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Two area colleges highlight partnership program with local businesses that ensure students are career-ready

(KTTC) – Workforce shortages due to low unemployment are threatening not only businesses across our area, but could impact regional economy as a whole.

Leaders with Rochester Community Technical College and Winona State University are highlighting their programs in technical fields, which can jump-start students on the path to solid careers.

Typically, college students begin looking for jobs near the end of their senior year.

But what what if they could start that process earlier? Maybe even train and use equipment you would use at the workplace, in college?

“The hands-on experience is just as important if not more important than the in-class experience,” said Ryan Bruesewitz, a senior at WSU’s Composite Materials Engineering Program.

School leaders, along with local business leaders and legislators held a workforce round-table discussion Tuesday, to get a sense of what they need to do to prepare students to meet workforce challenges.

These two schools have partnerships with local businesses and companies to meet current and future workforce needs.

Some even give students their equipment and let them use it in the classroom. Like COMTEC, or Composite Materials Technology Center.

” [They] will send us is some of their materials and we’ll mechanically characterize them do some thermal analysis, send them back the data. So it is for their company, it’s not just practice for the students. But we are able to get some hands-on experience,” said Bruesewitz.

Getting students an early jump on their careers can also help economic development in the region and across the country.

“The purpose of the tour is to see how we can deepen and enhance these partnerships which we have with the businesses and other community organizations, and what other opportunities are there where we can participate,” said Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra.

“There is a lot of equipment and facilities in this program that is second to none. It’s probably four or five million dollars worth of equipment that undergraduates have access to use, they’re actually for undergraduate use,” said Dr. Fariborz Parsi, Chair of the Composite Materials Engineering Program. “And that makes their education a lot more hands-on, very design-oriented so when they graduate from here they’re actually problem solvers rather than spending more time for employers to train them.”

Dr. Parsi said Winona State University is the only school in the nation that has a Composite Materials Engineering undergraduate program.

Ala Errebhi

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