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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch
  • SEPS students receive real life factory and assembly training

  • Sleepy Eye Public School seventh and eighth grade students are getting real life factory and assembly training in their science class.
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  • Sleepy Eye Public School seventh and eighth grade students are getting real life factory and assembly training in their science class.
    School board member and 3M MecLab trainer, Bryan Sellner, is working with students on the basics of industrial automation.
    The program was created by 3M and financed through a $100,000 grant from the 3M Foundation to interest kids in the skilled trade of mechatronics.
    "Applied STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is not shop class," said Scott Cooper, plant engineering manager at the 3M New Ulm plant. "I want to emphasize that STEM education includes not only studies in each of the independent STEM subjects, but also opportunities to integrate and apply STEM learning in skilled trades like mechatronics.
    MecLab includes instructions on how to connect stations to a computer and write simple programs. Students learn the fundamentals of pneumatics, electrical engineering, electrical actuators, sensors and control technology.
    Sellner developed the curriculum and teaches students how to use the MecLab trainers that will eventually be moved from school to school as more trainers and schools get involved in this program.
    According to Cooper, all 3M factories in Minnesota have trouble hiring skilled workers in mechatronics.
    "The students are not taught the understanding or background of mechatronics in high school so they don't realize that many schools including Alexandria Technical and Community College, South Central College in Mankato, Minnesota West in Granite Falls and Ridgewater College in Hutchinson offer programs in this area," he said, adding that 3M plans to expand the program into New Ulm and other area schools as grant funding permits. There is no cost to the district to offer this program.

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