|Offering quality programs with industry-experienced faculty has provided Bismarck State College's National Energy Center of Excellence (NECE) with a strong foundation for success. The NECE's roots began with major energy production in North Dakota and the need for specialized training in the state. Bismarck State College responded to those needs by developing the Power Plant Technology (PWRP) program in 1976, with strong support from the local power generating facilities. This was the first program of its type in the country. Today, BSC offers 12 energy programs preparing students to fill an array of in demand roles throughout the energy industry.
The Process Plant Technology (PROP) program was created in 1981 due to similar demand from the local gasification and refining facilities and has been nationally recognized as an outstanding vocational program by the U.S. Department of Education.
After 22 years of offering these programs on campus, BSC partnered with the energy industry and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to secure a National Science Foundation award. The award gave BSC the opportunity to offer the Power Plant and Process Plant Technology Programs online for the first time in 1999.
In the fall of 2001, BSC began offering the Electric Power Technology (ELPW) program online with support from the Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE). This coalition of utility companies and organizations provides BSC valuable input on industry needs.
In the fall of 2003, BSC began offering the Electrical Transmission Systems Technology (ETST) and Nuclear Power Technology (NUPT) programs online. Both programs received funding through National Science Foundation grants. The Nuclear Power Technology program is supported by the EPCE coalition.
In October of 2005, BSC received grant funding from the State of North Dakota as part of the first round awarded through Governor John Hoeven's Center of Excellence program. Each Center of Excellence has an area of focus, with BSC's being energy education and training.
On May 18, 2007, United States Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman designated Bismarck State College as the National Power Plant Operations Technology and Education Center. This official designation recognizes BSC as the premier national center of education and training for operators and technicians in the energy industry.
BSC delivered another program to meet the educational demands of its energy technology students and industry partners by obtaining approval from the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission to offer a four-year online degree in energy management. Courses for the Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Energy Management began in January 2008. The BAS is designed to educate energy workers to move into supervisory and management positions.
On September 29, 2008 the National Energy Center of Excellence ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the state-of-the-art facility and the accomplishments of the energy technology programs. The center is home to the National Center of Excellence programs, BSC Administration and the Continuing Education department.
In August 2010, the National Energy Center of Excellence expanded on its portfolio of programs and began the Renewable Generation Technology program, later renamed Energy Services & Renewable Technician.
In July 2011, the Instrumentation and Control, Lineworker and Mechanical Maintenance programs joined the National Energy Center of Excellence. This would be followed by the start of yet another new program to continue to meet the needs of all sectors of the industry. The Petroleum Production Technology program began online in August 2011.
In August 2012, the Water and Wastewater Technology certificate program began online. This program was developed due to a large demand for qualified water treatment operators.
The NECE also houses the Great Plains Energy Corridor (GPEC). Through the efforts of U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, the GPEC was created to advance the development of North Dakota's abundant and diverse energy sources. The GPEC also provides outreach services to the energy industry and serves as a focal point for information on North Dakota's energy industry.