February 28, 2019

Though the temperatures fell deep into the negatives on the afternoon of January 29, Chancellor Devinder Malhotra, system office staff, presidents, students, trustees, faculty, staff, community members, legislators and other government officials across the state braved the cold for an opportunity to highlight and experience the exciting developments in higher education. 

Minnesota State Day was held in the State Capitol Rotunda and featured all of Minnesota State’s 30 state colleges and seven state universities that serve approximately 375,000 students.

The Capitol Rotunda displayed posters detailing inspiring student success stories from each of the 37 Minnesota State institutions, while banners outlined their regional economic impact. Attendees were also treated to a performance from the Winona State University Choir on the second floor.

Of all the institutions statewide, eight were selected to showcase one of their programs. Century College was selected to showcase their Additive and Digital Manufacturing & new Biofabrication program. Century College exhibited an array of advanced technology, including a Cellink 3D/4D Bioprinter, 3D printer, and model airplane turbine.

The Future of Education

Minnesota State Day gave guests a look into the future of education. Each of the eight displays featured revolutionary technology and advancements bound to make a huge impact in their respective industries.

The exhibits were interesting, interactive, and often fun. Minnesota State University in Mankato invited guests to try out their augmented reality headset, an advanced manufacturing technology that has just recently emerged. Lake Superior College hosted a virtual welding station that seemed more like an arcade game than a training tool.

Though STEM was clearly a point of emphasis, the exhibits encompassed a range of different fields. Institutions showcased programs including Exercise Science, Musical Instrument Repair, Nursing, and Applied Psychology/Human Services.

Big Opportunities Ahead

At Century College’s booth, students Thien Pham and Cody Sandberg were on hand to answer questions. Pham is a part of the Additive and Digital Manufacturing program, while Sandberg will be participating in the new Biofabrication Certificate program. The program was established in conjunction with the University of Minnesota as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The program will begin its first semester next fall. Sandberg, who is also studying nursing, will be one of its first students. He was eager to show guests Century College’s brand new bioprinter, sold to Century College by Cellink at a discounted rate, which uses human cells to create living tissue.

With the biofabrication industry poised to boom, Sandberg is excited for the opportunity to get an early jump on this emerging job market.

“It can only get better from here,” said Sandberg. “There’s a lot of people doing research right now, but there are very few technicians that can actually operate the machines. This program will help fill that need.”

Meanwhile, Pham has already landed a job at 3M even before graduating. He creates prototypes for the company using a large scale 3D printer that is big enough, in theory, to print furniture.

“Century College has a great reputation in the manufacturing industry,” said Pham. “I actually heard about the job because 3M emailed the director of ADM [Randy Jasken] asking if they had anybody who could work for them.”

Looking Even Further into the Future

Minnesota State Day was held, in part, to make a strong case for their Fiscal Year 2020 – 2021 budget request. The request was focused not only on serving students at Minnesota State. It was also focused on building capacity for innovation.

Minnesota State colleges and universities are clearly keeping pace with the latest developments in the workforce. But of course, with technology evolving as rapidly as it has been, complacency isn’t an option. Staying ahead of the curve is absolutely vital.

“This was a great day for Minnesota State colleges and universities,” said Century College President Angelia Millender. “I believe there are even better days ahead. Century College and its partnered institutions will continue to transform businesses, the economy, and the lives of its students.”