Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Log in


You are here: Home / Newsroom / News Stories / ARCHIVED News Stories / ARCHIVED: 2013 News Stories / Water Technology program offers students valuable career training

Water Technology program offers students valuable career training

by admin last modified Jul 07, 2015 01:36 PM
For residents at a Kansas juvenile correctional facility, enrolling in a new training program at the facility may prove to be a “watershed moment” in their lives.
Water Technology program offers students valuable career training

KJCC has begun an accredited environmental water technology program.

The freshly launched Environmental Water Technology program at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) in Topeka prepares the incarcerated youth for careers in a field that could net them attractive career options in the future.

By learning the different means for making water available to communities, including the use of chemicals, biological treatment, and mechanical processes, these Kansas youth are putting themselves in position to apply for jobs in water technology upon release from the correctional facility, jobs which have a median annual income in Kansas of $41,000.

The facility is host to instructors from Fort Scott Community College (FSCC) who are employing a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train the next generation of water technicians. The Department of Labor has identified that a shortage of technicians in the field is looming, as the mean age of those in the industry is in the mid-50s. The agency’s grant is targeting trainees in the 18-21 age range, and FSCC is bringing the opportunity to those in the Kansas juvenile justice system.

In addition to time in the classroom, the residents are finding opportunities to employ their diverse skills. They have grown food in a garden, which they donate to local charities, they have produced a video public service announcement, and they even recorded a heavy metal song to promote environmentally friendly habits.

Sunflowers at KJCC“The talents of the youth are coming out, and they are engaging with this program,” said Megan Milner, deputy superintendent of KJCC, who oversees educational programs at the facility. “They understand the wonderful opportunity they are being given to prepare for a successful career, and they are applying their youthful energy and enthusiasm to it.”

Classes in Environmental Water Technology, which are offered to residents of KJCC who have received a high school diploma or a GED, began in March. Enrollees in the program typically study in a classroom setting during the morning, then engage in hands-on lab work in the afternoon, said Milner.

“I like that we’re getting treated like college students,” said one resident of the facility, who hopes to become the first in his family to graduate from college. “I like the hands-on part of it. Using tools and accomplishing something, it makes me proud to see what I’ve done.”

Students who complete each six-week course receive a credential from FSCC for that specific topic area – credentials that could open the door to jobs at water treatment facilities or in related industry fields, according to Matt Brillhart, the program director of the FSCC grant.

“So far, it’s been going really great,” said Brillhart. “The hands-on activities have given them an opportunity to be creative and to really invest themselves in the program."

The program is a collaborative effort between the community college, Washburn University, the Department of Labor, and the correctional facility.

“We are excited to serve students and provide opportunities for career readiness through this partnership with KJCC,” said Dr. Clayton Tatro, president of FSCC. “Water technology is very much an ‘in-demand’ field with high potential for employment. Working together through this partnership, we can assist in the placement of trained individuals into the industry and their respective communities.”

Students have the opportunity to receive credentials in four different water technology programs: Water Plant Operation, Water Distribution System Operation and Management, Waste Water Plant Operation, and Waste Water Collection System Operation and Maintenance.

The classes will apply toward an associate degree in Applied Science in Environmental Water Technology for students who wish to further their training through FSCC.

Document Actions