The Center fulfills our vision through three main avenues: Engaging Industry, Enhancing Education, and Inspiring Students. By doing this we are able to provide real-world information and experience which would be virtually impossible without industry support, and the improved education inspires students to pursue and continue in their career. The result is a better graduate that is more prepared for entering the profession.

Engaging Industry

With our current workforce challenges, employers that engage college students during the course of their studies – and promote curriculum that will make employees more productive on day one – will have a distinct advantage.

Executive Board of Industry Veterans

Our executive board consists of 26 individuals representing all six of the transportation workforce sectors. These representatives are from employer partners, industry/trade associations, college leadership, secondary leadership, Minnesota Department of Education, teacher associations, workforce and labor organizations, and teacher leaders.

Partnerships with Employers

All employers can benefit from a partnership with local schools and colleges. For some employers, partnering with education is a first-time experience but others have existing programs, support, relationships, and partnerships with schools. In the long run, we know that the local connection and partnership is the most sustainable method for employers and educators.

The TCOE meets with employers and associations to learn about what they are doing. We consult about ways to improve, create sustainability, increase effectiveness, and move forward. Here are just some of the ways we consult with our employers:

  • Work-based learning
  • Advisory committees
  • Outreach events
  • Mock interviews
  • Vehicle and equipment partnering
  • Classroom visits and presentations
  • Summer camps
  • Virtual industry tours
  • Curriculum Resources & Service Information Access
  • OE Programs
  • Scholarships

enhancing education

The Center is helping to enhance education at every level – from K-12 through postsecondary and beyond.

Partnering and Consultation

In order to really impact the transportation career pathways/pipeline, we have to ensure that communications exist on all levels and that the pathways to a career are filled with excellence. We partner with all educators whether it is middle school, high school, technical/community college, university, or teacher associations. Here are just some of the ways we partner with education:

  • Helping engage industry
  • Building excellence in programs and instruction
  • Finding new opportunities
  • Writing grants
  • Communicating with industry, partners, and prospective students
  • Developing new programs
  • Attaining program accreditation
  • Going to career fairs, expos, and other events
  • Creating events for schools with our Career Exploration Trailer

Sector Meetings

Often the best ideas about ways to reach students, engage industry, implement teaching strategies, and run programs come from meeting with our peers. We learn best when we surround ourselves with others who want excellence. Minnesota has hundreds of transportation programs at the secondary and post-secondary levels. While we try to get everyone together in-person at least once per year, staying up to date, informed, and having an opportunity to meet with peers across our vast state requires a different approach.

The TCOE hosts online sector meetings on a regular basis to help educators connect with each other. Whether it is an open forum or sector-specific topics, educators are able to have that rich conversation and feel connected to their peers without sacrificing time driving across the state.

Program Accreditation

One of the most challenging things a program can do is to strive for excellence, and it is the one thing that educators must continue to pursue. One of the indicators of an excellent program is having an accredited program. Programs are often challenged to obtain or maintain program accreditation which comes with a variety of challenges ranging from small departments, time, financial resources, subject matter expertise, institutional experience with accreditation, and more

At the TCOE we can provide resources and connections for campuses who would like to partner with us on their program accreditation or reaccreditation. Our level and type of partnership can vary significantly and is customized to each situation. Here are some of the ways we partner with schools going through the accreditation process:.

  • Consulting
  • Bringing industry to the table
  • Explaining program standard details
  • Being a subject matter expert or connecting to one
  • Communicating with the national accrediting agency
  • Championing the effort in the local community
  • Helping find financial resources
  • Helping an advisory committee understand the process
  • Communicating with administration
  • Showcasing best practices from other schools
  • Conducting a mock evaluator walkthrough

Professional Development Opportunities

One of the most important things to do as a technical teacher is staying up-to-date. Professional development isn’t just for yourself, it’s for the students, the employers, and the program. It’s also another indicator of program excellence and ensuring that your teaching techniques, pedagogy, and program are the best they can be. Maintaining professionalism, knowledge of new technologies, and networking is what keeps teachers on the leading edge. Great students come out of programs with great teachers.

We support professional development by partnering with state and national associations, NSF grants, other neighboring states, and industry partners. Here are just some of our partnerships that result in great professional development for teachers:

  • Midwest Teachers of Transportation and Industrial Areas (MTTIA)
  • ASE Education Foundation
  • AED Education Foundation
  • EETC Education Foundation
  • CTE Works!
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics

New Teacher Mentoring

New Teacher Mentoring is designed for teachers or instructors with less than three years of experience.  The TCOE has numerous resources related to best teaching practices designed to improve the skill level and teaching quality of someone new to the teaching profession.  Resources range from vetted websites, to books, full-day training sessions, and a small collection of mentors able to help throughout the year if needed.  We also have resources to help with curriculum development for many of the different sectors of transportation.

Train-The-Trainer Workshops

One of our newest programs, in collaboration with other Centers of Excellence, are the Train-The-Trainer Workshops. These workshops focus on helping teachers gain comfort and knowledge in the trades and STEM related subjects through hands-on experiences and professional relationship building.  Utilizing the tremendous talent and resources of our Minnesota State instructors and on-campus facilities across the state, we hope to offer a vast variety of opportunities not too far from home!  Subject areas related to: Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Engineering, Energy, Healthcare, and Transportation.

Transportation CORE Curriculum

We created six career exploration modules designed by subject matter experts to give high school students basic exposure to the six sectors of transportation.

This includes:

  • Automotive
  • Aviation
  • Collision Repair/Auto Body
  • Diesel
  • Powersports
  • Truck Driving

There are also components on tool use and safety.  

Each sector is designed to be at least 2 weeks in length and can be taught as stand-alone options or can be combined into a quarter-long offering in a high school.

Minnesota High Schools can gain access to this free curriculum on Teams by filling out a simple form.

Educator Resources

Our Online Learning Resource Center (OLRC) is a collection of resources that are curated or developed by the TCOE for middle school, high school, and college-level educators. These resources are vetted by our staff and updated frequently. We have resources for work-based learning, career exploration, teacher mentoring, curriculum, new technologies, and more!

ISA-TOPE National Science Foundation Grant

We were awarded a National Science Foundation Project grant on April 15, 2021 called ISA-TOPE, which stands for Innovative, Semi-Autonomous Trucks and Off-highway Powered Equipment. This grant addresses this need for qualified technicians. This will be accomplished through three areas: outreach, professional development and curriculum, and by providing advanced technology.

inspiring students

The Center offers many opportunities for students to learn applied skills in multiple career fields while getting a chance to see how these skills are employed in the real world.

Career Exploration Trailer

The Career Exploration Trailer provides an opportunity for students to explore and experience transportation-related careers.  Activities range from flight and semi-truck simulators to the use of standard shop tools, to interactive engine component identification. Most importantly, these experiences are supported by knowledgeable facilitators who can share firsthand industry knowledge and pathway information. Introducing young audiences to careers in transportation is important. When it comes to career exploration –giving youth the appropriate information, allowing their minds to openly accept the great possibilities of a career, and helping them make unbiased decisions is very challenging in today’s society and educational environment.

For transportation careers, this is even more challenging to communicate because the career and technology are changing so fast. Today’s and tomorrow’s careers are nothing at all like the stereotypes of yesterday’s transportation careers. After meeting with a forward-thinking group of educators and employers, designing hands-on experiences and goal-based activities showcasing the high technology in the industry was the solution. The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence partnered with education and industry partners to create the Transportation Career Exploration Trailer.  

Career Fairs & Outreach Events

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence assists colleges, high schools, chambers of commerce, children museums, and others in their career fair, career exploration, career information, and more.

Nitro-X Youth Summer Camps

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence listened to education and industry partners’ hopes for the future of our workforce. Together we designed and implemented Nitro-X youth summer camps. The first camp started in 2015 and today we have grown to eight camps in Minnesota.  With meaningful opportunities to gain their technical knowledge, and explore transportation-related college and career pathways, Nitro-X has gained national recognition as a model program for youth in transportation.

Teach for a Day

Our Teach for a Day Program allows us to come to you (now virtual) and share information about career pathways in transportation with your students. Topics include:

  • A day in the life of a college student in transportation
  • Tuition costs and scholarship opportunities
  • Job market growth and salaries
  • Pathways available in various sectors
  • Local college and industry partners

Virtual Industry Tours

Utilizing industry partnerships, we bring field trips to the classroom. These virtual industry tours with the included thought-provoking assignment, and live Q&A, give students an in-depth look at a variety of transportation-related industries. Need more flexibility?  Each component not only can be used exclusively, but in any instructional delivery scenarios – in-person, hybrid, or distance. If you are interested in sponsoring a virtual tour, we would love to hear from you!

Can I Borrow That? Program

The Can I Borrow That? program was created to enhance education during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a time where we can’t provide outreach like we used to, this program allows educators across the state of Minnesota to borrow  equipment, tools, and simulators  that they normally wouldn’t have access to.

Marketing & Promotional Materials

Properly communicating the amazing career opportunities to prospective students in today’s extremely information rich world is a challenge. The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence strategically partners with industry and educators to develop, collect, and distribute materials and information to our education partners as a tool in helping them communicate to their prospective students.

Annual Highlights