Below is a list of presentations you can expect to see at the conference. We have presentations in several high-demand areas such as Employability Skills, Business and Industry Engagement, Curriculum, and several trade skill areas.

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NOTE: presentations may change without notice.

Name: Jeff Thorstad

Presentation Title: Working with industry partners to develop Apprenticeship pathways

Description: How to explain the benefits of apprenticeships to industry partners and how to work together to develop a balanced approach to training future workers.

Name: Jay Gerdin

Presentation Title: Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) from Short Circuit to Spray and Pulse Transfer

Description: This presentation describes the differences in GMAW weld transfer modes. Discussion will include basic process setup, how different shielding gas effects the weld mode, and how Pulse welding settings effect welds.

Name: Peggy Andrews

Presentation Title: Manufacturing Teams

Description: The ability to collaborate in diverse teams is a vital skill across all functions and industries.  Teaching students frameworks and skills to help them be successful in team settings will make them more employable and can also add to interest and engagement in the classroom. This session will review data on the increasing need/desire for teamwork skills in manufacturing organizations, discuss challenges with teaching teaming skills, and present ideas for integrating content and practice across your curriculum.

Name: Dan McGee & Devon Judge

Presentation Title: How additive manufacturing translates from learning to industry

Description: Dan and Devon will provide an overview of 3D printing technologies, applications for 3D printing in Industry and Education, and Additive Manufacturing certification.

Name: Kuldeep Agarwal

Presentation Title: Engaging industry in teaching manufacturing/engineering management to undergraduate and graduate students

Description: This session will explore how industry projects can be integrated into the curriculum of both undergraduate and graduate students in the manufacturing/engineering management programs. Courses such as lean manufacturing, six sigma, project management, and quality control can benefit from real-world data and applications. The session will talk about case studies from these courses and student-led projects which were used in teaching basic concepts.

Name: Kevin Kieke

Presentation Title: How do we get more manufacturing mentors in the classroom?

Description: Talk about my journey of how I moved from engineering and manufacturing into the classroom and create a vision for how manufacturers and technical professionals can do the same to support and solve the technical skills gap we are all experiencing.

Name: John Hacker

Presentation Title: Launching Earn and Learn Programs

Description: This presentation will focus on guiding other manufacturers and schools to take the step in developing their own Earn and Learn programs. Over the last several years, we have focused on redeveloping the process for attracting new employees to manufacturing by developing a new perception of what manufacturing is today—a career, not just a job.

This strategy has evolved each year but has always maintained one focus – finding employees who are motivated, driven, hardworking individuals and helping them further their careers. We have established career paths within our manufacturing floor through advanced training programs and partnerships with tech colleges and the state. Individuals start in one role but have an opportunity for a career in manufacturing. We like to share our lessons learned to help support and inspire other companies to launch their pipeline strategies and school partnerships.

Training: We provide on-the-job training with peer mentors, both for new employees and cross-training to help employees learn more about the manufacturing process. Employees also attend events and seminars to continue their personal and professional growth.

Education: In partnership with technical colleges, we offer our employees free, on-site classes during the work day, to further develop their knowledge in control panel manufacturing. We provide tuition assistance making education more accessible. Encouraging employees to further their education by providing them with internship opportunities. We also talk to high school students to show how STEAM/STEM courses are applicable to careers in manufacturing.

Name: Mary Kay McVey

Presentation Title: Communicating for Different Generations

Description: As new generations enter the workforce and the more experienced generation retires, companies are faced with how to successfully attract, train, and retain new employees. But what skills do you want your new employees to have? Technical skills? Social skills? Or other skills?

This session would focus on how to interact and communicate with different generations of the workforce. Communication is key to keeping all employees happy with their jobs. Knowing how to effectively communicate with each other helps employees work together more effectively and efficiently.

Name: Tim Walker

Presentation Title: Celebrating Technical Careers Through Collaboration and Crowd Funding

Description: Students have long been advised that a college degree opens the door to a rewarding career.  Why not flip the formula and embrace a career as the pathway to a rewarding education?  With skyrocketing college costs and crushing worker shortages, many are bypassing the university track to enter the “school of hard knocks”.  Perhaps it’s time to celebrate their dreams and build a new funding formula.  We will look at some creative ideas for employers to “draft” and develop the next generation into adulthood.

Name: Mary Ann Christensen

Presentation Title: Generating excitement about Skilled Trades: How can we guide youth to find their calling?

Description: Introduction: 5 minutes “Big Ideas” who we are and what we do.

Topic 1 (10 Minutes)  Historic – Where are the Sandboxes: How did kids play excite them for real world trades?

Topic 2 (10 Minutes)  Present – Living in a padded world: What is the current playground and how does that affect tomorrow?

Topic 3 (10 Minutes) Future – Virtual Reality, a safe learning environment to build skills and confidence.

Conclusion (10 Minutes)

Questions (15 Minutes)

Name: Andrew Dahlen

Presentation Title: Flexible Workforce Training with Competency-Based Education


Name: Brian Stefanich

Presentation Title: Developing our Future Talent Through Community Partnerships

Description: This breakout presentation will give an overview of our Bemidji Career Academy program and the process to get a similar program started in other Minnesota High Schools and communities.  Our students take specified course work relating to their academies and participate in real-world experiences on site of your industry partners.  These experiences are through monthly Exploring posts and paid work internships through the Youth Skills Training / Dept. of Labor program.  Our student learners s are being mentored by our partners, gaining valuable industry exposure gaining experience, and discovering pathways that lead to a variety of careers within the industry.  Our goal is to train our students in the hopes of retaining our young talent in our community.

Name: Montez King

Presentation Title: How to Adapt CTE Training for Fast-Emerging Technologies in Manufacturing

Description: As technology continues to emerge, new occupational duties will continue to be added, and existing duties will continue to change. New manufacturing technology in the industry, for example, is emerging faster than the pace an average individual can learn and retain. Mr. King, executive director at NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills), refers to this conundrum as the “Complexity Gap.” This gap can be closed by breaking down the vastness of occupational duties into roles that employers in our communities need to meet production requirements.

How can we as educators address and meet the needs of this new paradigm? How can it help us organize, execute, and validate our curricula? Mr. King has developed a framework that he calls “Smart Training Principles” that offers a highly flexible and organized approach to imparting the knowledge necessary in today’s manufacturing environments.

Participants will come away with several “Eureka!” moments of great understanding of the issues, along with a viable solution to begin applying in our classrooms and labs.

Name: David Anderson

Presentation Title: The KonnectVR Project: Opening Educator Access to Virtual Reality

Description: The educational use of virtual reality (VR) has been increasing in recent years. Incorporating this new technology in the classroom presents various opportunities and challenges. This presentation will explore the current state of educational VR and when and why it is most useful. The presenters will share their experiences in developing open-source educational VR content to expand access to the technology.

Name: Mary Ann Christensen

Presentation Title: Engaging Both Hands and Brains: Introduction to Breadth and Depth of Careers in Skilled Trades


Name: Paul Holslin

Presentation Title: Using Extended Reality in real scenarios to help students understand lock out tag out, fall protection, confined space and fire protection. An Oculus headset will be used.

Description: There will be an Oculus headset available that the attendees can use to sample several workplace scenarios.

Name: George Chapple

Presentation Title: Analysis is the key to performance solutions.


Name: Michael Kiefer

Presentation Title: Work Ethic and Personal Responsibility- Teaching A Top Employability Skill

Description: Often overlooked in employability skills training is work ethic. Work ethic has about 15 common industry trends that can hurt a person’s employability and ability to move up in an organization. This session creates awareness of these 15 trends and also gives ideas on how any instructor can emphasize these to help their students succeed regardless of the technical topic. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development continuously surveys the workforce in Minnesota, and work ethic is continuously at the top of employers’ training needs list. Employers will hire people with strong work ethics and will sometimes hire based on that trait alone.

Name: Rob Sleezer

Presentation Title: Learning From Reflection on the Job

Description: Participants will first engage in an activity representing a typical on-the-job experience. Then they will practice the art of reflection to better frame the learning from experience. Finally, tips and tricks to support the learning of others from experiences will be discussed. This topic connects to strengthening employee performance and improving abilities to learn from experiences (including failure).