Distinction by The Chronicle of Higher Education Includes Special Honor Roll Status

Watertown, SD – For the sixth consecutive year, Lake Area Technical Institute is one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to the latest survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The results, released today in The Chronicle’s seventh-annual report on The Academic Workplace, are based on a survey of more than 43,000 employees at 278 colleges and universities across the country. In addition, Lake Area Tech once again earned the distinction of being a 2014 Honor Roll school, a result of its high rankings in the categories surveyed. LATI is the only South Dakota college included on the Honor Roll.

In all, 92 of the 278 institutions surveyed achieved “Great College to Work For ®”recognition for specific best practices and policies. Of those, only 42 colleges, which include Lake Area Tech, achieved Honor Roll status. Lake Area Tech employees rated the institution highly enough to win Honor Roll honors in the following categories: Collaborative Governance, Confidence in Senior Leadership, Job Satisfaction, Professional/Career Development Programs, Respect and Appreciation, Supervisor or Department Chair Relationship, and Teaching Environment.

“At Lake Area Tech, every job is focused on getting our students launched into a good career,” said Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney. “We do that through a collaborative, open, and mission-driven environment that values everyone’s contributions. To have staff verify that Lake Area Tech is a ‘great place to work’ for the sixth consecutive year affirms our efforts.  No other school in the nation in our category has made the Honor Roll six times.”

The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies from each institution, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators, and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was the employee feedback.

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital-consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide.

“The institutions that the Great Colleges program recognizes provide innovative educational experiences – while also offering their employees outstanding workplace experiences – and we are eager to help readers learn more about them,” said Liz McMillen, The Chronicle’s editor.

Great Colleges to Work For® is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the country. For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit The Chronicle’s website at .

Comments Off
16 Jul 2014

Lake Area Tech Recognized in National Workforce Report

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD – Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown received top billing in a report presented to Vice-President Joe Biden on the future of workforce development. LATI’s incorporation of a hands-on approach with students and the local industrial community was noted first under the report’s “Actively Engage Local Business – Who’s Doing it Right” section.

ThirdWay presented the report, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs,” to Vice-President Biden and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.  The report stemmed from a policy forum held last month on the future of the American workforce of which former LATI President Deb Shephard was a participant. The report has been posted at

Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney notes that, “Being cited in the report to Vice-President Biden reflects the importance LATI places on our ties with the community and regional businesses.  It is those ties that enable LATI to provide superior educational experiences for our students, and great careers for our graduates.”

Comments Off
9 Jun 2014

President Shephard Participates in Workforce Forum

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

LATI President Deb Shephard participated in a policy forum featuring a detailed presentation by Vice President Joe Biden and a moderated panel by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on the future of the American workforce. Deb was one of 14 national leaders invited to attend.
Pictured below are Vice-President Biden, Deb, and Secretary Perez.

Click here for Third Way’s press release on the event:

13 May 2014

Diane Stiles to Fill Vice-President Position

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD – Diane Stiles has been named the next Vice-President of Lake Area Technical Institute. Stiles, a finalist candidate for the position of President, will assume the Vice-President position July 1, 2014.

Stiles comes to LATI from Northwest Kansas Technical College where she served as Assistant Vice-President for Student Affairs before moving to a leadership role in Academic Affairs. In addition to her post-secondary experience, she previously served as the Executive Director of the Norton County Economic Development and served as an English Professor in Beijing, China. Stiles has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Master of Arts in Education. She is originally from Lenora, Kansas. She and her husband, Asa, have two children.

Michael Cartney, Lake Area Tech’s incoming President, said, “We are proud to announce Diane Stiles as the next Vice-President of LATI.  Finding the right person is crucial for us and Diane brings the right combination of ability, innovation and personality to bolster the LATI team,” he said. “Diane’s experience at another technical institute will give us fresh perspectives as we continue to raise our level of excellence.”

24 Apr 2014

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.  Lake Area Tech students received 10 first place, 10 second place, and three third place honors. Congratulations to the following students who placed in their respective categories:

First Place:

Branden Thyen (Waverly, SD), Cabinetry; Jordan Spilde (Watertown, SD),  Carpentry; Justin Anderson, (Stockholm, SD), Internetworking; Brandon Carpenter (Dell Rapids, SD), Teamworks B; Andrew Harwood (Crawford, NE), Teamworks B; Jason Keltgen (Watertown, SD), Teamworks B; Scott Moeller (Watertown, SD), Teamworks B; Justin Moes (Kranzburg, SD), Welding Sculpture; Seth Carsten (Kimball, SD), Power Equipment Tech; Tom Hamling (Rapid City, SD), Welding

Second Place:

Josh Sime (Revillo, SD), Cabinetry; Jordan Phibbs (Windom, MN), Carpentry; Cory Anderson, (Watertown, SD), Collision Repair Tech; Justin Bach (Belle Fourche, SD), Diesel Equipment Tech; McKayla Reppe (Clear Lake, SD), Internetworking; Tyler Brandenburger (Florence, SD), Teamworks A; Barak Hauck (Utica, SD), Teamworks A; Jordan Phibbs (Windom, MN), Teamworks A; Adam Schroeder (West Fargo, ND), Teamworks A; Austin Larson (DeSmet, SD), Welding

Third Place:

Lance White (Castlewood, SD), Automotive Service Tech; Kyle Jerzak (Watertown, SD), Cabinetry; Adam Schroeder (West Fargo, ND), Carpentry

All first place recipients are eligible to advance to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference June 23-27, in Kansas City 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. Nationally, SkillsUSA serves more than 300,000 students and instructors annually.

WATERTOWN, SD – The Watertown School Board named Lake Area Technical Institute Vice-President Michael Cartney the next president of Lake Area Tech during a special school board meeting Monday. Cartney, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, has been Vice-President at Lake Area Tech since 2007. He and his wife, Harriett, reside in Watertown.

“We look forward to Mike’s leadership and Lake Area Tech’s continuing progress as one of the top four two-year colleges in the nation,” said Dr. Lesli Jutting, Watertown School District Superintendent.

Cartney will assume the position on July 1, 2014, following the retirement of current Lake Area Tech President Deb Shephard.

“I am truly honored and humbled by the board’s decision and I enthusiastically accept the offer of President of Lake Area Technical Institute,” Cartney said.  “Lake Area Tech is my passion. I love LATI, its people, and its mission.  And, this community is where I grew up, its values are my values, its future is my future. I know there are some big shoes to fill with Deb’s departure.  Lake Area Tech is one of the top schools in the country and we will maintain that stature. Together, with the Board’s and Dr. Jutting’s support, I am up to the challenge.  I see a bright and innovative future for Lake Area Tech. A future focused on our students, and built on the foundation of culture, caring, regional partnerships, and national leadership that are the hallmarks of Lake Area Tech. I look forward to the future as I am sure that together, we can make great things happen.”

Born south of Pierre, Cartney moved to Watertown with his family in 1970 and graduated from Watertown High School in 1977. His father, Jim Cartney, founded Cartney Bearing, and Mike’s brother Ken and nephew Travis operate the Watertown and Aberdeen stores.

Cartney earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the Air Force Academy in 1981, an Organizational Leadership Certification from Squadron Officer School in 1984, a Master of Science degree in Numerical Analysis for EDP from Purdue University in 1986, a Senior Leadership Certification from International Command and Staff College in 1994, and was a National Fellow to Harvard University in 2000.

During his time at the Air Force Academy, Cartney taught and was aide-de-camp. While completing his fellowship at Harvard University, he was an associate professor and also wrote a Harvard Press publication, “The Art of Balancing Information Sharing and Security.” Cartney’s last military assignment was as liaison for the Air Force Academy to the White House and Congress. He is highly decorated for duty from the Cold War, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Desert Fox, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Global War on Terrorism, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle.

The Lake Area Technical Institute Car Club will host its ninth annual Car Show for a Cause Saturday, April 26, 2014. The car show and all events 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 registration from 10-11 a.m.

Show classes include Custom Paint & Fab Choice, Automotive Technology Choice, High Performance Engine Machining Choice, Best of Show, and People’s Choice.  Other events running throughout the day include a dunk tank and a 50/50 drawing.

Funds raised from the show are designated each year to a cause selected by the students. For the last two years, the students chose to donate the proceeds from the annual Car Show and Car Care event to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota. The local chapter received $2011.77. For the 2014 event, the Car Club members have again designated the proceeds to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota.

Admission for the public is $1 and concessions will be available. To register for the Car Show, contact the Lake Area Tech Automotive Department at 605.882.5284 ext. 219, email, or click here:

26 Mar 2014

Three To Interview for President’s Position

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

Three candidates have been chosen to interview for Lake Area Tech’s presidential position. Read the details here:

24 Mar 2014

Lake Area Tech Adds Agri-Aviation Option

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Board of Education approved the addition of an Aviation option for Lake Area Technical Institute’s Agriculture program.  The nine-month diploma option will begin this fall. Students may enter the option and graduate with a diploma or enter the option after completing LATI’s Agriculture or Aviation programs. Graduates of this option will obtain a private pilot’s license and be trained to work in the field of agriculture aviation as an aerial application pilot, aerial application technician, or aerial application owner/operator.

According to LATI President Deb Shephard, the Agri-Aviation option will be the first of its kind at technical institutes in South Dakota and one of only a handful in the nation. The option was developed because of a demand for ag pilots due to the rebound of general aviation and the Baby Boomer exodus from the job market.

“The program will draw students primarily from South Dakota, North Dakota, western Minnesota, and Nebraska but opportunity exists to draw from across the nation,” Shephard said. “LATI will primarily provide skilled workers to employers in South Dakota and neighboring states but, very feasibly, to any region of the country.” Shephard said.

For more information on the new Agri-Aviation option, please visit

WATERTOWN, SD – An innovative donation from Titan Machinery in Watertown will offer Lake Area Tech’s Diesel Technology students valuable hands-on experience with the latest global positioning technology.  Through the Lake Area Technical Institute Foundation, the company has donated a Trimble GPS System for installation in a Case Puma tractor to complement LATI’s existing technology.

“We recognize that it’s important for students to have access to advanced precision technology,” said Larry Nielsen, General Manager at Titan Machinery in Watertown.  “The wave of the future is here and we are pleased this GPS system will be used as a training module that provides students advanced learning opportunities.”

Using the new GPS system, students will gain practical hands-on training and experience that will offer them an advantage upon graduation. “Sending well-trained students into the work force is essential,” Carl Tesch, LATI Diesel Department Supervisor said. “We are grateful for Titan’s support and we look forward to implementing the new system into our program yet this semester.”

Currently, 128 students are enrolled in the Lake Area Tech Diesel Technology program.  The two-year curriculum teaches the complete general diesel knowledge along with specific emphasis in agriculture, industrial, and truck diesel.