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Bemidji State's 360 program gets big grant

Bemidji State University's 360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence has been awarded a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Regional Center Award for nearly $3 million over four years.

The grant, which totals $2,948,511 and begins on Friday, June 15, will allow the center to pursue its vision of a 21st-century education system that prepares individuals for rewarding careers in manufacturing and which meets the needs of the region's manufacturing employers. The award will help the center pursue its goal of increasing the quantity, quality and diversity of manufacturing technicians.

"The timing of this award couldn't be better," said Karen White, director of the Center of Excellence. "We just heard from manufacturers across the state that advanced manufacturing businesses need more and better technicians if they are going to capitalize on their opportunities to grow.

"This award will allow 360° to focus on tackling these issues head on and provide the technicians the industry needs. We are thrilled to receive this award; it will strengthen our relationships with the manufacturing industry and with two-year technical colleges across northern Minnesota."

The grant outlines three objectives for the center in the next four years including enhancing educational pipelines that will prepare students for rigorous manufacturing technician-level programs and entice them to pursue manufacturing careers, refining industry-driven curricula that is relevant to today's manufacturing industry while being forward-looking and anticipating its future needs and assessing student learning with both an internal and external focus -- an internal focus to drive ongoing program improvement, and an external focus to provide accountability for all stakeholders and evidence of student achievement.