Real students, real stories

Hear what these students have to say about their experiences in career technical education programs. You'll find that these programs are helping them develop workplace skills that they can apply in their chosen careers.

Dan ZimmermanDan Zimmerman, a construction electrician student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, uses the welder simulator. The screen shows what he sees through his goggles. Using the machine, a VRTEX 360, as a teaching tool is just one way that career technical education programs offered by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities evolve to create cutting-edge learning opportunities. The machine consists of virtual reality goggles similar to those used in laser tag games and a welding electrode connected to a tracking system. A device surrounding the welder simulates the sights, sounds and feel of welding. Once the instructor creates a welding scenario, such as filling a groove on a building, the student can practice maneuvering the welding electrode in a digital world.

As the student welds, the machine tracks speed angle and eye-hand coordination, displaying the student's performance on the computer screen. The instructor can then offer precise directions for improving technique.
(Learn more about electrical construction and technology).

Heidi CappHeidi Capp, a graduate of the mechatronics program at Alexandria Technical and Community College now works for Bostin Scientific. Mechatronics is a relatively new field that combines mechanics, electronics and information technology into a single discipline. Mechatronics technicians have a broad understanding of how mechanical and electrical energy is produced, controlled and used.
(Learn more about mechatronics).

Shawn HagenShawn Hagen, a student in the business management program at Minnesota State University Moorhead, started his education at South Central College earning a degree in computer integrated machining. Shawn Hagen "I knew in 10th grade in my industrial arts and trade class that I wanted to work with metal. I just didn't know that they had a college for it until we had a guest speaker from South Central talk to our class."

Hagen embarked on a custom guitar business during his sophomore year at South Central College. Seemingly a born entrepreneur and marketer, he and a cousin produced a 4-minute video to promote his guitars. And Hagen and his friend Tye Haslip, a commercial technical art graduate of South Central, collaborated on the design and custom paint that completed the guitar. "I'd love to be machining guitars full time. It's a great way for me to combine my passion for machining and music. I'd then be living the dream."
(Learn more about computer integrated machining and business management).

Kristin Green, a student from Saint Paul College studying welding. "I wanted to choose a trade that was completely different, but one I could also use artistically and creatively if I wanted to. I have been a hairstylist for six years, but I have also been in the construction industry as a laborer and found I really enjoy hard work. The hands-on aspect is so rewarding. You need to have a delicate touch, you need to have patience, and you need to focus on what you are doing from the moment you lay that first bead through the end of your project. It's a great time to be in school, and if you have a skill set like welding that you can bring to the table, it's going to give you a big advantage."
(Learn more about welding).

Chiharu Miller, a student from Saint Paul College studying cabinetmaking. As an interior designer, I saw there was often a communication barrier between the designers and the trade workers - they were speaking different languages and had different ways of seeing things. I think people like me who learn both sets of skills can help bridge that barrier.
(Learn more about cabinetmaking).