MORRISON, Ill. — Morrison Tech’s reputation is stretching beyond the region.
Morrison Tech recently received national acclaim, placing 19th in a Forbes top 30 ranking. President Chris Scott said the recognized accomplishments are well received, but even without those accolades, he was already confident in the school’s programs.
Forbes recognized 30 two-year trade institutions based on affordability, earnings and quality. At Morrison Tech, the average cost of attendance is $21,000 — and with just less than 130 in attendance, Morrison Tech’s student population is headed into a market Scott described as “just dying for skilled labor.” Graduates generally find jobs soon after graduation, and a starting salary averaging around $43,900.
Focusing solely on engineering technologies and network administration, Morrison Tech takes hands-on experience over classroom lectures any day. The not-for-profit dedicates its walls and campus grounds to student-made crafts and inventions, which reflects Scott’s sentiment toward engaging students in their work.
“We are centered around our students,” he said. “And a lot of people will say that, but every staff member knows every student that goes here, and cares for their well-being and their success.”
When walking around a room with two 3-D printers, one can see a project resembling a propeller of some sort, along with a miniature Star Wars AT-AT Walker (the all-terrain armed transport tanks, an iconic battle vehicle in the films). Scott said he knows what the school can offer students. The Forbes article, if anything, spread the word. Students generally come from around the area, but he hopes to expand the school’s reach.
Though by the time the article in Forbes had been published in mid-June, Morrison Tech’s enrollment was coming to an end and the year’s programs were “pretty well established.” Scott said it’s hard to quantify prospective students, but there was a jump in online traffic around the time the article came out.
This fall, an 8,000-square-foot innovation center is expected to begin construction. It will be a lab space with access to specialized equipment, such as what’s needed for manufacturing. Scott notes that the center is not just for students. He hopes that entrepreneurs, artisans, etc. in the local communities take advantage of the technologies and space soon-to-be offered in Morrison.
“(The space is brought) to help bring concepts from the virtual equation into real life,” Scott said.
Not only do students have somewhat of an advantage entering a workforce with a recorded need to fill vacancies, but they can see the work the school does with industry. Morrison Tech could be filling a 30-40 gap Scott talked about in big time corporate presence in the area. The economic and growth impact of companies like GE and the steel mill are no longer active in Morrison. That has left room for small to mid-size companies to add something to the innovation table. This is where Scott sees Morrison Tech and the new center to fit in.
“So, hopefully, this center will help those small to mid-size companies bring products to marketplace faster, help them adapt and be more competitive on a global market that they are trying to serve,” Scott said.