Thanks to the state Legislature and business backers, two career education programs at Central Lakes College (CLC) by the end of 2012 will be able to offer students training equipment to prepare them for the latest industry practices and technologies.
The financial support making it possible is part of an infusion of more than $1.2 million driven by a state appropriation and private funding.
The Legislative Leveraged Equipment Fund from the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton plus matching funds from businesses will enable CLC to obtain two major pieces of excavation equipment valued at $151,250. A loader and an excavator will be purchased for use by students in two career education programs at Staples: Heavy Equipment Operations and Maintenance and Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology.
CLC is one of 15 institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) selected from 63 applications seeking $3.7 million worth of equipment. A culling of applications reduced the state allotment to $457,000.
The money was awarded to 12 colleges and three universities for the purchase of 24 pieces of equipment with values ranging from under $9,000 to over $365,000.
Fifty-three businesses, four vendors and six foundations contributed $731,000 to match what lawmakers granted.
“CLC is blessed with strong industry support for many of its career and technical programs,” said Dr. Larry A. Lundblad, college president. “The monetary match for equipment was made possible from the proceeds from the annual golf tournament that is sponsored by Frattalone Companies and supported by numerous industry partners.
“Over $240,000 has been raised for the program since the tournaments began 14 years ago. The program would have difficulty sustaining the program at current levels without this support.”
Frattalone Companies, Inc., St. Paul, and dozens of other businesses contribute to benefit students in heavy equipment training. Alumnus Frank Frattalone, company founder, is a 1969 graduate. He said: “Frattalone Companies values the well-prepared graduates we get from CLC. The intent of the golf tournament is to support the equipment and operating needs of the program and its students. The purchase of this newer loader and excavator will definitely fit that intent.”
Instructor John Maleski said he is shopping for two late-model Caterpillar products – a wheel loader and a hydraulic excavator.
Maleski said that while industry understands that having brand new equipment is often cost-prohibitive for a college program, there is an expectation that students at least do some of their work on relatively new technology in order to be competitive once they graduate.
“By embedding this new equipment in our Introduction to Operations and Excavation I, II and III courses all Heavy Equipment Operations and Maintenance students should be able to use at least some of their time in these newer pieces,” Maleski said.
The two units are estimated to cost about the same, $70,000 to $80,000. They are new enough that they will have newer generation electrical controls and electronic and hydraulic shifting systems that match current standards. They are also new enough that they can be easily retrofitted with global positioning systems (GPS) technology in the near future.
An estimated 140 to 150 students per year will make use of the equipment.
“The new equipment will help us to deliver the best training in high-demand fields such as machine technology, engineering, automotive technology, healthcare, information technology and the sciences,” said MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone in a news release.
“This modest effort was extremely successful,” Rosenstone said. “It is a clear demonstration of both the need and strong support for co-funding the purchase of equipment necessary to provide students with the training required to meet Minnesota’s workforce needs. This outcome is helping us to address one issue that has been clearly expressed by business and community representatives – that Minnesota employers need graduates with more experience that mirrors the latest industry practices and technologies.”