St. Cloud State University’s Department of Environmental and Technological Studies is the only program in Minnesota preparing future career and technical education (CTE) teachers.
“There is a lack of courses since it is not normally required in schools. There is also a shortage of teachers for the programs. We are the only program preparing the teachers in Minnesota and we only graduate four to eight a year,” said Kurt Helgeson, chair of the department. “There are 25-35 openings each year. We are doing other things to support schools to recruit teachers to fill the positions.”
To put that in perspective, there are approximately 12.5 million high school and college students enrolled in CTE nationwide, but Minnesota (thanks to St. Cloud State) is only producing up to eight new educators for these programs each year.
The Department of Environmental and Technological Studies prepares students to “define, assess and solve our society’s environmental and technological problems.” Its bachelor’s degree in technology education specifically prepares students to teach CTE courses, and is the only program in the state with accreditation by the Council on Technology Teacher Education and the International Technology Education Association.
The department’s faculty actively work with Project Lead the Way, a national effort to build STEM skills and literacy. In fact, Helgeson is the co-affiliate director of Minnesota Project Lead the Way. Under this effort, high school students can earn college credit for taking STEM-related courses at St. Cloud State.
The department’s CTE licensure program can be completed in just two semesters, offering courses in the “foundations of technology education” and “lab safety and maintenance in CTE.”
Students enrolled in one of the department’s programs can avail themselves of the “Husky Make It Space,” an on-campus manufacturing space for students to get hands-on experience of their classroom lessons.
The space, among others things, includes:
- A CAD/CAM and Environmental Modeling Center that incorporates workstations with the latest CAD, CAM, CIM and environmental modeling software.
- A construction center that provides practical and experimental approaches to residential and commercial construction and an introduction to advanced woodworking.
- A manufacturing center equipped with machine and thermal technologies that includes spaces for product design, casting, and machining.
Jean Rakun, president of the Minnesota Association for Career and Technical Education, said the “lack of courses in CTE has created a lack of students with a passion for industrial tech careers and caused a shortage of prepared workers in fields related to industrial tech classes.”
That shortage, however, starts with a lack of CTE-trained teachers, which schools like St. Cloud State University and the University of Wisconsin at Stout are working to address.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “St. Cloud State University” by Jeff Wood. CC BY 3.0.