A 50th anniversary celebration

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Alpena Community College concrete technology instructor Tim Onstwedder address those gathered for celebration marking 50 years for the program.

ALPENA – The doncrete technology program at Alpena Community College celebrated its 50th anniversary on Friday at the World Center for Concrete Technology.

“It’s a huge milestone and great credit to the instructors, students, employers, and everything for making an occupational program vibrant,” college President Dr. Don MacMaster said.

The first group of graduates was in the spring of 1972. Since then, there have been over 600 graduates from the concrete technology program.

“I graduated from the program in 1995,” instructor Tim Onstwedder said. “They built the building in 2000 and part of the addition to the program was research and development, so that’s what I started doing. In 2003, one of the other instructors was going to retire, so it was a natural fit for me to go into the role.”

Onstwedder has seen the jobs coming in for the students grow throughout the year.

“The one thing that happens every year is that we provide opportunities for our students,” he said. “Our job board year after year has between 100 and 150 jobs on it that are all over the place and are anywhere that the students want to work.”

Onstwedder said the concrete techn program is an up and down program and school officials are trying to get the word out about the program.

Thirty-eight was the largest number of graduates in 2009 and Onstwedder said around 20 students will graduate from the program in May.

“We’re trying to reach out to more past graduates and companies to help us promote,” Onstwedder said. “We are hoping students from certain geographical areas will come to Alpena for school and then go back to where they are from, so we are working on that. It’s hard to do though because everybody is busy.”

Onstwedder said two companies already have come in to talk to the students.

“After the first of the year, we usually have three or four companies per week come and interview the students,” he said.

Besser Company CEO Kevin Curtis and concrete techn alum Phil Carriveau also spoke to the audience on Friday.

“Besser Company really appreciates this program because our employees get to go around the world telling people about this wonderful opportunity that we have,” Curtis said. “This is a very unique program with 50 years of excellence and I hope we have another 50 years of excellence.”

MacMaster is hopeful the program will make it another 50 years.

“The numbers have mostly been up,” he said. “Occupational programs can fluctuate in terms of the economy in the areas they serve, but generally speaking, for construction, concrete, and building, those are things that won’t stop.”

MacMaster said there always will be a job market for the students who graduate from the concrete tech program.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.