Hennepin adds work experience to curriculum
Hennepin Technical College, like many technician-level schools, works with industry leaders to provide students with an education that is both comprehensive and relevant to the demands of industry. Unlike other schools, however, Hennepin goes so far as to incorporate real-world experience with industry into the curriculum. Hennepin does its best to set new students up with part-time jobs at local companies as a supplement to their classroom and lab education.
“We have our fluid power classes offered in the morning and in the afternoon we like them to go out and work with industry, so that when they graduate they already have a couple years under their belt,” Ernie Parker, a professor at Hennepin Technical College, said.
Working part time in the industry not only helps students pay for school, but allows the students to jump from company to company and investigate what they most enjoy doing in the industry. Sometimes the companies will even chip in with scholarships for those students who show an eagerness to learn and get involved with the industry.
Hennepin possesses two labs stocked with equipment supplied by industry. Toro donates prototypes of its mowers for students to disassemble, giving them a chance to disassemble pumps and other parts for the first time. Students are even encouraged to take a spin on a mower with a hydrostatic transmission so that they may better understand the efficiency fluid power can bring.
In an effort to recruit new students into the fluid power program, Parker will occasionally take trips out to local high schools where he will demonstrate some of the final projects created by students at Hennepin. One such project was a drivable hydraulic picnic table that used a hydrostatic transmission! But word of mouth has been the best recruitment tool.
“My second-year students know the students who graduated a year ahead of them, they know the students a year behind them and the ones coming into the program,” Parker said. “They have such a network that we have families, that is cousins, brothers and sons that have signed up for the program.”
Hennepin Technical College