9 Sep 2014

Lake Area Tech Grows 11 Straight Years

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

For the eleventh consecutive year, Lake Area Tech has surpassed its record fall semester enrollment with a new total of 1729 students. That number is an 8.5% increase over last fall semester’s enrollment of 1593 students. The increase is driven by a strong return of upperclassmen, a new Law Enforcement program, fourteen programs achieving full enrollment, a significant increase in Dual Status enrollment numbers, and a 9.7% enrollment of online E-Degree seeking students.  In addition, over 300 students are enrolled this fall in LATI’s Agriculture program, which according to Community College Week, is ranked 9th in the nation in ag degree-granting among two-year colleges and four-year universities.

Lake Area Tech President, Michael Cartney comments, “What Lake Area Tech has accomplished in continued growth is something few colleges can say they have experienced. However, we realize that we need to stay focused on the things that have made us who we are by hiring the best faculty, having strong community and industry support, creating a caring culture for students, giving students the skills they need to be successful, retaining them and making sure they have meaningful employment upon completion of their program.”

Lake Area Tech attributes its growth to several factors: the Governor’s Critical Workforce Needs Scholarships resulting in an influx of students into Precision Machining, online Robotics and Energy; 98% placement rate after graduation; offering programs in high-demand, high-pay fields; adding new programs; and expanding online E-Degrees. And significantly, for the third time, Lake Area Tech being named one of the Ten Finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College and nationally recognized for its learning outcomes, retention, degree completion, employment and earnings, and success for minority and low-income students.

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LATI in Running for Top Community College Honor for Third Time

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WATERTOWN, SD – Through the National Space Grant and Fellowship Program, NASA’s Office of Education will award more than $17.3 million to U.S. community colleges and technical schools including a $500,000 award to Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown. The purpose of the award is to increase student and faculty engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.

The South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, of which Lake Area Tech is an affiliate, submitted a proposal outlining ways to attract and retain more students in community and technical college STEM programs, develop stronger collaborations to increase student access to NASA’s STEM education content, and increase the number of students who advance from an associate to a bachelor’s degree. The proposal was one of 35 selected across the nation to receive funds.

“Being selected by NASA for this grant is an affirmation of the great work our Aviation and Agriculture departments do,” said Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney. “We are always looking to expand and improve our STEM programs, and there is no better partner than NASA for such an endeavor.  LATI looks forward to pushing the edge in Agriculture remote aerial operations.  We believe these efforts will prepare students for leading edge careers, making the programs more appealing to female and Native American students.”

Lake Area Technical Institute will conduct UAV operations in cooperation with South Dakota State University. The purpose of the flights will be to collect airborne imagery and/or data to support satellite imagery calibration and precision agriculture practices. LATI (Greg Klein) and SDSU (Dennis Helder) have a proven track record of cooperation in establishing and meeting goals in research projects, the latest being an FAA-funded grant to develop an ethanol-based aircraft fuel. Earlier successes included the first-time ever certification of a “flex-fuel” powered aircraft in a normal category to burn either aviation gasoline or an 85% ethanol blend fuel. We intend to continue this established, strong working relationship for the benefit of the UAV element of this grant proposal.

Under this opportunity, Lake Area Technical Institute will lead a two-year effort to advance interaction between technical institutes and NASA and to elevate the role of technical institutes within the consortium, potentially leading to additional technical institute partnerships in the state. Major emphasis will be directed toward attracting more female and Native American students into STEM programs at technical institutes.

The principle programs that will benefit at Lake Area Tech are Aviation, Agri-Aviation, Environmental Technology, and Robotics. The identified fields have clear relevance within the NASA Mission Directorates and align well with recently formalized South Dakota research and development priorities and industry target sectors. Growth in these fields of study will also open new pathways for technical school graduates to transfer into related programs at the state’s four-year research universities.

Major funding will be directed to student scholarships, NASA Johnson Space Center internships, participation in the Community College Aerospace Scholars program, and on-site research internships.

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WATERTOWN, SD – The Lake Area Technical Institute Agriculture program was named the 2014 Outstanding Post-Secondary Program at the annual South Dakota Association of Agricultural Educators (SDAAE) conference in Mitchell this week.  The conference was held in conjunction with the South Dakota Association of Career and Technical Education conference.

The Outstanding Post-Secondary Program award recognizes excellence in post-secondary and adult agriculture education programs. LATI’s Agriculture program offers students 10 options within the program including Agri-Aviation, Agri-Business, Agri-Production, Commodity Merchandising, Dairy, Environmental, Equine Management, Large Animal, Precision Technology, and Ranch Management. The options are available on-campus in the newly constructed Ag and Environmental Center or online.

Lake Area Tech’s Ag program is the largest program on campus with nearly 300 students enrolled.

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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 .

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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.”

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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.