By Erin Wood, Lake Region State College

DEVILS LAKE, N.D., September 20, 2012 — The U. S. Department of Labor has awarded $2,990,335 to Lake Region State College to develop training programs in precision agriculture. The grant targets workers eligible for training as a result of unfair foreign trade that has caused job loss or threatened job loss.

Lake Region State College, through its Dakota Precision Ag Center, a center of excellence under N.D. Century Code, will develop and deliver technical training in precision agriculture technologies. These technologies are a rapidly growing sector of production agriculture. This activity aligns with the North Dakota University System’s strategic goal to “increase the overall vitality of the state through exceptional education, research, training, and service. Five industries are targeted by North Dakota for workforce development including electronic engineering technicians, surveying and mapping technicians, computer support specialists, and agricultural equipment operators. All four are included within this new initiative.

“This grant opportunity will help take the center of excellence work to the next level. The Dakota Precision Ag Center will develop training programs that focus on power and transmission instrumentation, DC electronics and automated control, and information technology,” said Dr. Doug Darling, interim president at LRSC.

Today’s agricultural producer uses several forms of technology when responding to the global demand for agricultural products such as fiber, food, and fuel. Some technologies, such as precision agriculture, span several technological forms and have evolved from the U.S. and Western Europe’s emerging focus on deployment of “advanced control technology” in the manufacturing and extractive industries.

“These programs cross traditional boundaries for skilled agricultural equipment technicians, but reflect the reality of today’s service technician environment within implement dealerships,” said Dr. Paul Gunderson, director of the Dakota Precision Ag Center.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program (TAACCCT) announced 27 awards to consortia totaling just over $359 million and 27 awards to individual institutions totaling $78 million.