South Dakota Technical Colleges Get Funds for CDL, Diesel Tech Programs

South Dakota
Noem speaks at a past event. (James Nord/Associated Press)

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New equipment for diesel technology and commercial driver license training are part of the $10 million investment South Dakota is providing to four state technical colleges.

Gov. Kristi Noem recently announced the state is using a 2-to-1 match with the technical colleges for a total of $15 million to buy modern equipment needed at the schools. The state allocation is using money from Future Fund, its workforce development and technical assistance program.

“This equipment will help our technical colleges train our kids and grandkids for the jobs of the future,” Noem said. “We have some of the best technical colleges in the nation, and we will continue working closely with them to tackle our state’s workforce needs.”

Two of the four schools receiving the funds will spend a portion of their share for diesel technology and CDL training.

Lake Area Technical College in Watertown received $4.7 million from the state for a $7.1 million total investment to buy new equipment for courses on diesel technology, heavy equipment operator, precision machining, med/fire rescue and robotics/electronics.

Founded in 1965 as South Dakota’s first technical school, it now boasts 31 programs and has more than 2,600 enrolled students.

In 2020, the school’s diesel technology program attained a five-year accreditation from the Associated Equipment Distributors, an international trade association based in Illinois that represents 800 construction equipment distributors, manufacturers and industry-service firms. Lake Area Tech noted that the accreditation signifies its program has met rigorous construction equipment technical standards and demonstrates it offers superior hands-on diesel equipment education. The school’s diesel program previously obtained master certification status by the National College of Automotive Service Excellence.

Western Dakota Technical College in Rapid City received $1.6 million (for a $2.3 million total) to spend on its CDL professional truck driving program as well as student housing and classroom furniture. WDTC opened in 1968 and is the only technical college serving the state’s western region.

A registered training provider of entry level driver training by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, WDTC offers both Class A and B CDL classes. As an indication of how popular CDL training is at the school, both its Class A courses are full until the next one starts April 10.

Needing equipment for students in 17 career programs, WDTC has an “Equipment and Program Needs” website page seeking community and industry sponsors for donations with specific items requested. For example, its CDL program is asking for semi-trailers, a semi-tractor truck and a bus, while its diesel technology program needs heavy diesel equipment (such as a forklift and backhoe) for classroom use and diesel diagnostic tools for hydraulics and engines.

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