BSU receives funding to promote manufacturing education

The 360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence at Bemidji State University will extend manufacturing education to high school students and establish a training program to develop tomorrow’s manufacturing supervisors, thanks to a pair of grants from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The center has received $94,000 from the system, which will be used to extend the center’s 360° eTECH certificate program to high-school students and train future manufacturing supervisors through its First-Line Supervisor Pilot Program.

Extension of 360° eTECH to high school students
The eTECH program offers four online certificates with hands-on labs. Originally designed for nontraditional students, funding provided through the grants will allow high school students to pursue certificates in a dual-enrollment option. By enrolling in eTECH, high school students will be able to pursue a certificate in production technologies. The certificate’s coursework is completely online, and students gain college credit along with entry-level skills to begin a career in manufacturing. This program will start in Fall 2014.

“360° eTECH offers an innovative way for high schools to provide students with technical skills and a head-start on a college degree, resulting in a viable career path in manufacturing,” says Jeremy Leffelman, assistant director for 360°. “This is the first time a consortium of colleges has offered anything like this in Minnesota.”

First-Line Supervisor Pilot Program
According to Wanted Analytics, in the past four months over 800 positions were posted in Minnesota for first-line supervisors of production and operating workers, indicating the need for this skillset.

Through its First-line Supervisor Pilot Program and 360° eTECH, the Center of Excellence will lead the effort to educate future supervisors to fill this need. The grant funding will support program design and articulation, curriculum development and workshops for faculty training for online education.

“We are excited about these opportunities to serve the manufacturing industry,” said Karen White, executive director for 360°. “We want to continue to enhance the pipeline and refine industry-driven curriculum that is relevant to industry’s needs so students are prepared to work in advanced manufacturing.”

About the 360° Center of Excellence
The 360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence is a consortium of 13 institutions led by Bemidji State University and includes Northwest Technical College and eleven other technical and community colleges. 360° is designing a 21st century education system that prepares individuals to have rewarding careers in manufacturing and meets the needs of the region’s manufacturing employers through an enhanced pipeline, industry-driven curriculum, and authentic assessment. 360° is a member of the Minnesota State College and Universities system and received a National Science Foundation award in 2012 to become an Advanced Technological Education Regional Center. To learn more, visit

Jessica Gehrke, communications specialist, 360° Center of Excellence; (218) 755-2209