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MCTC Students Participate in SkillsUSA Minnesota Competition

Posted on: April 8th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

SkillsUSA 2014 ParticipantsEleven Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) students recently competed in the SkillsUSA Minnesota leadership and skills conference. Several students won awards for their hard work and creative projects in the fields of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) and Electrical Construction. SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations as well as health occupations.

“We’re fortunate our students were able to compete at actual industry sites this year,” said Greg Skudlarek, MCTC HVACR instructor. “Not only do they get real industry experience, it also makes the playing field more level for students coming from across the state.” The competition drew more than 800 career and technical education students who competed in more than 80 hands-on trade, technical and leadership contests. Students from 25 campuses of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and 30 high schools from across Minnesota participated in the competition in Bloomington.

MCTC students have participated in the SkillsUSA competition for several years. In addition to students from the College’s HVACR and Electrical Construction programs, competing students in past years have represented the Machine Tool Technology and Welding and Metal Fabrication programs.

The 2014 national competition will take place this July in Kansas City.

Photo: MCTC students participated in the 2014 SkillsUSA state competition in Bloomington. From left to right: Stalin Ballesteros, Electrical Construction; Andrew Oliver, Electrical Construction; Dylan Mudgett, HVACR; Dave Archambault, HVACR; Alex MacDinald, HVACR.

MCTC Open House, STEM Fair and Skills Rodeo April 8

Posted on: April 3rd, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Open House banner

You are invited to join us for three amazing events at MCTC on April 8! Activities start at 10 a.m. and wrap up at 7 p.m. There’s something for everyone at MCTC on this action-packed day!

  • Open House, 57 p.m., T Plaza and 2nd floor
  • STEM Fair, 10 a.m.7 p.m., T Plaza
  • Skills Rodeo, 57 p.m., T Skyway

Open House, 5–7 p.m., T Plaza and 2nd floor
Whether exploring what the College has to offer, choosing your major or finding clubs that spark your interest, the Open House is for you! Invite your friends and family, stay for the other exciting events and be sure to pre-register! More information and registration are available here.


STEM Fair, 10 a.m.–7 p.m., T Plaza
Celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, clubs and activities! At the STEM Fair you can:

  • Light your way through a cave lined with prehistoric cave paintings from across the world
  • Explore the Exploradome and its two distinct programs: a tour across the universe and a trip through the heart
  • Meet MCTC Engineering students and learn about their projects with a high altitude balloon, helicopters, a flight simulator and a drone
  • See MCTC student research projects previously highlighted at the state Capitol
  • Explore Biotechnology and other science demonstrations, hands-on activities and a human evolution display
  • Attend a presentation by Princeton University Molecular Biology professor Dr. Bonnie Bassler about how bacteria talk to one another
  • Watch the work of flesh-eating beetles, learn about animal decomposition and familiarize yourself with the flora of Loring Park
  • Learn more about MCTC’s STEM programs and student clubs!

Skills Rodeo, 57 p.m., T Skyway
Students from five career and technical programs will compete against one another in a chance to demonstrate their skills and vie for $2,500 in scholarships!

  • Photography: PHDI (Photography and Digital Imaging) participants will be asked to photograph portraits in front of a bright window. Students will have to balance studio lights with background light in order to create a mixed-light portrait.
  • Sound Arts: Sound Arts students will compete in a 10-minute sound frequency identification accuracy test involving music, frequency bands and filtering.
  • Barbering: Two Barbering students will compete by demonstrating their skills on live models in barber chairs, creating specific and specialized haircuts based on Minnesota State Barber Licensing exams. They will also present the logos they created for their proposed barber or hair salon business plans.
  • Culinary Arts: Culinary Arts student chefs will compete by creating the same dish which will be judged by a panel. The student with the highest score wins the scholarship, and the audience will be able to judge for themselves and eat the work of the competitors!
  • WeldingWelding students will compete at stations in the T Building welding labs to create specific challenging and sculptural welding projects within a limited time frame. A live video feed of the competition will be streamed to the T Skyway.

DJ music will be provided by students in The Sound Society student club.

Please join us for any of these amazing events April 8!

A welding instructor with a liberal arts background

Posted on: April 10th, 2013 by insidemctc No Comments
Todd Bridigum, MCTC instructor

MCTC welding instructor Todd Bridigum inspects the work of a student

What sort of academic background would you expect of a welding instructor who also teaches machine tool technology and HVAC-R, and dabbles in the art of printmaking?

Todd Bridigum has a bachelor’s degree in English.

Todd fell in love with visual arts and sculpture while he was studying for his bachelor’s degree. After completing his degree he went back to school for welding and metal fabrication. He worked in a manufacturing company for several years before joining Minneapolis Community and Technical College as a welding instructor and faculty coordinator. He also has his own studio space where he continues his studies in printmaking, drawing and metal sculpture.

Todd’s liberal arts background has come in handy—he was given an offer to write a book on welding. Since its publication, his book How to Weld has received international demand.

Read more about Todd here.

PSEO Places Student on Path to Success

Posted on: February 27th, 2013 by insidemctc No Comments

Philip Mestenhauser used his PSEO experience at MCTC to jump start his careerBy all appearances, Philip Mestenhauser was your typical high school senior. The 17-year-old attended South High School in Minneapolis and enjoyed camping, canoeing and road biking in his spare time.

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Mestenhauser, however, was no ordinary student. Since the start of his junior year, he had been enrolled in Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), a program that allows high school students to take college courses and earn high school and college/university credits in the process. Mestenhauser split his days between South High and MCTC. When he graduated from South in the spring of 2012, not only did he have a high school diploma, he had 54 college credits, all earned for free.

Outside “the high school box”

Students must meet strict academic requirements and be mature enough to handle college coursework to participate in PSEO. That sums up Mestenhauser. Not long after starting at South, he realized high school didn’t suit him. “I never fit into the high school box,” he said. “PSEO seemed to work better for me, offering additional academic challenges to my coursework.”

PSEO allowed Mestenhauser to pursue his true passion. “I’ve always liked working with my hands and MCTC has many classes to enhance my skills and interests,” he said. “I love the sense of self-sufficiency and accomplishment you get from creating something.” That’s one reason MCTC appealed to him. He initially took welding courses, earning three certifications in the process. Afterwards, he moved into the college’s Machine Tool Technology program where students learn everything from computer-integrated machining, computer-aided design and manufacturing and programming to complex mathematical calculations and advanced measurement techniques.

As the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to expand, Mestenhauser’s technical skills will be in increased demand. Case in point: before graduating, Mestenhauser already had internship with a starting salary close to $20 per hour. Not bad wages for a 17-year-old.

Next steps

The internship was only the beginning. Last fall, Mestenhauser enrolled full-time at MCTC to finish his Manufacturing Technology and Welding diplomas. From here, he plans to work for a year and apply to the University of Minnesota’s Mechanical Engineering program. His longer-term aim is to work as an engineer with a team of machinists.

Thanks in part to MCTC, he’s closer to his goal than most people his age. “MCTC has been great for me,” he said. “The classes have been challenging, and I can look back and say I’ve learned a significant amount here. I’m really looking forward to starting up again after this summer and moving forward with my education.”

Exploring MCTC’s welding and metal fabrication program with Todd Bridigum

Posted on: September 20th, 2012 by insidemctc No Comments
Todd Bridigum assists student Lizzy Hallas

Todd Bridigum assists student Lizzy Hallas

Talk to anyone in the welding field and they’ll inevitably tell you two things: first, the work itself is a unique mix of art and trade, and second, there are myriad job opportunities on the horizon.

MCTC Welding and Metal Fabrication Instructor Todd Bridigum won’t argue with either statement. After learning welding at Saint Paul College, Bridigum worked in the field for several years before joining MCTC in 2002. We asked him for his thoughts on MCTC’s program, career prospects for welders and how welding fits into the modern-day U.S. manufacturing resurgence.

How did you get into welding? 

I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Hamline University. While studying, I fell in love with visual arts and wanted to further develop my skills. Going into welding was a natural choice. I earned a welding and metal fabrication diploma and worked for several Twin Cities-area companies, building everything from spiral staircases to hospital equipment to industrial ovens. I also have a studio space where I’m able to continue my studies in prints, drawings and metal sculpture.

What do you teach at MCTC?

I’m an instructor for all of the day courses within MCTC’s welding and metal fabrication program, along with welding courses within the machine tool technology and HVAC-R programs. I also enjoy team teaching a direct metals course in MCTC’s visual arts program.

Are you seeing an increased demand for welding?

Yes. We’re seeing a revival in the U.S. and manufacturing, and welding touches all areas of the manufacturing process. There’s a significant gap in the welding field because many of today’s welders are in their mid-50s and will be retiring soon. As a result, there will be more career opportunities in the years ahead.

Welders are also needed outside of the manufacturing sector. Consider Xcel Energy. It’s an energy company, but you could also consider it a welding company because it employs hundreds of welders around the country to maintain its plants.

How has MCTC responded to the demand for welders? 

We recently added an evening welding program and we’re looking at expanding the day program to keep up with demand. Welding training will continue to grow at MCTC.

Why is the program so popular? 

Students gain tangible skills with a short investment of time.The program provides a strong foundation so students can go directly into the field or continue their studies in an engineering program at a four-year university.

All of that aside, welding is challenging. You can compare welding to learning to play the piano because it takes lots of practice to do it well. Once you master welding, however, you’ll have a marketable skill and will have a strong career now and into the future.