The Iron Range Engineering (IRE) Bell program strives to educate engineering students by providing the synergistic qualities of technical learning coupled with work on authentic projects with industry partners. In addition to the development of new engineers, Iron Range Engineering looks to benefit the local, northern Minnesota, community and industries while addressing the needs of community college graduates and transfer students across the nation.
In the heart of Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range, a new model for engineering education began delivery in August 2019. Extending the Iron Range Engineering (IRE) model of project-based-learning program where students work closely with industry on design projects throughout their 3rd and 4th years, the Bell program provides a high-quality education where students have extensive industry work experiences supporting their learning. The goal of this approach is to produce graduates with significant integrated technical and professional knowledge and competencies. Students earn our Bachelor of Science in Engineering with a major of Integrated Engineering and potential degree focus areas in a wide variety of engineering disciplines.
Bell students are upper-division engineering students who are enrolled at Minnesota State University, Mankato and are typically graduates of community colleges ranging from the states of Virginia and New York, to Oklahoma and Nebraska, to Colorado and California. We welcome students from all areas and work with community colleges to develop articulation agreements and to augment lower-division engineering pre-requisite course work through our partnership with Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, MN.
The IRE Bell model begins with an intensive Bell Academy experience during the first semester. Students combine technical and design learning with professional skills that emphasize job seeking in order to secure industry placements for their remaining four semesters. These industry placements can happen in any location in the world, as long as students are gaining engineering design experience. Currently, Bell students are working in 8 different states. While on-the-job, Bell student engineers spend about 40 hours per week doing the engineering design and technical work through actual practice and about 12 hours per week in focused technical learning and reflection on their professional and design learning.