Bridgeport-based 21st Century Equipment is one of two Nebraska companies to be awarded this year’s grants for the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative or DYTI for short.
21st Century and precision machined component manufacturer MetalQuest Unlimited of Hebron are each getting $125,000 grants to introduce middle school students to careers in such fields as IT, manufacturing, engineering, and healthcare.
Governor Pete Ricketts says DYTI encourages partnership between private sector companies and schools to expose middle schoolers to rewarding careers available in Nebraska.
He calls it “part of the talent pipeline we’ve built to connect our youth with great-paying jobs in our state,” adding that the program has had strong results.
21st Century Equipment is using its grant to create a mobile learning lab to serve middle school students at 19 schools throughout the Panhandle.
The lab’s focus is to familiarize students with technology used in precision agriculture, such as the navigational software used to program automated routes for ag equipment such as the John Deere tractors 21st Century sells.
The company, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, has 16 dealerships in Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming including Alliance, Gordon, Sidney, Scottsbluff, Bridgeport, and Torrington.
MetalQuest is purchasing equipment such as a construction system to introduce students to industrial robotics automation and coding while also partnering with schools in Gage, Jefferson, and Thayer counties to create a classroom curriculum.
As part of the DYTI partnership, MetalQuest employees will provide classroom instruction alongside teachers on various pieces of equipment. Governor Ricketts launched the DYTI grant program shortly after taking office in 2015. Administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the grants have program programs to 24,500 students in 66 Nebraska school districts.