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NTC to add commercial refrigeration diploma

Darrin Strosahl, Northwest Technical College’s vice president for academic affairs, announces a new commercial refrigeration program on Monday at the school. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI—Administrators at Northwest Technical College plan to roll out a new diploma program next fall.

College staff hope to enroll about 20 students in a new commercial refrigeration program there after meeting with regional commercial refrigeration leaders, who said they often struggle to find and retain qualified workers. The school held a formal announcement event Monday morning.

The four-semester program will include a lot of existing NTC courses, like construction safety and electrical theory. College leaders plan to hire a new instructor to teach program-specific courses, and they're angling for area businesses to donate old equipment for hands-on study. And Minnesota State could match the value of those donations up to $300,000, which the college would spend on newer equipment that businesses might be reluctant to part with.

Beyond commercial refrigeration, NTC staff may also add a new program for aging and dementia care, and another criminal justice program that would supplement the one already in place at Bemidji State University.

The new programming comes amid a broader revamp of NTC's priorities that aims to make it more responsive to regional workforce needs and significantly increase enrollment, which has declined over the past few years.

Darrin Strosahl, NTC's vice president for academic affairs, has repeatedly stressed the value of a technical degree, citing research by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that found certificate and associate's degree holders in northwest Minnesota saved more and owed less than their counterparts with bachelor's degrees.

"We know that if we can help people understand the value of technical education, that it's really good in terms of their career path," Strosahl said.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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