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.
MnEC Activity Hubs:
- 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
To fully appreciate the Minnesota Energy Center we must reflect on the origins that led us to where we are today. In 2008, a core group of college leaders came together to apply for a Department of Labor grant in the High Growth Jobs Training Initiative. Titled the “Minnesota Training Partnership for a Sustainable Energy Economy”, the group set out with several key goals:
- To develop clear, robust pathways for students to pursue energy careers that are in step with rapidly evolving labor force needs across Minnesota
- To Increase enrollments in energy training programs, thereby expanding the pipeline of skilled workers ready for employment or promotion
While there is a great deal of detail behind each of these goals, the alliance set out to achieve these goals with the funding of just over $1 million from the Depart of Labor. Significant time was spent to research the many fields of the industry, identify core skills that cross all areas, develop areas of specialization, and provide for on-line training where possible. Over the next two years these goals were realized and programming in the Energy Technical Specialist program was launched in 2010 at 10 colleges across the state.
In the years since, the program has continued to evolve. The addition of Nuclear technician training has been added to the program at two of our colleges. This program received certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which largely validated the rigor of our ETS program as well.
Because of the work done by this team over the years, the Energy industry was chosen for analysis during the “Listening Sessions” that were held in the spring of 2012 hosted by the MnSCU Chancellors Office and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of these sessions was to hear from industry leaders and discern how MnSCU colleges and universities are doing currently and what we need to improve in the future to provide for the needs of Minnesota’s industries. As a result of those sessions, a core group came together to identify a set of goals for MnSCU institutions and strategies on how best to reach those goals.
In fall 2012, the Minnesota Energy Center was established to continue the work and grow our focus on the Energy Industry across Minnesota. Currently we have 12 campuses from 10 MnSCU colleges actively engaged in the work of the center. We continue to develop our programs and re-design where needed to adjust to changing needs on the Minnesota industry landscape. The Energy Center continues to lead in program development at the national level and is very engaged with several other states in collaborative activities.