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Additional opportunities on the horizon for Hillyard students with MWSU, NCMC future college program

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Renderings of the future Convergent Technology Alliance Center on the campus of Missouri Western.

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Hillyard students will have the chance to continue their education with Missouri Western and North Central Missouri College's future undergrad program.

Friday, Missouri Western and North Central announced plans for a Convergent Technology Alliance Center (CTAC) to continue efforts in industrial-manufacturing technology training.

Future MWSU and NCMC students will be able to discover or further their training in industrial technology, manufacturing technology, construction technology and AI/GIS/Robotics/Cyber technology. 

"St. Joseph is the third largest exporter in the state," said Missouri Western State University President Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy. "We have a significant percentage of manufacturing jobs here. We have employers that have good quality, high-paying jobs that are available, and we want to make sure that those students see those."

Dr. Kennedy is working alongside North Central Missouri College's President Lenny Klaver to promote working opportunities in St. Joseph while allowing students to earn a degree at the same time.

St. Joe currently has Hillyard Technical Center, a training facility for high school students to explore the industrial and manufacturing world, leaving them fully prepared to join the workforce immediately after high school graduation.

Hillyard Tech. Director Jill Hunstman says the CTAC program will be a wonderful option for students to continue training and earn a degree.

"This really impacts our students by giving them more opportunities, especially more local opportunities," said Hunstman. "A lot of our students go on directly to the workforce. But then this allows them to have a few more avenues that they can explore and can work with and stay locally."

Hunstman said 88 of 186 interviewed graduates went directly to the workforce from the class of 2021. 26 students continued their education at a 2-year institution, 34 went onto a 4-year institution and 3 students went to a school offering less than a 2-year degree.

"A lot of times, if they want to go into get to get that training, advanced training, they have to travel or go somewhere out of state to school or something of that nature," Huntsman explained. "So I see this as an opportunity for them."

Hillyard, Missouri Western and North Central have worked together in the past to train students.

""Well, the Hillyard (Technical) Center is where we will be holding some classes. Their expansion is primarily for their students," said NCMC President Lenny Klaver. "But we also have articulation agreements with Hillyard--Hillyard to transfer to North Central, North Central to transfer to Missouri Western--so it does fit in there with their expansion, and we have had classes there in the past."

Huntsman said Hillyard students who continue their education at CTAC will be able to take 1 credit, or semester of a class they previously took at Hillyard, to receive full credit from MWSU or NCMC in the course, all for free. Students will also have the opportunity to sign-up for classes they've never taken before as well.

"I think it's going to be a wonderful partnership between all three of us" said Hunstman. "Because then they can choose if they want to come to Hillyard, get that base knowledge. They can decide that no, they want to go the college route and go straight to Missouri Western, get their associates, it's all going to be represented for them here."

The vision for the CTAC funding plan is $10 million in total. The plan is mapped out as $5 million from State ARPA funding, Buchanan County funding $1 million, MWSU and NCMC funding $1 million combined and $3 million of local industry support.

The new building will be located on the campus of Missouri Western next to the Kit Bond Incubator.

MWSU and NCMC hope to have students ready to learn in 18 months to 2 years. 

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