RED WING -- When Minnesota State College Southeast compiled the results of a recent survey of area businesses, the college learned there is a strong need for training new workers in mechatronics.

On the survey, “the 21 companies projected 98 new hires in the next three years,” said Katie Hardyman Morem, director of business relations at MSCSE, “and 81% of new hires will need some sort of mechatronics training.”

Mechatronics is a field of training that involves a combination of mechanical systems, electrical devices, and automation. MSCSE offers Mechatronics Technology on its Winona campus and ran the survey to see if there is enough interest to expand the program to the Red Wing campus.

Katie Hardyman Morem, director of business relations at Minnesota State College Southeast, is looking for businesses that need employees trained in mechatronics skills.  Photo by Katryn Conlin/Minnesota State College Southeast
Katie Hardyman Morem, director of business relations at Minnesota State College Southeast, is looking for businesses that need employees trained in mechatronics skills. Photo by Katryn Conlin/Minnesota State College Southeast

During a Zoom conference June 24, Morem explained that grant money from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership will allow the Red Wing campus to offer selected mechatronics classes next fall.

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“We can offer some of the classes as needed,” Morem said. “We can offer what businesses need based on what employees need and what future hires will need.”

Andy George, who currently teaches mechatronics on the Winona campus, will start working two days per week in Red Wing. Through the summer, he and Morem will meet individually with local businesses to determine what classes are needed and set those classes up for the fall.

The first classes would be open to employees of the businesses that meet with George and Morem and request the training and skills they want to see for their employees. The grant will last two years, and after that, if there is enough interest, the classes may continue with open enrollment and could be expanded to an associate’s degree program.

“The main purpose of the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant is to help local businesses, but it is also to add curriculum to the local college,” Morem explained.

The grant may also be used to help buy equipment that would be necessary to offer these classes, according to George.

“We’ll be meeting with businesses and choosing the courses,” George said. “The more students we have, the more sections we will run, the more flexibility in terms of scheduling.”

One private donor has already given seed money to start this program. Morem and George said more funding, equipment, and in-kind donations would help the program get started and keep it going.

Anyone with questions about the grant, classes, or donations may contact Morem at 651-267-7706 or by email at khardyman@southeastmn.edu.