Sponsored by Oregon Business

Digging deeper in Klamath Falls

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009



Photo by Jamie Lusch

Last year, the Oregon Institute of Technology became the first university in the nation to award degrees in renewable energy engineering. Now the Klamath Falls-based school is on its way to becoming the world’s first geothermal-powered campus, with a 1.5-megawatt geothermal power plant due to be completed by the spring of 2010.

The often overlooked polytechnic institution has eight campuses spread throughout Oregon and Washington, collaborations with Boeing, OHSU and ODS, and perhaps most importantly in these job-scarce times, a 98% placement rate, with average starting salaries for graduates hovering around $50,000.

Chris Maples, a paleontologist by training, took over as OIT president last October.

Are you seeing an increase in admissions in this economy?

We are. The majors that we have in the allied health sciences and engineering areas are about as recession resistant a group as one can find.

Have you had to adjust scholarships or financial aid given the loss of education funds in most families?

There also has been a corresponding loss of scholarship money in every foundation in the nation. So we are trying to adjust the best we can to meet the influx of new students and the declining budgets. We are pretty smart about how we hire faculty.

We hire a number of adjunct faculty who bring wonderful expertise into the system and get paid virtually nothing to do it. I recently had an adjunct faculty member tell me that he works at his company to support his teaching habit and there’s a lot of truth in that. We couldn’t function without them. These are people with real-world experience and knowledge to impart to our students. It’s not just theoretical, it’s not dated information, it’s the real thing.

We have Boeing people, we have Intel people; we have all sorts of people from all types of sectors. And some of our areas are growing like mad, even in a time of declining budgets, like our renewable energy engineering program.

Weren’t you the first in the nation to offer that degree?

We were. And we’ve gone from three or four students choosing that major to 118 in the program’s first four years.

And now you’re launching your own renewable energy experiment.

We’re already starting the drilling process, to go very deep to tap into hot water several thousand feet down underground. The goal is to put enough of a power plant on site that it will generate not only our needs but the needs of Sky Lakes Medical Center across the way, and to make the excess power available to any green development that might be occurring around our campus in Klamath Falls. It could make a great green business power opportunity.

It’s really a nice deal, and there are a number of companies that would really like to set up somewhere where there is green power for them to work from because that would match the overall company philosophy. Between that project and our new renewable energy engineering graduates coming out with their specific expertise, we think this could really take off and go.


More Articles

Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


100 Best Nonprofits announced

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1015-nonprofits01Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.


Let it Rain

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

This year has been so dry we were caught napping when it finally started to sprinkle. Hopefully you didn’t get caught in a downpour while eagerly awaiting — don’t deny it — our curation of Oregon-grown wet weather wear.


The List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For project attracted more than 150 nonprofits from around the state from a variety of sectors, including social services and environmental advocacy.  More than 5,000 employees and volunteers filled out the survey, rating their satisfaction with work environment, mission and goals, career development and learning, benefits and compensation, and management and communications.


Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


Grain Food

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Power Lunch at Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Restaurant.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02