Providing training for good-paying jobs
POCATELLO — R. Scott Rasmussen, who was recently appointed to permanently serve as dean of the Idaho State University College of Technology, likes to talk about the department’s high placement and retention rates.
He had been the interim dean of ISU’s College of Technology since May of 2011.
The new leader of professional technical education at ISU also touts that the College of Technology is one of the first programs to ever be affiliated with the Pocatello university.
There are currently six technical-based colleges in Idaho. The College of Technology in the Gate City is the only one that is attached to a four-year campus.
In a question-and-answer session Rasmussen had this to say:
Q. What’s kept you at ISU all these years?
A. “Well, I am originally from Preston. I’m a small town farm boy from Idaho. That said, I have professional technical education in my blood. In 1978, I earned a degree here at ISU through the Electronic Systems Technology program. So, I know how important that hands-ontraining is. I also like to fly remote-controlled aircraft and am a member of the local aeromodelers club. I like spending time outdoors in the mountains and enjoy dirt biking and camping as well.”
Q. I’m sure you stay busy considering the fact that you oversee 40 programs. What exactly does the job entail?
A. “I stay extremely busy and spend a lot of time maintaining contacts with those who work in the varying industries. I find out what kind of skills the employers are looking for and find ways to fill the need by getting people the training necessary to obtain the job. We use the ISU College of Technology as a tool to attract new companies to our area. Company heads will ask questions with regards to outlets for training opportunities and that is where we come in.”
Q. Have you noticed a spike in enrollment due to the recession?
A. “It’s always an interesting quandary during a downturn in the economy because more people are looking to get re-trained, while funding sources are being cut. Enrollment is definitely up, though. What we find is that the non-traditional students who enroll during tough times have a great skill set. They just need some additional training to get them back in the work force. We currently have a total of 1,200 students enrolled in varying ISU College of Technology programs.”
Q. What ISU College of Technology programs are most popular right now?
A. “High-demand programs include health-related occupations such as nursing and health information technology. A number of the courses can be taken online. That is a plus for those who are working while going to school. Welding, machinist and energy systems technology courses are also popular. This year, we added a nuclear operations technician program to the lineup. People who graduate from that program could work close to home, at the INL (Idaho National Laboratory), or anywhere else in the U.S. Gold is a hot commodity right now, so more people are enrolling in our mining program. We basically create programs for a skill set that is in high demand, and the average starting salary for an ISU College of Technology graduate is $50,000 a year. We’ve even had students place in the $70,000-$75,000 range right out of college.”
Q. What is the best way for people to further inquire about the technical programs available at ISU?
A. “We have our own student services center, and our counselors accept walk-in appointments. They work with interested persons to come up with a program that lines up with their interests. Incoming students can also take the Compass Test (college entrance exam test) here at the ISU College of Technology. Further questions can be answered by dialing 282-2622.”
BY TAMMY SCARDINO