|Posted on: February 02, 2017|
Western Iowa Tech Community College’s (WITCC) Alumni Board is proud to announce David R. Miller and Tasha Barker as 2016 Alumni of the Year. The WITCC Alumni Board honored two outstanding alumni in celebration of WITCC’s 50th Anniversary. The awards were given on December 21 at the WITCC graduation commencement at the Orpheum Theatre. The winners were honored for their personal achievements and their service/commitment to their communities and to Western Iowa Tech Community College.
David R. Miller graduated from Western Iowa Tech Community College on May 10, 1973 with an Associate Degree in Mechanical Drafting and Design. He was hired by Coors immediately after graduation.
“Coors hired me the same day that I interviewed for the job because they were impressed with WITCC’s curriculum and sample engineering drawings that I completed prior to graduation,” said Miller.
“WITCC had great instructors and mentors like Mr. Ray Kindler, one of my first mentors at WITCC. Mr. Kindler was a Design Engineer for Martin Marietta in Denver prior to joining WITCC as an instructor. Mr. Kindler and I spent many lunch hours talking about his years working on aerospace designs. He was a great inspirational leader to all of his students!” said Miller.
Upon being hired by Coors, David was assigned to Coors Container Company in Golden, Colorado as a Mechanical Designer working on aluminum can related projects. The can plant is the largest “single” can plant in the world, supplying aluminum containers to the largest “single” brewery in the world.
In 1976, Miller moved to the End Manufacturing Plant to focus on end, or “lid”, related company projects. Miller’s projects over the years included: Design Engineer I, Design Engineer II, Design Engineer III, Design Engineer IV, Research & Development Engineer, Corporate Engineering Manager, Plant Engineering Manager, and Technical Director for both Container Plants. He has also won many awards in his industry.
“I promised my wife that someday I would reconnect with WITCC and be a champion or mentor for future graduates. I would love to be able to meet with future students and discuss how their education will help them to succeed in the future. My job at Coors allowed me to interact with departments that need highly skilled technical people in the future. I would love to be the future ‘Mr. Kindler’ at WITCC!”
A 1993 graduate of East High, Tasha Barker began working at Gateway Computers advancing up through customer service, sales, finance, manufacturing, global products and finally the Gateway Country Stores until 1999. She then devoted two years to Christian ministry and working at Belle of Sioux City. While working full time and raising her son, Barker began her non-traditional, post-secondary education at WITCC in 2002.
“I had enrolled to be a part of the inaugural Online Certificate of Nursing Program. Upon completion of my LPN exam, I proceeded into the Associates Degree of Nursing Program. It was a very proud moment for all of my family, as I was the first person in my family to obtain a college diploma.” said Barker.
Her experience and advanced education allowed her to move up in her career with the casino. She spent the next six years as the Compliance and Regulatory Manager for The Argosy Casino during which time she continued her education through the WITCC extension program with Bellevue University. She completed her BS in Healthcare Management and is working to complete her MBA program there as well.
During her time at the casino, Barker says she was fortunate to have worked with many non-profit organizations and had the pleasure of joining the Foundation Board at WITCC in 2012. While on this board, she was introduced to the President and CEO of TEC Corp, Skip Perley. In 2013, she made a career decision and accepted a position to work with Skip Perley at Electric Innovations.
“Today I serve as the General Manager for Electric Innovations. I am currently the President of the Foundation Board at WITCC. I am a board member for the Foundation at Unity Point and am a long-standing Community Impact Volunteer for the United Way of Siouxland. I am the proud mother of two boys. My oldest son is a busy young man who lives and works in Sioux City, while my youngest son is at home with me in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. My personal interests include anything that involves family, friends and lots of laughter,” said Barker.