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 center

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

Meet our team

Chris Hadfield

Executive 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 the Confidence Learning Center (Camp Confidence) as the Program Coordinator and they have 2 sons, Evan and Caleb.

Carl Borleis

Director of Program Excellence

Carl has well over a decade each of transportation and education-related experience.  His transportation experience ranges from driving – flatbed, dry van, refrigerated, tow truck, school bus, straight truck, motor coach, and doubles – to being a Senior Logistics Manager with a Fortune 500 company, and business ownership.  His education experience includes teaching middle and high school Alternative Education, Adult Basic Education, and being a Truck Driving instructor in both the private and public sector where he has helped approximately 1,200 people earn their CDL. He also has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education, with a minor in Middle Level Science from Bemidji State University.

When he is not working for the Minn. State Transportation Center of Excellence, Carl enjoys being actively involved in his local church, spending time with his wife, Katie, traveling, boating, and fishing.  He is the proud parent of two boys, CJ and Noah, who have both graduated from transportation-related Technical College programs and are both employed in their respective field of interest.


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 working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Project Management. Before coming to work for the Minnesota State TCOE she worked as the Nano-Infusion Coordinator for Nano-Link, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program. In her spare time she loves hiking, spending time with family, and being creative.

Michaela Holman-Schmidt

Administrative Assistant

Michaela earned her Accounting Clerk Diploma at Dakota County Technical College in 2019. Before joining the Minnesota State TCOE team, she worked with the TRIO Program at Dakota County Technical College helping students who are either from low income households, are a first-generation student, or who have a disability. In her spare time, she loves singing, reading, cooking, and fishing.

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