Celebrating Electrical Technology

​NDSCS is excited to celebrate 95 years of the Electrical Technology program during 2018 Homecoming. Ivan Maas, Associate Professor and Chair of Building Systems and Electrical Technology, invites NDSCS Electrical alumni to an all-class reunion on September 28-29, 2018. The demand for electricity and our dependency on it continues to grow. What used to be a basic farm site has now become high tech with Variable Frequency Drives on blowers and Programmable Logic Controllers monitoring bin temperatures and conveyer operation. Buildings, in general, have become more automated, tying the HVAC systems, lighting and security into the structures. Homeowners have also jumped on board, demanding control of their own home operations. Renewable energy sources continue to ebb into the marketplace in response to state and federal demands.

Ben H. Barnard, an electrical engineer, was hired to start the Electrical Department in 1922. With the invaluable assistance of Karl Larson, Barnard put the two-year curriculum together. The first year was used to prepare the teaching facilities for the electrical trades. Classes began in the winter term and tuition was $5.00. By February of 1925, 64 electrical students were enrolled. Because of the rapid growth, the Trades Building (located where the Harry Stern and Ella Stern Cultural Center is now) was not large enough. The new Trades Building, (the west end of what is now Horton Hall), was completed in 1927. During the war years, 1941-1945, electricians were trained by the U.S. Navy at NDSSS. At that time, campus was much like a military base, under the guard of the Navy with restricted entry and exit points. Verlin Lundgren was hired in 1954 to add motor and temperature controls to the curriculum. In 1962, the two-year electrical course became known as Electrical Technology. With the need for more space, the Electrical program moved to Barnard Hall in 1967. By the mid-1970s, the department had 10 instructors and 140 first-year students, with some on a waiting list. Ken Kjar saw a rise in electricians hired for power plant jobs, manufacturing and testing of electrical devices. In the mid-1980s, programmable controllers and solid state controls were new electives taught to second-year students. Other specialties included advanced wiring and three-phase motor repair. Don Kruckenberg started a program that allowed students to complete the electrical courses in three years.

In 1985, Ivan Maas began teaching theory and math in the Electrical Technology department. With lower enrollment numbers, he moved to the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning areas. Maas took on the leadership of the Electrical Technology along with the Refrigeration, Heating and Cooling and Plumbing program when Don Kruckenberg retired. When asked if much has changed in his 30+ years of teaching, Maas replied, “yes and no.” He commented, “Electrons continue to power equipment and we still teach three amps plus four amps equal five amps.” (Remember your trig.) Maas feels the success of the Electrical Technology program over the years lies in a good foundation of theory and math intertwined with basic technical and mechanical skills and a good dose of code study.

The Electrical Technology program enrollment has been cyclical over the past several decades. Record numbers occurred in the 1970s when 150+ first-year students were accepted, followed by the lows in the 1980s with 38 first-year students. Recent highs in the 2000s topped out at 110 first-year students and have settled at an average of about 60 incoming first-year students each year. Students continue to bring energy and vitality to the department and learn to balance academics with personal and social life. Many of the students are from North Dakota, complete their schooling and find jobs in state. For a complete list of Electrical Technology instructors through the years visit NDSCSAlumni.com/Electrical Instructors.

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