Mike Michaelis, the former assistant to the dean of the Virtual College at Fort Hays State University and most recently executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, has taken the reins of the Energy Network of Education and Training.
Known informally as EnergyNET, the new educational program represents a total $1.6 million investment by the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Board of Regents.
FHSU is the lead institution for EnergyNET, which will coordinate a network of public higher education institutions across the state to provide enhanced hybrid and online workforce training.
"I think this is an opportunity for me to use previous work experience and knowledge," said Michaelis, who started his new position as director on Dec. 6. "I'm especially intrigued by the challenge of assessing the needs of the energy industry and identifying existing courses at community colleges and technical colleges so that we can bring the two together. This collaboration will provide the trained workers who can maximize the success of the industry. An immediate goal will be to put the courses the energy industry needs online so that they are available anywhere in the state."
Michaelis said he had a variety of work experiences that would equip him for the challenge. "I have previous experience in the administration at FHSU that will serve me well in working with the various schools and with the Board of Regents," he said. "Also, because of my work history, I've always been comfortable going into a business and understanding that operation and its needs."
"Our team at FHSU, led by Michaelis and Dr. Chris Crawford, assistant provost for quality management, will make EnergyNET a high priority," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "We are excited to build a model of flexible e-learning products and institutional collaboration to meet industry needs. I commend the Commerce Department and the Regents for investing in this innovative educational effort. This model has the potential to be used for additional industry sectors to meet state training needs."
"I was pleased with the number of qualified applicants for this position, but Mike's experience in distance education and many business connections made him the best choice," said Crawford. "Hiring a director who would move quickly to build partnerships with industry and higher education participants was essential. We knew that Mike would work hard to turn the EnergyNET vision into a successful statewide reality."
All the post-secondary public institutions in Kansas have been invited to join the network. FHSU will provide project management and coordination. Technical and community colleges will provide technical training for the energy sector, including positions such as lineworker, wind turbine technician, gas measurement technician, etc.
The goal of EnergyNET is to enhance the ability of the Kansas public higher education system in meeting the training needs of the energy industry. Areas that will be addressed include emerging energy, such as wind, solar, photovoltaic and biomass; traditional energy; electric power transmission and distribution; smart grid and energy security; and energy efficiency in residential, commercial and industrial applications.
Led by input from energy industry experts, training will be designed to deliver industry-defined skills and credentials. FHSU, working with Regents and Commerce staff, will convene industry advisory committees, coordinate curriculum enhancements and identify industry credentials. Partnering colleges will deliver the technical training, general education and foundational skills. The system will utilize flexible learning formats, especially high-quality interactive online learning courseware. The cooperative model will allow many institutions to participate in training.
"This new approach of workforce training will provide Kansas employers in the energy sector with quality training for incumbent and incoming workers using just-in-time delivery and a system approach for the entire state," said Dr. Blake Flanders, vice president for workforce development at the Board of Regents.
The $1.6 million investment comes from the federal Recovery Act and federal Perkins funding stream.
About the Kansas Board of Regents
The nine-member Kansas Board of Regents is the governing board of the state's six universities and the statewide coordinating board for the state's 32 public higher education institutions (seven public universities, nineteen community colleges and six technical colleges). In addition, the Board administers the state's student financial aid, adult education, GED, and career and technical education programs. The Board also authorizes private proprietary schools and out-of-state institutions to operate in Kansas and administers the Kan-ed network, a statewide network that provides broadband Internet access and distance learning capabilities for schools, hospitals and libraries. Visit the Kansas Board of Regents online at www.kansasregents.org.
About the Kansas Department of Commerce
As the state's lead economic development agency, the Kansas Department of Commerce strives to empower individuals, businesses and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Under the leadership of Secretary of Commerce Bill Thornton, the department comprises a variety of programs and services that create jobs, attract new investment, provide workforce training, encourage community development and promote the state as a wonderful place to live, work and play. For details, visit www.kansascommerce.com.
About Fort Hays State University
FHSU takes pride in being the leading forward-thinking, entrepreneurial university of the Midwest. FHSU has an enrollment of 12,000 students and offers hundreds of certificate and degree programs at the associate, bachelor and master levels through 28 academic departments. FHSU attracts goal-oriented students who want premier learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom combined with extraordinary one-to-one attention and support. Located halfway between Denver and Kansas City, FHSU is a welcoming community in the heart of historic Hays, a community that celebrates its frontier roots and its modern sensibility. For details, visit www.fhsu.edu.