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“The college is constantly working with community businesses to find out what the needs are,” Wall said. The schools take those current needs and predictions of future needs into account when planning curricula. “The farther out we can plan out, the more effective [they are.]”
The community college is experiencing a shift as students are demanding more from the college than broad, transfer-focused education, Salo said. “Students are saying, ‘What can I do after two years?’ ” The school — which recently added a visual arts center and renovated a music building — is trying to create a balance between technical training and liberal arts education, Salo said. “It’s great to have a student who can wear many hats, but when you need an expert, where can you find them?” Salo said.
The Biomedical Technology department, for example, is taking strides toward producing career-ready graduates. It is working on a concept for a class called “Technical Pivot” where students would work on practical projects and learn industry-applicable skills, like how to read a blueprint, Salo said.
“I don’t know that we have a special strategy [for further improvement], but we will continue to do what we have always done,” Nevinski said. That includes continuing the Economic Gardening program, which each year takes on companies with midrange sales and provides them with 40 hours of service tailored to their needs with the goal of taking them to the next level, he said.
Sarah Barchus is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.