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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14 Jan 2016

LATI Students Offer Free Income Tax Preparation

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD – For more than 20 years, second-year students in Lake Area Technical Institute’s Financial Services Advanced Tax class are participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that offers free basic income tax filing services to the public who meet program guidelines.

The program will be held on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Tuesday, February 2 from noon to 3:00 p.m. in room 205 through Thursday, March 3. The service is free and is offered on a walk-in basis. Taxpayers from the community should use door 2 or 2A on the west side of LATI.  In addition to their tax information for this filing, all taxpayers will need to show a photo ID for the primary return holder and for all joint return holders, present a Social Security card for each person listed on the return, and bring a copy of last year’s tax return. Taxpayers making less than $54,000 and whose tax return falls within the scope of the program for VITA tax preparers as set by the IRS who need assistance in preparing their tax returns are welcome to take part in the program. More checklist details can be found at

Lorna Hofer, LATI Financial Services Instructor, said the students are well-prepared through coursework, but they must also pass a rigorous national VITA certification examination prior to the filing season. “Studying for and taking the national exam not only educates the students on tax laws and filing procedures, but it addresses all aspects of working with the public including ethics and interview techniques.”

Last year, 234 returns were completed through the VITA program at Lake Area Tech. Hofer said it’s a win-win for everyone as students are introduced to the professional aspects of working with customers during this service-learning experience, and the customers are able to obtain tax filing assistance free of charge from VITA-certified students.  Before filing occurs, a quality review process is completed on each return.

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WATERTOWN, SD – Lake Area Technical Institute is hosting its second-annual Financial Aid Saturday on February 27, 2016 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 2016.

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, 2015 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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24 Nov 2015

Diesel Program Receives National Accreditation

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD – The Diesel Technology program at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown has received re-accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

To achieve this coveted recognition, the school’s Diesel Technology program underwent rigorous evaluation by NATEF. “During the last several months, we have worked closely with NATEF to ensure our program meets the strict industry standards in the areas of instruction, facilities, and equipment,” LATI Diesel Technology Department Supervisor Rick Schmidt said.  “Our students will continue to receive the best educational experience offered anywhere in the country and they’ll be more than ready to join the diesel workforce after graduation.”

Former Chair of the NATEF Donald Seyfer added, “This is great news for automotive-minded young people and their parents. 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.”

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19 Nov 2015

Lake Area Tech Featured in TakeAway Series

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

What’s the Secret to a Nation Full of Successful Community Colleges? South Dakota May Have the Answer

Original Story:

Lake Area Tech Featured in Takeaway Series. Lake Area Tech is being featured in  “The TakeAway“, a daily and Public Radio International and New York Times news show that is broadcast nationally.

The Takeaway is an award-winning daily news show produced by WNYC in partnership with The New York Times and Public Radio International.  The show airs across the country on more than 200 stations, reaching upwards of 2 million listeners nationwide… The Takeaway is featuring Lake Area Technical Institute in a special series launching now and  going throughout the academic year.

This original series will draw on Aspen Prize data, set against the backdrop of President Obama’s promise to fund two years of community college education.  The goal of the programming is to deepen public understanding of the role of community colleges in driving economic growth and expanding social mobility in America.

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12 Nov 2015

Aviation Students Excel at Competition

Author: Karen | Filed under: News Release

WATERTOWN, SD – Students from Lake Area Technical Institute’s Aviation Maintenance Technology (AVM) program earned top places at the recent 2015 Midwest Aviation Invitational held in October in Ottumwa, Iowa. Brian Barry, a second-year student from Rapid City, SD, and Andy Ufkin, a second-year student from Porter, MN, were among the top-four student winners during the competition, hosted by Indian Hills Community College at its campus adjacent to the Ottumwa Regional Airport.  Brian Barry and Jordan Vogue, a second-year student from Watertown, shared a three-way tie with one other contestant for “Most Professional Image.”  Kaj Matsch, a second-year student from Chino, CA, was another strong presence on the Lake Area Tech team.

Lake Area Tech Aviation Maintenance Technology Department Supervisor Greg Klein said the intense competition offers a tremendous opportunity for students to demonstrate their aviation maintenance skills and knowledge. “Throughout their time at Lake Area Tech, our students work diligently to become the best aviation mechanics possible,” he said. “Brian, Andy, Jordan, and Kaj are great representatives of all of our AVM students and I commend them on a job well done.  I’m very proud of them all.”

Competition events included Aircraft Weight and Balance, Safety Wiring, Electrical Troubleshooting, Magneto Timing, Fluid Lines and Fittings, Flight Control Rigging, Sheet Metal Repair, and Turbine Engine Component Exchange.

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WATERTOWN, SD – For the sixth consecutive year, Lake Area Technical Institute has been designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media. The Military Friendly® Schools designation is awarded to the top colleges, universities, community colleges, and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success both in the classroom and after graduation. Institutions competed for the elite Military Friendly® School title by completing a survey of more than 100 questions covering 10 categories, including military support on campus, graduation and employment outcomes, and military spouse policies.

“It is an honor to be named a 2016 Military Friendly School,” said Lake Area Tech VA Certifying Official Julie Forman. “We are dedicated to helping our service members translate the skills and experience gained while serving our country into educational success at Lake Area Tech. It is a huge transition for our military students and their families and we are here to assist them each step of the way.”

In addition to its current array of student veteran services, Lake Area Tech has implemented new marketing and recruitment strategies. These include enhancing the veterans’ services and benefits website information and maintaining a veteran support coordinator. This year, LATI is participating in the Greenlight A Vet project. Greenlight A Vet shines a light on the impact transitioning veterans make in and out of uniform in communities across the country during Veterans Day week. The program aims to bring recognition to the veterans transitioning back to school, jobs and neighborhoods. Greenlight a Vet encourages everyone to participate by showing their support using a “visible symbol” (such as a green light bulb) saying even though we don’t always know who are vets are when they aren’t wearing uniforms, we should still show them support.

Now in its seventh year, the original, premier Military Friendly®Schools designation provides service members and their families with transparent, data-driven ratings about post-military education and career opportunities. Lake Area Technical Institute will be showcased along with other 2016 Military Friendly® Schools in the annual Guide to Military Friendly® Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs® and Military Spouse Magazine, and on . For more information about Lake Area Technical Institute’s commitment to attracting and supporting military students, visit

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