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Posts for March 2016



A grisly murder at Western Dakota Tech was the perfect opportunity for Criminal Justice students to jump into the world of forensic science, but don't be alarmed! The murder was, of course, a staged simulation.

Criminal Justice Instructor, Richard Bleil, used a fake body and planted evidence that gives clues to the murder of "Hanna," a paper-stuffed mannequin. Students surveyed the scene and collected evidence to support their theories of what happened.

Hanna's murder will be a semester-long project. Students will focus on various elements of the investigation process each week. Hands-on experience and discussion about the investigation will teach students the skills necessary to navigate a crime-scene as criminal justice professionals.

The Forensics course explores how specific technologies are used by professionals in the criminal justice system to apprehend offenders, secure convictions on the guilty, and exonerate the innocent. Students gain perspective on the every-changing forensic practices of the criminal justice system and the impact to society.

For more information about the Criminal Justice program, click here.

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SIM Rally surges forward despite weather


The cold and blustery weather didn't stop the inaugural Western Dakota Tech SIM Rally that was held today in the southeast parking lot of the Rushmore Campus on Sedivy Lane.

The rally incorporated the following programs: Fire Science, Law Enforcement, Paramedic, and Medical. Students responded to a mass casualty scene in real-world time as first-responders.

The simulation featured a 2-car collision and bystander victims. The scene included a supposedly intoxicated driver, multiple mannequin deaths, an engine fire, and a Jaws of Life extraction. Law Enforcement were first on scene, followed by fire trucks and then ambulances.

"Simulation is invaluable for students to practice real-world skills in a safe environment," Western Dakota Tech Simulation Center Director Lloyd McNett said. "The ability to review outcomes and assess performance maximizes the learning potential at each one of these events."

Each program met after the event for debriefing. The debriefing included assessment of student performance and learning outcomes and discussion about how to improve future simulations.

While simulation is a core ability of Western Dakota Tech, this is the first simulation event that incorporated so many departments. Cross-departmental collaboration is essential in providing the best possible first response care to victims. The SIM Rally taught students the skills needed to work quickly and cohesively with first-responders from a variety of backgrounds.

Students in each program practiced classroom-specific skills while cooperating with the other departments. Fire Science students put out the engine fire and used the jaws of life to give Paramedic students access to a trapped victim. Law Enforcement students managed traffic and surveyed the scene while collecting evidence to assist prosecutors who would later charge the suspected drunk driver. Paramedic students navigated the many people on scene to triage victims and prioritize care.

All roles had post-event learning opportunities. Western Dakota Tech Nursing Director Sonja Love acted as a receiving ER nurse to record patient reports from the Paramedic students and give feedback. The report from the Law Enforcement program will be submitted to the States Attorney who will provide feedback and recommendations. The Rapid City Fire Department with critique student performance and make suggestions for improvement.

Real-world connections helped students apply skills from the simulation to situations they might face on the job.

Western Dakota Tech Fire Science Instructor, Tom Smith, says emulating real-world scenarios is a core strategy of simulation. In real-world first-response scenarios there are almost always multiple departments involved, and there's certainly no control over the weather.

"Some people wanted to post postpone the event because of the weather today," Smith said. "But how often are you able to postpone a car accident in the real world?"

The Rapid City Fire Department participated in the event with fire trucks, ambulances, and on-scene coaches. The Hill City Ambulance Service also provided an ambulance and driver.

For more information about Western Dakota Tech programs or the Western Dakota Tech Medical Simulation Center, visit

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Local businesses donate 7,000 feet of electrical conduit


The Western Dakota Tech Electrical Trades program received a generous donation this week from Muth Electric and Border States Electric.

One bale of half-inch EMT electrical conduit was given to the program by the two companies. One bale is the equivalent of 7,000 feet of conduit, a total cost of $1,372.

A representative from Muth Electric said the donation was made to show support for the Electrical Trades program and help students get as much hands-on training as possible while still in school.

"Muth Electric and Border States have a great contractor to supplier relationship," Paul Mayer, Muth Electric Division Manager, said. "We see the value of what this donation will bring to the students that come out of the Electrical Program at WDT."

Mayer said Muth Electric is a regular employer of Western Dakota Tech graduates.

"We have been lucky to have anywhere from two to four graduates a year, for many years, come and work for our company," Mayer said. "WDT has always provided us with a great pool of applicants over the years."

Electrical conduit is used to protect and route electrical wiring. Students will use the donated conduit to gain experience in the lab.

"Conduit bending is truly one of the fundamental tasks of the electrical construction industry," Western Dakota Tech Electrical Trades Instructor Scot Dannenbring said. "The students will use the conduit to practice bending stub bends, back to back bends, offset bends, three point saddle bends, and four point saddles."

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Computer-Aided Drafting students have front-row seats


Google Goggles may not have been the technological breakthrough some were hoping for, but one instructor at Western Dakota Tech is finding a similar technology incredibly useful.

Computer-Aided Drafting instructor James Loverich is using Pivothead glasses to record demonstrations and improve lab time. The glasses contain a camera that allows Loverich to capture his point of view and post it online for students.

"I'm essentially flipping the class. Instead of doing my demonstrations in class, the students watch them before they even step into the lab," Loverich said. "This way the students can spend less time watching and more time practicing skills in the lab."

Loverich says the videos allow every student to have a front-row view of the demonstration. They are able to re-watch sections they may be struggling with, and there is no classroom distraction to hinder learning. The students them come to class prepared and can spend more time working on projects and asking specific questions.

Loverich has used similar technology in previous courses with screen capture recording. This is the first semester he has delved into action video recording. He uses the glasses for his Computer Automated Manufacturing course which require lots of hands-on demos.

The response from students has been very positive. The extra lab time allows for more skill-based practice and students are able to dig deeper into projects.

Computer-Aided Drafters are in-demand in the industry. Recent graduates of the Western Dakota Tech Computer-Aided Drafting program are employed by Caterpillar Black hills Engineering, Design Center, 4Front Design, Britton Engineering, Spirit Air, and other businesses.

For more information about the Computer-Aided Drafting program, click here.

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Future Business Professionals Day



The Western Dakota Tech Business Department is preparing to feed the sharks at the Future Business Professionals Day career exploration camp. The one-day camp will be held Tuesday, March 15, on the Western Dakota Tech campus.

Western Dakota Tech invites the media to attend.

The camp is free and open to all high school students. Students will explore business-related programs, including Accounting, Bookkeeping, Business Management & Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Office Professional.

Students will attend three group sessions that focus on financial skills, marketing skills, and sales skills. The sessions are cleverly referred to as The Bling, The Look, and The Pitch.

Students will learn about networking and entrepreneurship, attend an etiquette luncheon, get familiar with Photoshop, design a company logo and business plan, and then present their ideas to the "sharks".

Presenting to "sharks" is a concept based off the ABC reality television series Shark Tank. Contestants on Shark Tank pitch entrepreneurial ideas to venture capitalists who can then choose to invest.

Students who present to the Western Dakota Tech "sharks" will receive critiques and recommendations on their business plans.

For more information about business degrees, click here.

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