The PSU Pipeline - Expanding the pool

Article Index
The PSU Pipeline
Feeding the shops
Expanding the pool
All Pages

The shop is well stocked with machinery, most of which has been donated. While the school has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, the shop operates on an annual budget of $7,500, which Miles says is barely enough to cover consumables such as sandpaper and finishes. Companies such as C.R. Onsrud, Martin USA, TigerStop, Weinig, Timesavers, Mikron, JLT Clamps, Denray Machinery, FastCap, QuickScrews, Ritter Mfg., Hoffmann Machine Co. and 3M Abrasives have made donations, along with the producers of Microvellum, MasterCam and Cabinet Vision software.

Industry assistance comes from the IWF, Woodworking Machine Industry Association, Association of Home Furnishings Suppliers, Architectural Woodwork Institute and Woodworking Machine Manufacturers Association.

"We are very blessed with a tremendous amount of industry support. Our program wouldn't be what it was without the industry support," said Miles. "A number of companies have loaned machines for the brand recognition. Chances are, if the students get experience with a particular brand, they will likely recommend that brand to their future employer. We have lots of graduates making equipment purchasing decisions."

Expanding the pool
The Kansas Technical Center opened in 1903 as a manual training school and PSU grew around it. It's the largest academic dwelling in Kansas, which may or may not impress anyone outside the state. Miles admits the university's rather remote location hurts enrollment.

"You've got to be coming here to get here," says Miles. "But we feel that if we can get prospective students here, or we can get industry leaders here, once we show them what we have we've got them hooked. It really makes no difference whether they've got to drive three hours from Kansas City or not."

Most of the students come from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Fewer than 10 percent are from outside that core area. The department, which promotes the university at industry trade shows, has recently hired a recruiter to boost PSU's national profile.

"When we produce a graduate from this region, they go out and work and migrate back," says Iley. "We want to [attract students from] other wood industry areas — Texas, the Mid-Atlantic, the Northwest. The idea is to prepare students to go back to where they came from. The positive for PittState is it brings in tuition dollars from other states."

Twice, the Wood Technology Department has won the Educator of the Year Award bestowed by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association. Bill Miller, WMIA executive vice president, says he's visited the school twice and that the instructors do a superb job in preparing their students for this industry.

"We've had some of their students work with us for different trade shows like IWF and AWFS, and these young people are just extraordinary," says Miller. "I think it has to do with the focus of the department and the dedication and the caring that they put into developing a student."