MISSOULA – Missoula College received a gift of $100,000 to endow a scholarship designed to bolster access to trades education at the two-year institution. The gift comes from a career Montanan journeyman who wants to support Montana’s next-generation of skilled tradespeople.

The scholarship will support second-year Sustainable Construction Technology students in the Industrial Technology Department who are also pursuing a Construction Management Certificate.

(Photo: UM News Service)
(Photo: UM News Service)

“These additional resources will help tear down some of the financial barriers students face when pursuing their training and education,” said John Freer, director of Missoula College’s Sustainable Construction Technology Program and interim chair for the Department of Industrial Technology. “The most effective way that we can fill Montana’s workforce shortage is to invest in successful and proven programs like the Sustainable Construction Program at Missoula College. Having basic skills to work on the business is just as important as having the hands-on skills to work on the jobsite, and many students are looking forward to learning both.”

The scholarship was established by the family of Walter T. Irion. Irion and his wife of 65 years, Ruby, are both longtime Great Falls residents. Irion is a graduate of Power High School and a general contractor for over 40 years who earned his Journeyman’s Certificate from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in 1950.

Over Irion’s career, he built numerous homes and businesses including the Sovereign Grace Church (formerly Sunnyside Methodist) and the remodeled West Side Methodist Church in Great Falls. On the job, Irion said he led by example and wants to support students who are pursuing careers in the construction industry.

 “The trade skills I learned were very important,” Irion said. “But it was time management and organization that were the most important keys to my business success. I’m proud to support the next-generation of Montana tradesmen in developing these critical skills.”

The Certificate of Applied Sciences - Construction Management degree provides students the opportunity to learn construction skills in a competency-based learning environment. In addition to general education courses, students in the program learn the various steps to becoming a successful tradesperson, as well as the additional skills required to manage their own projects or small construction-related business, including estimating, scheduling, budgeting and basic management skills.

Freer added that the heightened focus on trades reiterates the integral importance of workforce education, and the Ruby and Walter T. Irion Scholarship will provide opportunities for students who might not otherwise have the financial means to pursue these educational opportunities.

Visit the Missoula College website to learn more about the Sustainable Construction Technology Program.

- by UM News Service -

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