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Daktronics, Lake Area Tech partner to fund education through Build Dakota scholarship

Written in 2017



For three years, hundreds of students in South Dakota have earned technical degrees at no cost thanks to the Build Dakota scholarship fund.


Build Dakota is a $50 million scholarship program funded by the state of South Dakota and a donation from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford. Scholarship winners can choose one of more than 60 programs at the state’s four technical institutes.


The program is available to both in-state and out-of-state students but requires graduates to work full-time in their field of study in South Dakota for a minimum of three years.

One Brookings scholarship winner chose robotics at Lake Area Technical Institute while working in electronic assembly at Daktronics.


Daniel Langston had been working at Daktronics for about a year when he applied for a three-year robotics program at LATI and then learned about the Build Dakota scholarship.


“I heard about the scholarship and it sounded awesome so I signed up for it,” Langston said. “I had a phone interview to qualify and eventually found out I got it. At the time I didn’t even know Daktroincs was doing this.”


As part of Daktronics’ commitment to helping employees further their education, half of Langston’s scholarship is funded by Daktronics through LATI’s “Stretch the Million” program.


“Daktronics supports the Build Dakota scholarship initiative because we recognize the evolving nature of the workforce in South Dakota and need to shift strategies to meet those workforce needs in the future,” said Lily Bartel, corporate recruiter for Daktronics.


“Partnering with Lake Area Technical Institute to ‘Stretch the Million’ helps us both enhance the educational opportunities of existing employees and keeps critical workforce skills within the state of South Dakota.”


“Stretch the Million” helps extend the longevity of Build Dakota’s scholarship dollars for LATI by teaming up with industry partners like Daktronics.


Langston was given the opportunity to sign a commitment with Daktronics to continue his work in the company while fulfilling his minimum three-year requirement for the scholarship.

Langston said he looks to move from his line lead position to becoming a repair technician or working in maintenance in EA, which is more hands on.


In his studies, Langston is looking forward to beginning work with 3D printers later this year.

“We get kits to build our own 3D printer and it’s ours after that and then we get to build stuff with it,” Langston said.


Currently working nights at Daktronics, Langston is completing his program online and spends most of his Saturdays learning in a hands-on lab.


Langston said he enjoys the hands-on work and learning to program equipment, take things apart and learning to put all the parts together.


“We built our own power supply, that was pretty fun,” Langston said. “Basically they gave us a box full of a bunch of parts and we put everything together then ran tests to make sure everything was functioning properly.”


With two years left to earn his robotics degree, Langston said he’s grateful for the Build Dakota scholarship and the opportunity to work in his field at Daktronics.


“I always wanted to work here [Daktronics] since high school,” Langston said. “It’s pretty awesome, especially with the education opportunity.”

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