Enrollment in UNI's Department of Technology is expected to increase significantly in the fall and it's easy to see why. The department offers six undergraduate degrees, two graduate programs and a 90 percent job placement rate.
"There's a big demand for our graduates," said department head James Maxwell. "I get calls from businesses all the time, people saying, 'We've got an opening.'"
The high demand and increased interest in this field makes sense. According to Maxwell, "What drives America is manufacturing and technology."
Students from the department have been recruited by local and national companies such as the Des Moines Register, John Deere and General Motors, holding positions that include press room supervisor, mechanical engineer and production supervisor.
Formerly known as the Department of Industrial Technology, Maxwell explained the reasoning behind removing "industrial" from the department's name. "We go a step beyond that," he said. "With our tech management, and our master's degree and our construction management program, we're doing more management. It's much broader than industrial."
The department offers undergraduate degrees in construction management, electrical engineering technology, manufacturing technology, graphic technologies, technology education and technology management. All of the programs are accredited, but the electrical engineering technology degree is notable for being the only program in the state of Iowa that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
The graduate programs are equally impressive. The Master of Science in Technology degree has transitioned to an online platform to better meet the needs of students. The Doctor of Technology, in addition to being one of the country's oldest doctorate degrees in it's field, is the only Doctor of Technology degree offered in the state.
Classes offer students the critical thinking skills, writing skills, communication skills and leadership skills necessary for success in any area. However, the department especially prides itself on the hands-on experience it provides students.
The graphic technologies program, for example, "is unbelievable," according to Maxwell. "When our students come out they can do print, they can do video, they can do photography, they can do web design, they can do multimedia, they can do silkscreening. They're not just locked into one area."
Hands-on experience isn't limited to just the graphic technologies program. The department's facilities include a mini-foundry, which is the only mini-foundry in Iowa and serves students working in metal casting.
Students have competed in the robot-building competition at the annual Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) Conference, earning first place in the nation in 2011, as well as the Solar Splash World Championship of Intercollegiate Solar Boat Racing, in which students build and race a solar-powered boat. According to Maxwell, these experiences provide students with the qualities they need to succeed.
"They're doing a lot of hands-on stuff," said Maxwell. "They're creative, they can solve a lot of problems. That's why industry wants our students."