Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne has graduated the first cohort of industrial technology apprentices in partnership with Steel Dynamics, Inc. For the past two years, twelve students have followed a custom curriculum developed by Ivy Tech Fort Wayne and Steel Dynamics while working and going to school full time. They graduated in May 2020 with Associate of Applied Science degrees and were immediately transitioned into full-time specialized roles as either Electrical Mill Technicians or Mechanical Mill Technicians, which are well-paid, challenging positions.
“Steel Dynamics developed this program because there is an ongoing need for mechanical and electrical expertise in our operations,” says Staci Beiswanger, Employee Development Manager at Steel Dynamics, Inc. “The Steel Dynamics, Inc. apprenticeship program is a great way for a motivated individual to gain additional technical skills while earning a wage. Ivy Tech has been a great partner who was highly flexible and helped us develop a custom program to fit our company’s needs.”
Most of the students in this program were originally team members employed with Steel Dynamics who wanted to upskill into more technically-skilled positions. Through the program, Steel Dynamics paid for their tuition, books, and even paid the apprentices an hourly wage while they attended class. To compliment the classroom experience, the apprentices worked 25 hours per week under the mentorship of an experienced Steel Dynamics team member.
“I was originally hired November 2017 in the shipping department as a haul truck driver, and I wanted to advance in the company. When I heard about the apprenticeship program, I decided that was the best way I could get where I wanted to be,” says electrical apprentice Justin Hart. “I loved the hands-on nature of the classes at Ivy Tech and the range of projects we worked on. When I was in high school, I was pushed into getting a four-year degree. But if I had to do it all over again, I would have chosen this program, this trade-school. I never would have thought that going to school for two years could result in a job with this high of a wage. SDI is such a great company, and I couldn’t be happier than where I am.”
Steel Dynamics and Ivy Tech were true partners in creating this apprenticeship program. Ivy Tech worked with Steel Dynamics to create the best curriculum to prepare these students for their new responsibilities. Steel Dynamics purchased equipment for Ivy Tech—including a centrifugal pump learning system and a process control learning system—that the apprentices would need to complete their training.
“The strong partnership between Ivy Tech and Steel Dynamics shows in this robust apprenticeship program that helps set our students up for immediate and future success,” says Darrel Kesler, Dean of the School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Science and Information Technology. “These apprentices are incredibly hardworking, sometimes studying from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. because they’re so dedicated to improving themselves.”