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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Since its founding in 2009, Iron Range Engineering has been on the leading edge of innovative education through project-based learning.

2011 Minnesota Cup

The Minnesota Cup is an annual, statewide competition that seeks out aspiring entrepreneurs and their breakthrough ideas.  Iron Range Engineering students have made three submissions based on their project based school-work.  Of the three submissions in 2011, one advanced to the semi-finalists (Power-Trowel) and one was the student division winner (Tes-Gen).

The Power-Trowel Solution Applicator was a team of six students (Austin Mekash, Tyler Bartek, Alex Learmont, Erin Lamke, Cory Moran and Deric Phillips) who developed a device that allowed a power trowel operator rather than a bystander to apply a chemical solution that slows the rate at which concrete dries.

The Tes-Gen team (Eric Schaupp and Matt Hudson) developed a new type of portable and lightweight generator that can run on a variety of fuel sources.

2010 Excellence in Curriculum Programming Award

Northeast Higher Education District and Minnesota State University, Mankato were honored for the Iron Range Engineering program that enables students from rural northeastern Minnesota to earn bachelor's degrees without leaving the Iron Range.

2011 Board of Minnesota State Trustees Award for "Top Innovators"

Northeast Higher Education District was honored for the Iron Range engineering model of engineering education. Beginning in January 2010, the Northeast Higher Education District, which is a consortium of five colleges in northern Minnesota, began offering a project-based learning program in which third- and fourth-year engineering students work closely with industry on engineering projects. The goal is to produce graduates with highly integrated technical and professional knowledge and competencies and to promote economic development for the region. Enrolled as Minnesota State University, Mankato students, many of them complete their first two years at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids and then do their upper-level courses at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College. Students can earn Bachelor of Science degrees in engineering with emphases traditionally known as mechanical and electrical engineering. The program also encourages students to transform their project ideas into start-up enterprises that benefit the region.