The Success Story of BSC's Process Technology Students: Landing Jobs at Dakota Gasification Company in Their Third Semester | Bismarck State College

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The Success Story of BSC's Process Technology Students: Landing Jobs at Dakota Gasification Company in Their Third Semester

Posted: Jan 09 2024
BSC Process Technology students working on 4 computer screens to monitor process plant operations.
At Bismarck State College (BSC) the journey from student to working professional is often a quick one. That’s what many BSC Process Technology students are experiencing–an accelerated leap in their career paths through BSC’s partnership with Dakota Gasification Company (DGC).

DGC is a for-profit subsidiary of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, which owns and operates the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, North Dakota. The Synfuels Plant is the only commercial-scale coal gasification facility in the United States that manufactures natural gas.

A leader in the energy industry, DGC has been offering BSC students the opportunity for a full-time, paid internship during their third semester in the program long before they graduate.

“When you come to BSC, come prepared to start your career within a short amount of time. It can happen quickly that you go from a new college student to a well-paid operator with a lifelong career,” said Dan Schmidt, BSC’s assistant dean of energy.

A Special Partnership: BSC and DGC

BSC’s more than 40-year partnership with DGC opens doors for BSC students to gain invaluable hands-on experience and secure employment opportunities early in their academic journey.

According to Schmidt, DGC, which operates the Great Plains Synfuels Plant in Beulah, ND, is leading an upward trend by offering early employment to students. “These early internships are happening with DGC and with other companies. It’s becoming the norm,” he said.

BSC Process Technology students who are interested in pursuing an internship can expect to complete two semesters of education. Then, if selected, will complete a paid summer internship at DGC, which can lead to permanent full-time employment. 

Typically, students in technical fields like Process Technology may not find employment until they have completed their degree. However, this partnership allows students to jump-start their careers while still pursuing their education.

Early Employment: Landing Jobs before the Third Semester

BSC Process Technology student Jaydon Johnson has just started his third semester in the program and has been working 12-hour, rotating shifts as an intern for DGC. His next two semesters will be entirely online, allowing him more flexibility to work at his internship and complete his schooling.

“You take your first two semesters in person for the hands-on learning. After your second semester, you can look into an internship or even a job offer. Learning on the job while going to school is very beneficial and will open a ton of doors,” said Johnson. “The biggest benefit of attending BSC is that you can work while attending school and have flexibility in your schedule.”

Real-World Learning Beyond the Classroom

For students who gain early employment, their learning doesn’t stop in the classroom. The DGC internship provides learning packets, which are self-paced, for the interns to study. The students can then ask the experienced operators questions and take them back to the online classroom.

“I will sometimes sit with the board operator to learn what he does, which helps me understand much better because I see it while it’s working,” said Johnson.

In addition to the internship training, Johnson gets real-world experience daily through doing some of the work of an operator, such as taking readings, checking equipment and oil/water levels, preparing for planned maintenance, assisting the operators, and learning processors, exchangers, pumps, and towers.

“You can start here at BSC in August, and by October, you'll be talking to people from the industry who are here to let you know that by next summer, they will probably want to hire you. It goes fast,” said Schmidt. “Get your resume polished because it won’t be long before you get an interview and land a great job.”

As BSC continues to innovate and build strong relationships with industry leaders like Dakota Gas, the future looks promising for its Process Technology students. They are well on their way to becoming highly skilled professionals in the energy industry, thanks to this groundbreaking opportunity.

“The partnership is a great thing because it motivates students to look into the industry, find a job and gives them an open door and an opportunity,” said Johnson.