Posted: February 5, 2009

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded two grants totaling nearly $4 million to South Central College and Pine Technical College to support community-based job training in advanced manufacturing.

“With the current downturn in the economy, these grants are especially welcome,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick. “They will help educate young people and retrain adults for high-demand jobs in important industries.

“We know the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system plays a vital role in Minnesota’s economic recovery,” McCormick added. “I applaud the foresight and hard work exhibited by the colleges to apply for these grants. They are awarded in a highly competitive process and help keep us on the cutting edge of technical education.”

A $1.9 million grant to Pine Technical College in Pine City will support teaching advanced manufacturing technology skills to high school students, particularly junior and seniors, and out-of-work or underemployed adults.

Pine Technical College and several industry partners and community organizations are collaborating to build awareness of career possibilities in the high-demand field of advanced manufacturing. During the next three years, the college plans to train more than 4,700 people in a six-county region that encompasses Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec and Pine counties in Minnesota and Polk and Burnett counties in Wisconsin.

The $1.9 million grant to South Central College, which has campuses in Faribault and North Mankato, will support a new two-year mechatronics degree program that begins this fall. A new and rapidly growing field, mechatronics combines electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics and computer control systems to create new and improved automated manufacturing production systems.

The program is designed for people interested in plant maintenance, set up, installation and assembly. These jobs are found in medical, electronics, agriculture, biotechnology and automotive industries.

Selected from 274 grant applications, the South Central College and Pine Technical College grants are among 68 grants awarded to community colleges and community-based institutions for the labor department’s community-based job training grants initiative.