mission statement

The Minnesota Transportation Center of Excellence will collectively address the issues in transportation career pathways/talent pipelines. We will connect industry and education to collaboratively find, communicate, and create opportunities that result in excellence in education to meet the ever changing workforce needs of the transportation industry.

Position statement

The Minnesota Transportation Center of Excellence is a network of colleges, high schools, industry, and centers that prepares students for rewarding careers and supplies the transportation industry with a qualified workforce through collaboration between industry and education, resulting in excellence in state-of-the-art training.

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:

  • Developing communication platforms
  • Helping build high-quality training programs
  • Sharing and implementing best practices
  • Collecting, centralizing, and sharing data with decision makers
  • Embarking on new endeavors and innovative approaches
  • Providing professional develop opportunities
  • Connecting employers, educators, and the future workforce together

about tcoe staff


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.

stephanie zojonc, Director of Program Excellence

Stephanie earned her Bachelor of Science in Teaching and a Master of Science in Biology Education with an emphasis in experiential learning from Minnesota State University,Mankato. She is a licensed 5-12 science teacher, was a faculty member in the Department of Biology from at Minnesota State University, Mankato and most recently the STEM Outreach Director for the Minnesota Center for Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence from 2015-2017. She loves spending time with her family, riding her motorcycle, gardening and traveling with her husband Jake.

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. 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.


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