Centers of Excellence

The Centers of Excellence of Minnesota State were created in 2005 as an initiative of the Governor and enacted and funded by the legislature per Minnesota Session Law 2005, Chapter 107, Article 2, Section 31, M.S.136F.31. Four centers were established in 2006 and four additional centers were formed in 2013 in response to the 2012 Workforce Assessment Initiative, sponsored collaboratively with the colleges and universities of Minnesota State, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Minnesota State Chamber of Commerce.

Centers of Excellence promote connectivity between industry and our colleges and universities. We help students gain access to the latest technologies and work-based learning opportunities, and facilitate education and training for business partners to meet their workforce needs today and into the future. The Centers help keep Minnesota’s economy globally competitive in six critical industry sectors:

  • Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing and engineering
  • Transportation

The work of the Centers are focused on the system’s strategic framework and provide a strong foundation for greater collaboration among our colleges and universities. They are responsive to the rapid changes in industry and employment, and offer innovative teaching and learning strategies.

Advance IT Minnesota

AdvanceIT strives to promote information technology (IT) career success for learners and provide employers with the IT talent needed to thrive in the information age. The center has three strategic goals:

  1. Increase enrollment of qualified students in Minnesota State IT programs by promoting IT career interest and readiness to target populations;
  2. Enhance alignment of student learning outcomes with IT employer expectations and requirements; Foster initial job attainment and career advancement of Minnesota State graduates.
  3. Advance IT Minnesota provides a variety of resources and programs to support these goals and works directly with IT program faculty.

Key initiatives:

  • Curriculum development needed for new programs and integration of workplace skills in IT programs;
  • Student competitions that simulate “real world” application and promote student-employer connections;
  • Websites that provide career, program and labor market information needed by faculty and students for decision making.

Wilson Garland
(612) 659-7228

HealthForce Minnesota

HealthForce Minnesota provides the healthcare industry with a well-trained, flexible workforce; creates ongoing capacity to transform health science education and delivery; and is positioning Minnesota as a global leader in healthcare education, practice, research and innovation. Led by Winona State University, Healthforce Minnesota partners with educators and employers to identify and solve healthcare workforce challenges.

Key Initiatives:

  • Healthcare Education Industry Partnership (HEIP) Council, an advisory council of healthcare employers, educators, state agencies, and organizations meet quarterly to focus on Minnesota’s healthcare workforce challenges and opportunities;
  • The Clinical Coordination Partnership (TCCP), an organization that increases clinical site capacity through standardized and transparent processes;
  • Mental Health Workforce, a convening of statewide mental health practitioners and advocates who created a mental health workforce plan for the Minnesota Legislature;
  • SCRUBS camps provides high school and middle school students the opportunity to explore healthcare careers.

Valerie Defor
(507) 429-6652

360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering

360º is guided by the vision of a 21st Century education system that prepares individuals to participate fully in rewarding careers in manufacturing and which meets the needs of the region’s manufacturing employers. A single goal is pursued: to increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of technicians in the field of manufacturing. To accomplish the goal, 360° advances two objectives:

  1. Enhanced Pipeline—Prepare students for rigorous manufacturing programs that entices them to pursue manufacturing careers; and
  2. Industry-driven Curriculum- Curriculum that is relevant to today’s and tomorrow’s manufacturing industry.

Key Initiatives:

  • Technology and career events for middle school and high school youth;
  • VEX Robotics Competition for middle school and high school youth;
  • Dream !t Do !t Statewide Recruitment Program;
  • Minnesota Statewide Tour of Manufacturing;
  • 360º Seamless Career Pathway with the eTECH multi-college, online and hands-on consortium based certificates, AAS degree to university BAS degree.

Jeremy Leffelman
(218) 755-4222

Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence

The Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (MNCEME) is a consortium of two-year colleges located throughout Minnesota, led by Minnesota State University, Mankato. The center’s goal is to develop forward-looking engineering and advanced manufacturing talent for industry.

Key Initiatives:

  • Foundational engineering associate in science degrees offered by several MNCEME institutions designed to enable students to transfer into 4-year engineering programs;
  • Iron Range Engineering (IRE) and Twin Cities Engineering (TCE), two project-based engineering degree programs;
  • Partnership with Smart Software Solutions (3S) to provide training and consultative services in the use of advanced embedded controllers for automation of industrial processes;
  • Minnesota Project Lead The Way (PLTW) for K-12 students;
  • Latino Engineering Academic Day (LEAD) and African-American Engineering Day, promoting STEM careers to high school students;
  • STEM summer camps for middle school students.

Jason Bruns
(507) 389-1309

Center for Agriculture - Southern Minnesota

The Center of Agriculture of Southern Minnesota builds educational and business partnerships at all levels and within industries to fuel innovation, develop research programs, prepare industry professionals, and create opportunities both domestically and internationally. The center provides students, teachers, and citizens broad network resources, career pathway options, and industry education to assist in successful innovation to prepare for the changing future.

Key Initiatives:

  • Agricultural Symposium – farmer, industry, student and faculty enhancements;
  • Internships in the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) industry;
  • Educator professional development – Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE Institutes);
  • FFA career development events, sponsorship and enhancement of career pathways in AFNR;
  • Industry partnerships'
  • Farm business management education.

Brad Schloesser
(507) 389-7263

Minnesota Agriculture Center for Excellence – North -  AgCentric

The Minnesota Agriculture Center for Excellence - North is a consortium of three colleges located in North, Central, and Western Minnesota. The Center is located at Central Lakes College (lead), Ridgewater College, and Northland Community and Technical College. Our goal is to develop and support excellence in agricultural, natural resources, and horticulture programs and career pathways in partnership with K-12, government, other academic institutions and the industry.

Goals are accomplished through secondary outreach, articulated partnership programs, innovative industry partnerships with employment and research, degree and apprentice programs, professional development, customized training, and collaboration between industry and academia.

Key Initiatives:

  • Developing articulated career pathways and bridging academies with secondary schools;
  • Developing agriculture and FFA summer camps for K-12 students;
  • Hosting FFA regional camps and competitions;
  • Developing common and shared curriculum offerings in agriculture, natural resources, and horticulture that increases access to more students.

Keith Olander

Minnesota Energy Center

The Minnesota Energy Center (MnEC) is a consortium of two-year colleges located throughout Minnesota, led by Minnesota West Community and Technical College and St Cloud Technical and Community College. Our primary focus is development of programming to prepare technicians for the energy production industry. Degree programs cover the broad spectrum of energy production technologies including Bio-fuels, Ethanol, Solar, Wind, Fossil Fuels, and Nuclear.

Key Initiatives:

  • Workforce Development– the right education and training to support the energy industry;
  • Pipeline– increased awareness of energy related career opportunities;
  • Research– education and Industry partnerships that advance research in energy related fields;
  • Collaboration at national level with the Center for Energy Workforce Development and the Nuclear Energy Institute;
  • Regional collaboration with Great Lakes States partnership;
  • Education partner for the Minnesota Energy Consortium.

Bruce Peterson
(320) 308-6639

Minnesota Transportation Center

The Minnesota Transportation Center of Excellence is a consortium of 12 two-year colleges located throughout Minnesota, led by Dakota County Technical College. The Transportation Center is focused on developing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the current and future needs of the transportation industry in Minnesota. This is accomplished through K-12 outreach, promotion of best practices, professional development, and collaboration between industry, secondary and post-secondary institutions.

Key initiatives:

  • Partner with high school automotive and diesel programs to develop academies;
  • Serve as a central contact point between industry sectors and higher education;
  • Collaborate with subject matter experts in higher education and industry to develop a “tool box of best practices” to ensure programs are prepared for new and expanding technologies/
  • Promote awareness of employment opportunities in transportation industry careers including aviation, rail, and marine.

Chris Hadfield
(651) 423-8311