mission statement

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence drives workforce innovation through education and industry collaboration – and provides thought leadership on workforce development in the transportation industry.

Vision statement

Engaging industry. Enhancing education. Inspiring students.

our core values

These principles guide our work and define our mission.

  • Partnerships
    We believe industry and education partnerships result in a dependable, qualified, and skilled workforce.
  • Program Excellence
    We believe that program excellence is the driving force that yields student success and builds partnerships.
  • Pathways
    We believe that completing guided learning pathways result in exceptional career and college readiness.
  • Outreach
    We believe an intentional and partnered approach to outreach yields meaningful results.
  • Advocacy
    We believe that educational opportunities in transportation should be available to all students.
  • Diversity
    We appreciate and respect our differences.
  • Equity
    We believe in policies and practices that offer all people a genuine opportunity to thrive.
  • Inclusion
    We believe in educational environments where everyone feels valued and respected.
  • Professionalism
    We believe professionalism is an integral part of everything we do.

About the TCOe

Founded in 2013, the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence is focused on developing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the current and future needs for high-demand, high-paying, high-growth, high-tech careers in Minnesota’s transportation industries. In an effort to meet those current and future workforce needs, the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence promotes and aligns transportation industry career and employment opportunities by:

  • Promoting collaborative communication
  • Helping build high-quality training programs
  • Sharing and promoting best practices
  • Collecting, centralizing, and sharing data
  • Sparking new endeavors and innovative approaches
  • Providing professional development opportunities
  • Connecting employers, educators, and the future workforce

about tcoe staff

Want to learn more about our staff? Check out our recent blog post.


Chris hadfield, director

Chris has more than a decade of experience as an Automotive Technology instructor at both a tech college and a high school, as well as administrative experience as a dean at Central Lakes College. Chris is master and advanced level ASE certified. Before teaching he worked as an automotive technician for a GM dealership, an independent, a retail store, and he owned his own business. Chris has written 7 automotive textbooks and continues to consult.

He has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Automotive Engineering Technology, with a minor in Manufacturing Engineering Technology from Minnesota State University Mankato and he has a Master’s of Education degree in Community College Teaching and Learning from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

In his spare time, Chris loves spending time with his family traveling, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, coaching baseball, and leading the local Boy Scouts den. Chris’s wife Amynda works for Community Education in the Brainerd School District as the Adults with Disabilities (INSIGHT) Program Coordinator and they have 2 sons, Evan and Caleb.

Steve hoemberg, Director of Outreach

Steve earned a Bachelor’s degree in K-12 Vocal Music Education and Vocal Performance from Saint John’s University (MN) in 2001.  In 2016, after a very successful career as a public school teacher, he quite literally shifted to a career in the transportation industry.  In industry, he had a wide range of responsibilities, including time as a heavy equipment maintenance instructor at Central Lakes College, job-site foreman, heavy equipment operator, oversize/overweight truck driver, and mechanic.  He credits his unique background and experiences for giving him a passionate and insightful perspective on outreach.  When not working for the Minnesota State TCOE, he serves as the Artistic Director of the Staples Area Men’s Chorus, and is the proud father of two daughters – Molly and Meredith.

Cassidy jelen, Project Coordinator

Cassidy earned her Associates of Applied Science in Graphic Design at Dakota County Technical College in 2017 and is now pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Project Management. Before coming to work for the Minnesota State TCOE she was the Nano-Infusion Coordinator for Nano-Link, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program. In her spare time she loves spending time outdoors, drinking tea, and being creative.