The Mississippi River, one of the greatest waterways in the world and a resource critical in the development of our nation, flows powerfully and proudly from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it provides a fountainhead of life to communities, industries and economies that rely on it for recreation, commerce and natural aesthetics.
Just as the Mississippi River connected many aspects of early U.S. culture and economy, so too, did the headwaters of this mighty river spawn an educational institution that is now a source of knowledge for a diverse population, molding and shaping the lives and futures of thousands of individuals.
Northwest Technical College history dates back to the early 1960s, when Bemidji High School teacher Jake Outwin recognized that the region needed a workforce with practical skills and knowledge necessary for professional opportunities. With the support of the community and the state of Minnesota, he led an effort to establish the Bemidji Area Vocational Technical Institute, a two-year college that began with two programs, Carpentry and Automotive Mechanics.
That was 1965. Over the years, the college evolved several new names as well as new programs in medical, business, child development and other technological fields that met the increasing needs of its learners, the state and the nation. To lead those programs, creative and resourceful professionals brought incredible talent to the college and tirelessly worked to fulfill a fledgling mission.
The profile of NTC learners changed with time. To predominately young, local male high school graduates, with the pioneer work ethic of their Scandinavian descendents, were added more young women, persons of many ages, and a national and international clientele with ranging ethnicity. They were changing careers or re-educating themselves with the same hope of creating a quality life that motivated the early indigenous peoples and settlers of the region to success.
Changes in the college physical plant and new technology advanced learning and teaching success. These examples earmark how NTC would embrace change and remained flexible and versatile in a dynamic society and business climate. NTC continues to demonstrate its commitment to developing imaginative leaders who effectively address the challenges of life in a technological society, a pluralistic nation and a multicultural world.
Gone are the days of vocational training, when the college focus was strictly teaching technical skills. Technology drives NTC program development and underpins all instruction, including outreach capabilities that allow learners access to Internet resources and electronic course delivery options. Thus, NTC evolved from a two-year ?voc tech? school to a 21st century learning environment, where learners of all ages and backgrounds are provided with a professional and technological knowledge base that sets them apart from other academic experiences.
The technological learning that takes place on campus is only part of what makes the college special. NTC has embraced the American Indian spirit and legacy by demonstrating respect for tradition and the natural world. Nowhere has a public college added a unique dimension to its programs that is specific to American Indians and important to future U.S. culture and commerce. This includes a satellite campus that is part of the Red Lake Indian Nation community.
The natural beauty of area north woods and lakes also brings learners to NTC. Recreational adventures in fishing, hunting, boating, wildlife viewing, camping, mountain biking, canoeing/kayaking, skiing, and other environmental resources make the region a center of outdoor tourism.
Innovation continues today with a nationally acclaimed partnership. Bemidji State University extends unique four-year university resources to the NTC community. BSU activities and services such as resident hall living, meal plans, health services, library resources, extracurricular activities, recreational facilities and study abroad opportunities are open to NTC learners, marking the only such partnership between a two-year and four-year higher education institution in the state.
NTC learners with entrepreneurial proclivity access regional resources to start and grow small business. NTC and other experts in a range of business-related areas extend their knowledge and expertise nationally through the Small Business Development Center and the Optivation, two programs that help business create and succeed.