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For students who want a hands-on college experience, Dordt College plans to launch a career-focused two-year degree program in fall 2017.

The new Pro-Tech program will offer two majors: Manufacturing Technology and Farm Operations and Management. Up to 25 students will be accepted in each major. Dordt College, located in Sioux Center Iowa, is a liberal arts college affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church.

The college plans to develop more two-year majors in future years, with the goal of offering a skills-based education with a Christian worldview.

“Skilled fields are an area that few, if any, Christian colleges serve,” said Joel Sikkema, director of Pro-Tech. “We [at Dordt] feel that it is our responsibility as a college to move in this direction. If we only focus on four-year degrees we’re not really living out our mission [‘Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.’]”

Two days a week, Pro-Tech students will work at local companies as paid interns. Business partners include Pella Corporation (a window and door manufacturer), Vermeer Corporation (manufacturer of farm and industrial equipment), and Dykstra Dairy (where over 3,000 cows are milked each day.)

“[Students] will work alongside the employees, learn the daily routine of the business,” said Darin Dykstra, one of the owners of Dykstra Dairy. “That’s big, that’s really big.”

The work they do may include advanced tasks such as creating a piece of equipment for a specified purpose or making improvements to existing machines, said Sikkema.

“We want to equip students to serve as operators, putting them on a footing to step into leadership positions in the manufacturing and agricultural industries,” he said.

Dordt College began as a two-year teacher training college in 1955 and has continued to offer a two-year Associate of Arts option  ever since. The new program will offer a much more intensive internship experience.

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