When Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology instructors teach their students how to use a piece of equipment or a particular technique, they can be reasonably sure they're keeping pace with the industry.
If they weren't, the industry would let them know, said Roy Achemire, division chair of OSUIT's heavy equipment and vehicle institute.
Oklahoma education and commerce officials said Wednesday they hope to see similar collaboration become more common across the state's higher education system.
Officials discussed the higher education system's role in developing the state's workforce at a conference Wednesday at Oklahoma State University — Oklahoma City. The conference was held jointly by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
During the conference, Achemire outlined the relationship between OSUIT's natural gas compression program and the natural gas industry. The relationship began in the late 1990s, when the institute began working with several industry organizations to develop a curriculum that fit the industry's needs.
The program is two years long, and includes two semesters per year of classroom-based work. The students are then placed in internship positions with gas companies during the summers.
During the classroom portion, instructors teach students basic safety skills and the mechanical and electrical skills they'll need. But most of the learning takes place during the internships, he said.
“When they go out on the job and apply it, that's where it really sinks in and where it really makes a difference,” he said. “Internships are where they learn the most.”