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Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Flanagan Tours the Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center and Bemidji State University's School of Technology, Art & Design

Bemidji, MN – April 12, 2024 - Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan recently toured Bridgeman Hall, home to the Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence (Center) on the campus of Bemidji State University (BSU).

During the visit, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan and her team talked with Jeremy Leffelman, executive director of the Center, to discuss two crucial grants awarded to the Center by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to strengthen Minnesota's advanced manufacturing workforce. These grants include:

• Robotics Funding and STEM Internships: This initiative expands high school robotics programs, introduces students from underrepresented communities to STEM careers, and offers internship opportunities.

• Drive for Five Workforce Initiative: This grant aims to grow Minnesota's manufacturing workforce by training and placing individuals in family-sustaining wage careers over the next 15 months.

Both grants directly align with the Center's mission of creating a robust pipeline for advanced manufacturing careers and empowering the next generation of manufacturing professionals.

Tim Knudson, vice president at Wells Technology, a Bemidji-based manufacturing company, was present on the tour and emphasized the importance of their ongoing partnership with the Center. He spoke about the value of internship opportunities created by the grants and collaborative efforts to build a strong pipeline for future manufacturing professionals.

“We are grateful for all the support we have received from the Center,” he said. “This year, with the help of Jeremy and his team at the Center, we are going to be able to bring students from Red Lake High School into our training center to give them an introduction to CNC (computer numerical control) machining and we hope that can launch them into a formal degree program or an apprenticeship program.”

Leffelman pointed to Knudson’s collaborative example and emphasized the grants' role in not only bolstering the manufacturing workforce but also fostering the vital connection between education and industry.

“The Center is dedicated to solidifying the bridge between manufacturing and education," Leffelman stated. "We are committed to equipping individuals with the skills and training necessary for success in advanced manufacturing careers, ultimately leading to family-sustaining wages, fulfilling employment, and significant contributions to Minnesota's economic well-being."

Lieutenant Governor Flanagan's tour included Bridgeman Hall, which houses BSU's School of Technology, Art and Design (STAD). Notably, the STAD program boasts the nation's only undergraduate exhibit design major and a remarkable 100% job placement rate for graduates. The tour encompassed visits to four of the building's labs: machining, large format printing, extended/virtual reality, and 3D printing. STAD also works closely with the Center.

During the tour, Leffelman and Sachel Josefson, associate professor in TAD, showcased a stage backdrop, designed and created by STAD students specifically for the Center’s upcoming event, the 1st Annual Minnesota Manufactured™ Statewide Tour Awards Banquet on April 25th at Saint Paul College. This collaborative project exemplifies the strong partnership between the Center and the School of Technology, Art and Design.

Drew Graham, associate professor and chair of STAD, led the tour through the department's labs. Additionally, BSU President John Hoffman discussed the university's positive enrollment trends with Lieutenant Governor Flanagan.

Throughout the tour, Flanagan expressed her enthusiasm for the grants, the Center's initiatives, STAD’s programs, and the positive enrollment trends at the university.

“It’s so fun to see where we have made investments as a state that we don’t always get to see firsthand,” Flanagan concluded. “Thank you.”

For More Information 

For further information please contact Jeremy Leffelman, executive director of the Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, at jeremy.leffelman@minnstate.edu or (218) 755-4222. 

 

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