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Keeping you in touch with Southeast Technical

SE-Tech approved for fiber optics installer training

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Fiber OpticsMinnesota State College – Southeast Technical, an Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) member, recently received ETA approval to offer a Fiber Optics for Installers course. Through this training, students gain the instructional hours required to take the ETA Fiber Optics Installer Certification exam. Southeast Technical is one of only two institutions in Minnesota approved by ETA to offer this training.

Fiber Optics for Installers is taught by Southeast Technical instructor Mike Wadewitz, who is also certified to teach and administer the ETA certification exam. Wadewitz has extensive industry experience, has attended Corning-led training and is a member of Corning's Fiber IQ program. Individuals interested in taking this course for college credit should contact Wadewitz at mwadewitz@southeastmn.edu; businesses interested in providing this training to employees on a non-credit basis should contact Jennifer Olson, business relations director, at jolson@southeastmn.edu.

For Prieur, NASA scholars program piques 'curiosity'

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Stacey Prieur

Stacey Prieur
Southeast Technical graduate Stacey Prieur and NASA scholars program teammates discuss details of their Mars rover project.

While NASA’s Curiosity rover was sailing through space on its way to Mars, Southeast Technical student Stacey Prieur was making her way to California for the learning experience of a lifetime: an opportunity to study with NASA engineers and gain hands-on experience with a prestigious organization. Like Curiosity’s journey to the red planet, Stacey’s path to NASA was at times bumpy, uncertain and arduous, but the destination was worth the wait.

Finding the right path

Stacey came to Southeast Technical after trying her hand at simultaneously attending a four-year college and working full-time. At that point in her life, the workload was too much, and since she found her job helping developmentally disabled children to be personally rewarding, she put school on hold.

When it was time to revisit her education, choosing Southeast Technical was an easy decision. “I knew that if I attended Southeast Tech, I could transfer to a Minnesota school with no problems. I knew I was going to build some amazing relationships with people who are going to be networking possibilities in the future.”

Making connections, getting involved

For Stacey, who chose to major in Individualized Studies and focus on math-intensive classes, math instructor Alice Zimmer was an instant connection. When Stacey was selected to be president of the college’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society chapter, she also developed a positive relationship with PTK advisor and history instructor Chris Stout and credits him for helping her find direction.

Those relationships came into play for Stacey in an unexpected way this past winter. While browsing the PTK website for programming ideas to pass along to other members, something else caught Stacey’s attention.

“‘NASA opportunities’ is what the headline said, and I was like ‘Okay!’” Stacey recalls when she first learned about NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. “I saw that the deadline for the program was in six days. I emailed Alice for a recommendation letter and she was like, ‘Sure, no problem. It’s already done!’”

A mission to Mars

After being accepted into the program, Stacey joined community college students from across the country at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena this May. In a team competition format, students embarked on a mission not unlike the one NASA engineers recently tackled: send an unmanned vehicle—just like the Curiosity rover—to Mars. After several rounds of trial and error and helpful encouragement from their cooperating NASA engineer, Stacey’s team took top honors for their well-planned mission.

As project manager, Stacey’s math expertise made a big impact on her team’s success. “I was in charge of the budget and keeping track of our deadlines. It was a three-day experience, but for NASA, the same project would take three years,” Stacey explains. “I had to learn everything, not just about Mars, but everything. I had to learn how to budget $12 million. I also had to find funding because there’s not enough in our budget to do something like that in two years, three years or even five years.”

What’s next?

Stacey is excited to stay in touch with her teammates via Facebook, and having graduated with her Individualized Studies degree this May, she now has her sights set on transferring to either Winona State University or Columbia to earn her four-year degree.

As she plots out the next chapter in her life, Stacey has a pretty specific goal in mind: returning to NASA. “NASA has been my first choice since May, since I stepped foot onto their facility. I’m sending them my resume in hopes of getting an internship, fellowship, anything to stay in touch.” 

SE-Tech welding program receives state funding award

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Welding AwardOne of Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical’s most in-demand programs, welding technology, will be able to accept 20 percent more students on an annual basis starting fall 2013 with the help of a recent state funding award.

Through the Legislative Leveraged Equipment Funds initiative, Southeast Technical will receive $12,000 in state funds that, along with a match from the Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical Foundation and an in-kind contribution from Mississippi Welders Supply, will purchase $28,000 worth of welding equipment and associated tools. As the welding technology program plans to relocate from Southeast Technical’s airport campus to a larger space on the college’s main Winona campus this spring, the new equipment and tools will allow the program to expand from 20 welding booths to 24, thereby allowing the program to accommodate more students.

“This initiative hits all the right notes. It’s state and local, public and private, education and industry, with all partners responding to each other and working together for the benefit of our students. The Legislature, Gov. Dayton and participating businesses deserve our thanks,” said Southeast Technical President Jim Johnson.

According to Southeast Technical’s industry partners, skilled welders are consistently in high-demand. With increased instruction space that will allow for more welding program graduates, the college aims to close this skills gap, which is what attracted Mississippi Welders Supply to participate in the initiative.

“We know that Southeast Technical’s welding students are our future,” said Mississippi Welders Supply store manager Paul Hengel. “Who knows when the next graduate will turn into the next business owner?  We’ve always been involved in education and want to support students in the same way we support our customers.”

Passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton this May, the Legislative Leveraged Equipment Funds initiative is a one-time appropriation of $457,000 to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) for the “leveraged” acquisition of equipment for instructional programs that produce graduates with skills in high-demand occupations. Southeast Technical is one of 15 MnSCU institutions to receive an award.