Lake Area Tech awarded $3.5 million and assumes oversight of South Dakota Mechanical & Technology Solutions

The award is a cooperative agreement that gives Lake Area oversight of South Dakota’s Manufacturing and Technology Solutions (SDMTS) Center
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:02 PM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Lake Area Technical College was recently awarded over $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The award is a cooperative agreement that gives Lake Area oversight of South Dakota’s Manufacturing and Technology Solutions (SDMTS) Center, which is an advisory organization for manufacturers in the state.

”What we do, really, is we help manufacturers with any type of problem that they have, anything from automation to workforce to financials,” said SDMTS Center Director Don Cuperus.

SDMTS was hosted at the University of South Dakota for the last 10 years, but Lake Area staff say the switch makes more sense since LATC and SDMTS have specific focuses on the manufacturing industry.

SDMTS provides advisory services to help manufacturing companies improve productivity and solve problems, and LATC provides the next generation of manufacturing employees.

”Together the two will play very nicely together. There’s a lot of synergism and a lot of common topics and common goals,” said LATC President Mike Cartney.

Lake Area and SDMTS have worked together in the past, but assuming oversight will mean easier access to SDMTS for Lake Area students.

“We’ve worked with SDMTS in the past, and with this award money, we’ll be able to share a lot more equipment because we can house it here on campus. Having those guys here more often can get the students seeing what manufacturing is doing out there, rather than just our educational cells, is a big part of it,” said LATC Robotics and Electronics Department Supervisor Brooks Jacobsen.

Not only will getting real-world examples of manufacturing industry trends be beneficial for students, but the manufacturing companies could benefit as well.

”They’ll bring those manufacturers in, show them what’s available, what can be done and how we can make their systems leaner. Then, the students can work with SDMTS, or sometimes, directly with that manufacturer as a little project,” said Jacobsen.

Lake Area Technical College will assume oversight of South Dakota Manufacturing and Technical Solutions on January 1st of 2023. The $3.5 million grant is still yet to be allocated, but LATC staff say it will benefit the manufacturing departments.