January 29, 2016 11:00AM
As Steve Waltman walked around the wood technology labs at Pittsburg State’s Kansas Technology Center, he had to keep reminding himself that he was at a university.
“What you have here at Pittsburg State is truly a professional, industry-level operation,” said Waltman, vice president of marketing for Stiles Machinery. “The equipment within the labs at the tech center is high-level machinery that many companies still wish they had.
“That’s why the students who graduate from PSU are exactly what industry is looking for,” Waltman said. “They already know how to work with some of the newest and most advanced wood processing technology.”
Stiles Machinery, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is among the various industry partners that have made possible the wood tech program’s acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment.
Through a machine loan agreement with various companies, the program has been able to fill its labs with equipment that would otherwise be out of the university’s price range.
“Companies like Stiles Machinery and many others across the nation have generously agreed to lend us some of their best equipment so that our students can be best prepared to go out into the workforce,” said Assistant Professor Doug Hague. “Without industry support, there is no way we’d be able to afford the machines we currently have.”
Waltman, who visited the KTC this month to view how Stiles machinery is being used by students, said it’s in the industry’s best interest that students have exposure to the highest level of machinery while in school.
“There is no point in students training on equipment that is lesser than that which they’ll experience in the workforce,” Waltman said. “We want to hire graduates who know what they’re doing and who are ready to hit the ground running. We want a seamless transition whenever possible, and we enjoy just that with PSU graduates because they come out fully trained and ready.”
Partnerships with Pittsburg State are attractive to industry because of the university’s Kansas Technology Center.
“Pittsburg State has something that many universities do not have, and that is the space to put this commercial-level equipment,” Waltman said. “The Kansas Technology Center is a tremendous asset to the university, but it’s also a great benefit to industry because it serves as a tremendous training ground for the workforce.”
Pitt State students agree.
“Having the tech center here is one of the main reasons I chose to attend Pitt State,” said senior Sam Galliart. “There aren’t very many schools that have this type of facility and equipment. We can’t thank enough the companies that donate to us and make it all possible.”