KPI-JCi gives S.D. School of Mines & Technology factory tour

Tina Grady Barbaccia

May 16, 2012

Eight students from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSM&T) traveled to the Kolberg-Pioneer Inc. (KPI-JCI) manufacturing facility May 9 to learn more about future career options for engineering students and recruit South Dakota high school students to the university.

The students, who are members of the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter, visited with SDSM&T alumnus and company president Joe Vig, who gave them a tour of the factory. Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc. currently employs 12 SDSM&T alums.

Tony Kulesa, president of the ASCE Student Chapter and a senior civil engineering student, said it was inspiring to visit with Vig and get a personal tour of the facilities.

“We were very impressed with Kolberg-Pioneer – it was obviously a very efficient and optimized place,” Kulesa said. “Joe [Vig] is a wonderful role model for students to look up to. It’s always inspiring to see a real-life success story. For us students, it is great motivation and broadens our perspective on engineering and where we can go from here.”

Vig, who graduated from SDSM&T in 1971 with a degree in civil engineering, said it’s important for the company to continually reach out to engineering students within the state to remind them of the opportunities that exist in South Dakota for engineers.

“Regardless of the focus of their education, it is important for South Dakota engineering students to know about manufacturers like Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc. and what we produce,” Vig said. “Not only is there a wealth of opportunities for engineers to work for the company, but the equipment we produce is directly tied to our country’s infrastructure, and it’s good for the civil engineers who plan our roads and bridges to know what our equipment is capable of doing.”

Vig also toured the Gavins Point Dam in Yankton with the students, where the spillway flow had been stopped by the Army Corps of Engineers to allow crews to inspect the structure for possible damage from 2011’s flooding.

“It was fun to visit the dam with Joe because you could really see his passion for engineering shine,” Kulesa said. “We all appreciated the time Joe spent with us throughout the day.”

In addition to stopping at KPI-JCI, the students also visited three high schools in Sioux Falls, S.D., including Lincoln High School, Washington High School, Roosevelt High School, as well as the Career and Technical Education Academy.

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