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Northwest Tech Opens Engineering Program to High School Juniors and Seniors

High school juniors and seniors in the greater Goodland area will now have the opportunity to complete a technical certificate or associates degree at the same time they earn their high school diploma.  Starting in August 2019, high school students will be able to enroll in the half-day Engineering and Drafting Technology program on the Goodland campus.


“While we have had a senior-option for a number of years, this is a complete restructure of the Engineering Technology schedule that will provide a unique opportunity for high school students,” said Northwest Tech president Ben Schears. “This will allow them to start as a junior and graduate from the college and high school at the same time.” The Engineering & Drafting Technology program provides students with a well-rounded curriculum in mechanical and civil computer-aided drafting, and students learn on the same industry software used in the field.


The Engineering and Drafting Technology program has historically resulted in very high employment rates with twice the number of companies looking for employees as graduates in recent years. Just last year, the average job offers for graduates coming out of the program were over $50,000 plus benefits. “It’s truly an exciting opportunity for students to get immediately started in a career that pays well and has plenty of advancement opportunities,” said program instructor Mike Zimmerman. “And for those that have a desire to head to a university, this provides them with the skills to work while in school and not take on a student loan burden.”


Schears said the Engineering and Drafting Technology faculty were the first to raise their hands when the idea was proposed to faculty. “Our program instructors Mike Zimmerman and Aaron Wolfe deserve a lot of credit for being willing to redesign their program to benefit area high school students,” he said. College administrators have met with Goodland high school administration and have set the program in motion. While Goodland will be the first school district to send interested students over, college administration hopes other area school districts will take advantage of the opportunity.


The tuition and fees for the technical courses in the program are covered through Excel in CTE, a program that was created in 2012 under then Governor Sam Brownback, to support regional business and industry through educational opportunities. The remaining costs will be for optional general education courses and a laptop with course software. The laptop, which will be purchased for the second semester, will also have a payment plan option for those needing to spread the payments out. 


While Northwest Tech has historically had a few high school seniors taking courses on campus in each year, the new design is different due to the structured nature of the program and the ability for high school juniors to begin the program. Students would begin on campus in the morning and return to their high schools around the lunch hour. “The reality is we can do more to support our communities, and this is one way we can engage in proactive economic development,” said Schears. “This is just the first program redesign we’re making, and 2 to 3 more are on the horizon.”


Informational sessions will be hosted over the spring semester and parents, students, and area business and industry will be encouraged to attend. Schedules will be sent to area newspapers and on college social media as they are scheduled. Learn more about the program at