STEM PROGRAM … Josh Verhoff (left), who is part of Northwest State Community College’s industrial mechanical faculty, explained the STEM industrial program to Rotarians on May 5. He noted that the program will pass the college’s nursing program in the number of graduates with 82 getting their degrees this spring. The program was arranged by Dale Kern.
Josh Verhoff has been around the field of industrial maintenance for nearly all of his working life — mostly either at GM Powertrain in Defiance or teaching students at Northwest State who are working toward industrial training credit, a certificate, or a two-year degree.
He added that agreements with four-year degree programs also allow Northwest students to earn an associate’s degree locally and transfer most of those credits and earn a four year degree elsewhere.
The college credit plus program is open to high school students and even some as young as seventh graders.
Verhoff explained a new grant-funded program called EDGE that persons who are currently employed, but not making much money can attend to earn “industrial credit.”
The students may currently be stocking shelves, working at a fast-food restaurant or something similar and come to Northwest State to learn skills to become an industrial maintenance technician — possibly doubling their pay.
Most of the students in the EDGE program are already hired before they complete the program, he said.
Most of the course work in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) industrial program is hands-on.
Course work is applied to what is actually needed in the workplace using the college’s “Automation Studio” to simulate the workplace.
Verhoff told Rotarians that he creates YouTube videos that step-by-step show what the students need to learn using the equipment in the Automation Studio before they are expected to do it.
They can review the videos at whatever level they need and as often as they need so they can then do what is being taught.
As they learn the equipment, he explained that he will make adjustments to the equipment so the students will need to figure out why it is no longer working as it should and fix the problem.
Various Northwest State industrial/mechanical faculty members offer programs on hydraulics, rigging, plumbing and pipe fitting using black iron, copper and so forth, electrical and HVAC, instrumentation control, welding, machine shop, and programmable logic controllers.