Technical Education Post

News and Information for Technical Educators

Williston State CTE Grant

Williston State College’s Information Technology (IT) Department received a thirty-eight-thousand-dollar ($38,000) North Dakota Career & Technical Education Innovation Grant. Made to improve automation and information technology programs. Williston State CTE Grant

The grant needed matching dollars to be received successfully. About five years ago, ten thousand dollars ($10,000) was set aside, through a generous donation, and held by the Williston State College Foundation for the purpose of being used for future IT program enhancement. The matching dollar donation is also being used in tandem of other generous donations that have been given to the IT program from local and regional entities to enhance technology programs for students.

“When I was first given the opportunity to apply for this Innovation Grant, I thought what we could do to help students,” said Professor of Information Technology, Ken Quamme. Quamme further discussed that a grant was given to the Petroleum program about 6 years ago that enhanced automation in that field, and he wanted to do something similar.

Grant Requirements

The Innovation Grant has requirements that will show how dollars are spent. A big portion of this grant is going to be used in such areas of the IT field in the use of drones, robotics, and automation within the Petroleum Program.

This grant also has a forward focus to helping the three new programs starting in the Fall of 2023. They are Internet of Things (IoT), Cybersecurity, and Electronics & Industrial Controls. “We will be the only college in the North Dakota University System offering Internet of Things Program,” said Quamme. The IoT program will educate students in the concepts of computers, networking, robotics, and automation.

“The jobs students are getting, after completing these programs, are in IT and automation. Automation students are getting IT jobs, IT students are getting automation jobs, so we were ahead of the game in getting these new IoT and automation classes set up for Fall 2023,” said Quamme.

Some of the jobs students are getting upon completion of these IT and automation courses is Computer Support Specialist, Network Support Specialist, and Coding & Programming Specialist.

If you have further questions about Information Technology, please contact Professor of Information Technology, Ken Quamme at 701.774.4207 or

Understanding Automation

Understanding how automation works can be complex, especially when computer programming is added to the mix. Two of Williston State College’s departments are helping students learn more about the future of automation.

At Williston State College’s Western Star Career and Technology Center, students in the Industrial Automation course are learning how technology works. Ben Aaberg has been working in the oilfield for eight years and was surprised how much more there is to know about his machinery.

“To keep up with the times, you got to learn. You got to learn the new stuff and that’s what I’m here to do,” said Ben Aaberg, automation student.

Computers are playing a big role in how automation works today. Some knowledge of the internet and programming is a must for those interested in automation.

“Technology is evolving at a rapid rate, and it seems like every industry is starting to move towards automation and this is a very good skill to have,” said Matthew Hansen, automation student.

“There’s going to be more IT jobs. There’s going to be more people that need to know how stuff works,” said Rouston Villegas, IT student.

Aaberg says blending IT and automation can create more job opportunities.

“There is so much more on the table for me. I can go to so many more different places than I could before I came to this program,” said Aaberg.

Professor of Information Technology Ken Quamme said they have a nearly 100 percent employment rate for students after graduating. He expects that to continue thanks to this grant.

Source: Williston State CTE Grant

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