Minnesota State College Southeast gets $516,513 grant to expand high school credit program

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — Minnesota State College Southeast has received a $516,513 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand its partnerships that provide college credits and credentials to high school students.
Through the project, entitled “Rural Electronics Education Hub Pilot in the Upper Mississippi River Basin,” Minnesota State College Southeast will expand the pipeline of skilled technicians into electronics careers, according to a news release from the school, which has campuses in Winona and Red Wing.
The grant is modeled after an NSF award of $441,952 to the college in 2019 to establish a rural advanced manufacturing education hub.
“This latest NSF grant will expand our partnerships with regional high schools by increasing opportunities for high school students to earn certificates in electronics and CNC,” said Interim President Larry Lundblad, who noted that the model serves students from 10 schools in the region.
“The grant will allow more school districts to provide their students with greater opportunities in career and technical education,” Lundblad said.
Academic Innovation Dean Heather Conley said the school is formulating a basic electronics certificate with four core classes: Intro to DC Electricity, Intro to AC Electricity, DC Theory and Circuits and Digital Electronics I.
“These courses are common to a number of career pathways taught at the college, giving younger students flexibility as they learn about where they’d like to focus their attention,” Conley said.
The nine-credit “Introduction to Electronics Certificate” will be targeted toward high school students but also will be used for entry level training or for under skilled or displaced workers in the region.
At MSC Southeast, the certificate can lead to additional studies in mechatronics, biomedical technology, electronics technology, electrical engineering technology and computer engineering technology.
“The grant calls for us to provide instruction through a combination of methods including face-to-face lab instruction, online theory and online simulation,” said
Marc Kalis, an electronics instructor at MSC Southeast who is responsible for project oversight, management, curriculum development and acquisition of equipment and curricular materials.
“We will start out with students coming to our campuses for the lab component as much as possible,” Kalis said. “But given the situation with COVID-19, it’s good timing for us to explore online and distance learning options.”
The new NSF grant also calls for the college to develop recruitment and support strategies to encourage female, underserved/underrepresented and Native American students to select STEM education pathways and enter the workforce in electronics-related careers.
“Employers throughout our area are constantly in need of employees for high-demand, high wage jobs that require specialized skills in electronics, mechatronics and related fields,” Lundblad said. “This new NSF grant will help MSC Southeast and our partners meet those needs.”