Teachers from throughout northeastern Oklahoma were educated this week about the myriad of opportunities available to skilled workers with technology training during a manufacturing camp sponsored by the MidAmerica Industrial Park (MAIP) and OSU Institute of Technology’s advanced technical training center in Pryor.
The workshop included a presentation about the past, present and future development of MAIP and round table discussions with local industry leaders addressing careers, recruiting and employee training. The group also participated in tours of Orchid Paper, American Casting and Grand River Dam Authority’s Kerr Dam hydroelectric facility near Pryor.
Jeff Hedger, a high school science teacher from Adair, explained that students often sell themselves short by going to work at a minimum wage job after graduation or even attending traditional four year colleges with no real plan of what they want to study or even a clear idea of whether they can find employment with the degree they pursue.
He participated in the workshop to better understand the operations of the businesses in the area, including their products, working conditions and types of entry-level positions.
“I wanted to learn more about the opportunities available right here in the industrial park,” stated Hedger. “There are a lot of jobs and especially good paying technical jobs our graduates can do right here in Pryor that most of them aren’t aware of.”
Slade Story, OSUIT instructor and student coordinator, stated the purpose for the university co-sponsoring the workshop was to raise awareness of the technical training it offers in Pryor and Okmulgee that teach the skills required to fill instrumentation, electrical, information technology and electronics jobs available with many companies in the industrial park.
“We get calls from a lot of companies in the industrial park asking about our students,” said Story. “These companies often end up hiring some of our students before they even finish their programs to lock them in because demand for their types of skill is so high.”
During a presentation held in the energy control center of the GRDA facility on Kerr Dam, Danny Ragsdale, hydro supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) superintendent, praised OSUIT for the quality of technical training delivered by the university and the professionalism ingrained throughout its programs.
“Students that come from OSUIT’s technical programs are just so advanced over the average applicant. If we have to hire the average person off the street with no experience, it takes us at least seven years to get them trained and educated to the level of a graduate from OSUIT.”
Founded in 1960, MidAmerica Industrial Park has evolved into one of the leading centers for manufacturing, processing and distribution in the United States. Often described as the nation's largest rural industrial park, MidAmerica is located between Pryor Creek and Chouteau in northeast Oklahoma 38 miles east of Tulsa. The development has been recognized by leading economic development publications as a top-ranked expansion or relocation site for growing companies and has been named as a “Certified Industrial Park” by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
OSU Institute of Technology at the MidAmerica Industrial Park is an advanced technical training center offering college accredited courses which can lead to an Associate of Applied Science degree, as well as training programs designed to meet the unique needs of the working adult and prepare them for high wage positions within industry.