By Larry Lundblad and Travis M. Thul, Minnesota State College Southeast

Over the last 36 months, Minnesota State College Southeast has been investing heavily in growing its campus in Red Wing through community integration and novel initiatives that include specialized customized training, entrepreneurship opportunities, and unique high-tech destination majors. These initiatives are leveraging the unique threads of the local community and weaving them into educational opportunities that span the nation and the globe.

The college is joining with other community and business partners to further develop Red Wing as an industrial hub for southeastern Minnesota. Red Wing manufacturers produce a diverse array of products including roller skates, nuclear fuel handlers, and shoes that require a variety of technical specialists who can attend to the many processes required to produce the final product.

The college is undertaking a customized training initiative to address the training needs of skilled professionals through a partnership with UL (formally Underwriters Laboratory) to bring world class training directly to Red Wing. This training, taught by UL's own professional engineers, is available to Red Wing technicians, engineers, and electricians, as well as professionals from across the three state region. Out of town participants will stay in Red Wing hotels and eat at Red Wing restaurants as they gain the skills required for 21st century manufacturing (1).

Because of its rich history of industry, the Red Wing community encourages entrepreneurship. To provide a place for entrepreneurs to meet and create, MSC Southeast partnered with Red Wing Ignite and the Red Wing Makers to launch the first Makerspace in southeastern Minnesota. This community laboratory, including wood, metalworking, and plastics engineering resources, provides a space for would-be entrepreneurs to dream big.

With minimal overhead costs and using repurposed lab equipment, MSC Southeast and our community partners are able create a place at the college that welcomes makers of all ages and capabilities with minimal costs. (2).

Understanding that MSC Southeast's mission exceeds serving current professionals and weekend makers, we are also working diligently to train the next generation of technologists. Knowing that generation Z will resonate with Red Wing's outdoor appeal, high technology manufacturing, and artistic flare, MSC Southeast launched the world's first Associate of Applied Science in Bicycle Design & Fabrication. This mechanical engineering technology curriculum, wrapped around the application of bikes and their components, has drawn prospective students from as far afield as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Columbia; has brought a brand new faculty member (Mr. Chase Spaulding) from North Carolina; and has enhanced Red Wing's status as a cycling epicenter. This program, which now has a wait list, would not be possible without the support of local community members such as Mayor Sean Dowse, Mr. Mike Ford, and Mr. Tom Wolner (3).

While these successes over the last 36 months are not all inclusive, we believe they underscore MSC Southeast 's goals to be a partner in building a destination community for industry and individuals, serve our local employers, and grow a one-of-a-kind campus that specializes in industrial craftsmanship. Together with our community partners, we can continue to make Red Wing a magnet for the creative, the entrepreneurial, and the motivated; truly a place for endless career opportunities and a lifetime of learning. Just wait for what is yet to come!

 

1. For information regarding UL training at MSC Southeast, please contact Ms. Katy Hardyman-Morem - khardyman@southeastmn.edu

2. For information regarding The Makerspace at MSC Southeast, please contact Ms. Neela Molgaard - neela@redwingignite.org

3. For information regarding the Bicycle Design & Fabrication degrees, please contact Mr. Chase Spaulding - chase.spaulding@southeastmn.edu

 

Larry Lundblad is interim president and and Travis Thul is Dean of Trade & Technology at Minnesota State College Southeast.