Pierre, SD) Automotive Refinishing; Josh Sime (Revillo, SD) Cabinetmaking; Adam Schroeder (West Fargo, ND) Carpentry; Chris Waldner (Watertown, SD) Collision Repair; Colin Buckley (Kapolei, HI) Computer Programming; Alicyn Jungwirth (Athol, SD) Cosmetology; Jerred Schreur (Sioux Falls, SD) Criminal Justice; Michelle Pederson (Watertown, SD) Customer Service: Thomas Weisgram (Aberdeen, SD) Diesel Equipment Technology; Derrick Gutormson (Watertown, SD) and Isaac Weseloh (Pflugerville, TX) Team A – Digital Cinema Production; Audra Arampatzis (Aberdeen, SD) Esthetics; Shawna Conrad (Brookings, SD) Extemporaneous Speaking; Dylan Hanten (Goodwin, SD) Internetworking; Shawna Conrad (Brookings, SD) Job Interview; Darin Homola (Watertown, SD) Welding; Patrick Aeschbacher (Winner, SD), Sam Aeschbacher (Winner, SD), and Jacob Erickson (Brookings, SD) Team B – Welding Fabrication; and Alex Schaffer (Kimball, SD) Welding Sculpture

Second Place:

Bradley Eichmann (Winfred, SD) Automotive Service Technology; Austin Krieger (Sisseton, SD) Computer Programming; Amber Powell (Lake Preston, SD) Cosmetology; Alexis Buysse (Tracy, MN) Criminal Justice; Colter Jones (Rapid City, SD) Diesel Equipment Technology; Alexander Clelland (Arlington, SD) Information Technology Services; Eric Wise (Watertown, SD) Internetworking; Thomas Hamling (Rapid City, SD) Welding; Lance Sherman (Tea, SD), Mitch Duncan (Sherman, SD), and Ryan Woodring (Tea, SD) Team A – Welding Fabrication; and Jacob Holbrook (Marshall, MN) Welding Sculpture

Third Place:

Kirsten Webskowski (Marshall, MN) Cosmetology; Zachari Meyer (Watertown, SD) Criminal Justice; Kira  Tschetter (Tulare, SD) Customer Service; Lance White (Castlewood, SD) Diesel Equipment Technology; Devin Bagaus (Milbank, SD) Internetworking; Thad Barth (Brandon, SD) Welding; and Austin Larson (DeSmet, SD) Welding Sculpture

All first place recipients are eligible to advance to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference June 22-26 in Louisville, KY, where more than 6,000 students will compete. SkillsUSA is a national organization that serves trade, industrial, technical, and health occupations students in high schools and postsecondary technical institutes.

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Recipients of The mikeroweWORKS Foundation tool scholarships at Lake Area Technical Institute are (left photo) Colter Jones from Rapid City, SD; and (right photo) Tanner Boggs from Pringle, SD. Both are pictured with Lake Area Tech ThinkBIG program instructor Corey Mushitz.

WATERTOWN, SD – Lake Area Technical Institute Caterpillar ThinkBIG students Colter Jones of Rapid City, SD, and Tanner Boggs of Pringle, SD, are each the recipients of a $1000 Tools Scholarship funded by The mikeroweWORKS Foundation and awarded in partnership with The AED Foundation, an affiliate of Associated Equipment Distributors (AED).  Jones and Boggs are enrolled in the Caterpillar ThinkBIG program and are sponsored by Butler Machinery.

Recipients of the scholarship are selected based on academic and skill performance in the Caterpillar ThinkBIG program.  Students who receive the scholarship must also be enrolled an AED-affiliated school. Boggs and Jones will graduate from Lake Area Technical Institute in May of 2015 with Associate of Applied Science degrees in Diesel Technology, with Caterpillar endorsements.  They have both been secured for employment by Butler Machinery, Boggs in Pierre and Jones in Rapid City.

You may have first become familiar with Mike Rowe as the creator and host of the widely-watched and acclaimed show “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel.  Rowe’s new series Somebody’s Gotta Do It, brings viewers face-to-face with men and women who march to the beat of a different drum. In each episode, Rowe visits unique individuals and joins them in their respective undertakings, paying tribute to innovators, do-gooders, entrepreneurs, collectors, fanatics–people who simply have to do it.

What you may not know is that Mike Rowe is doing much to promote hard work and support the skilled trades in a variety of areas.  His Foundation is focused on helping students to become aware of high demand construction career opportunities, and align their skills and knowledge to take advantage of them. These tools scholarships are representative of his unique “boots on the ground” approach to technical workforce development.  Visit to learn more about Mike Rowe’s passion for construction industry workforce development and his “no nonsense” approach.  Get a good perspective of the breadth and depth of his commitment.  Here, many resources are also available to provide students with information and help them explore their career options.

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Textbook-free courses, wireless networks, online transfer fairs and proctoring are among services provided to students.

Watertown, SD – e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education (CDE) has announced the results and 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 tenth year, the survey analyzes how community colleges use digital technologies to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community at large. Findings include: 58% support student job placement through online resume-building tools, 43% have strategies in place for the use of mobile devices, and 81% of colleges surveyed use cloud computing services resulting in cost savings.

“Technology is being used on campuses and in lecture halls to lower costs and improve student outcomes,” said Alan Cox, Senior Vice President for the Center for Digital Education. “This year’s survey indicates that 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. 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 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 insight to help effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century. CDE is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

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APRIL 13, 2015   WATERTOWN, SD Lake Area Technical Institute is honored and privileged to join the White House in announcing that President Barack Obama will be Lake Area Tech’s commencement speaker to the graduating class of 2015.

The White House announced today its intentions for President Obama to speak at the ceremony.   The release noted that Lake Area Technical Institute is one of the top community colleges in the nation, and is recognized for rigorously preparing its students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century economy.   With graduation rates among the highest in the nation, Lake Area Technical Institute focuses on providing its graduates smooth pathways to high skilled careers with private-sector businesses.

Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney comments,  “Imagine how meaningful obtaining your college degree becomes when the President of the United States is your commencement speaker?  I cannot even begin to explain the feeling I had when the White House called with this news! This is a once in a lifetime phone call that left me overwhelmed and speechless, yet filled with so much pride for Lake Area Tech, this community and our business partners.  My heart and thoughts go to the great district leadership, staff and students of Lake Area Tech.  Their hard work, dedication and innovation epitomize that it is not about being the best, but doing your best – and the rest will follow. This is what makes Lake Area Tech such a magical place.”

Lake Area Technical Institute is the only college in the nation to be named a Finalist with Distinction in each of Aspen Institute’s three Community College Excellence competitions.  Lake Area Tech participated in the Administration’s Champions of Change in 2011, and most recently was invited to the White House for the College Opportunity Day.  Lake Area Tech joined other Aspen Finalists in making commitments to help the nation meet President Obama’s goal of raising the number of Americans with post-secondary degrees.  With graduations among the highest in the country, the colleges commitment was two-fold.  First, to redefine success as placement. Secondly, LATI is focusing on getting industry more engaged in student success.  President Cartney explains, “Lake Area Tech is working with other Aspen Excellence Prize finalists to meet a commitment to the White House to raise the number of our graduates by 2020. Lake Area Tech is redefining success from graduation to placement.  This subtle adjustment changes the whole conversation and focus with potential and current students.  Rather than discussing degrees, which is an abstract concept to many new students, we are discussing what they want to be, what they want their future to be, and then laying out an educational path for them to get there.   Things become immediately more relevant.  This subtle change matches who Lake Area Tech is, how we do business – it has helped us find our identity.”

The forty-eighth annual graduation ceremony will begin at 4:00 pm at the Watertown Civic Arena.  The official announcement notes that further details about the President’s travel to South Dakota will be provided in the coming days.


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WATERTOWN, SD – Julie Kalahar, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Department Supervisor for Lake Area Technical Institute’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program, has been selected for induction into the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Leaders & Legacies Society. The ceremony will take place during the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Gala in Nashville, TN, on April 17.

To be considered, nominees are required to demonstrate a continuous commitment to the profession through personal involvement in advancing occupational therapy at local, state, and/or national levels. Throughout her career, Kalahar’s contributions to the occupational therapy field have included published field-related articles, presentations at local and state health events, volunteer service to OT and non-OT health organizations, AOTA committee service and leadership roles, and numerous volunteer experiences at local health and non-health related events.

“When I see the list of other members who are being inducted as inaugural members of the Leaders and Legacies Society of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, I cannot believe I am among this list of distinguished individuals,” she said.  “There are true legends of the occupational therapy profession in this group, people I have looked up to for years. I love my profession and work very hard to inspire students and practitioners to be leaders in occupational therapy.”

A graduate of USD’s Occupational Therapy program, Kalahar practiced occupational therapy in area healthcare facilities prior to joining the Lake Area Tech OTA program in 1998. She has been the OTA program director since 2000.

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2 Apr 2015

Students Prepare For 10th Annual Car Show

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD – The Lake Area Technical Institute Car Club will host its 10th annual Car Show, Trade Expo & Swap Meet for a Cause Saturday, April 18, 2015. The event will be held 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.

New this year is a Trade Expo and Swap Meet. Booth availability is on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Trade Expo booth fee is $150 and the Swap Meet booth fee is $10.

Funds raised from the show are designated each year to a cause selected by the students. For fourth year in a row, the students chose to donate the proceeds from the annual Car Show and Car Care events to Make-A-Wish South Dakota. Last year, the LATI Car Club donated from these events $2085.53 to the local chapter.

Admission for the public is $1 and concessions will be available. To register for the Car Show, Trade Expo (new parts) or Swap Meet (used parts), contact the Lake Area Tech Automotive Department at 605.882.5284 ext. 219, email, or click here:

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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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