Monday, March 13, 2017

Expanded Testing Center Offers Opportunities to Students, Community


Pine Technical and Community College Testing Center
Student Char Herrick, President Joe Mulford and Interim Director of Student Affairs Shawn Reynolds celebrate the opening of Pine Technical & Community College’s expanded Testing Center.

Pine Technical & Community College’s expanded testing center provides opportunities to community members who are seeking career advancement through certification exams, as well as potential and current students who need Accuplacer, make-up exams or accommodated testing. PTCC has been able to boost the testing services by bringing their current testing center on to the main campus and nearly tripling the number of testing stations.
"We identified a need to provide expanded testing services for working adults in our region, as well as our current students,” said Mulford. “The expanded testing center provides a number of certification exams that help our regional workforce advance their careers. It’s unique in the region. Our community members used to travel to the metro or Duluth for the same certification exams. Now, they can take their exam without the hassle of a long commute and a full day off of work.”
Originally established in the Pine Innovation Center, the PTCC Testing Center was launched to provide professional certification testing – such as CISCO, Microsoft, CompTIA and more -- for regional IT employees and graduates from Pine's IT programs. The Testing Center has now grown to include professional certifications beyond IT.
Additionally, there was limited space on campus for students who needed make up tests and accommodated testing facilities. Students seeking the Accuplacer exam are now able to schedule an assessment at a time that’s convenient for them.
“Due to increasing enrollments, we needed to provide more flexibility with our testing services for our current students,” Mulford said. “Many of our students are working adults with families. The Testing Center is open Monday through Friday and provides our students with more options.”
The Rural Information Technology Alliance grant helped to fund the expansion, which included computer work stations, privacy carrels, noise canceling headphones and video monitoring equipment. “Our facilities and IT staff did a great job converting the space and setting up the technology,” added Mulford.
The testing center is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday for current students. Hours for professional certification exams may vary. Please see for a list of testing partners.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Welding program offers fresh start

After just four weeks of training, Melissa Hirsch is poised to make a fresh start. Hirsch completed a four-week welding course that was part of a MN-DEED Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) grant sponsored by Pine Technical & Community College - Employment and Training Center. She's now employed full-time as a welder at Premier Pontoon, earning a great wage and making a better life for her family.

  “I never thought after a four-week class I would be able to get a job and have the pay start as high as it did,” Hirsch said.

  As a single mom recovering from addiction, Hirsch knew she needed to create a new opportunity for herself and her son, but didn't want to be in school for great length of time.

  “I was in childcare, and started doing some tree service and construction and realized I liked hard labor kind of work,” Hirsch, currently a Forest Lake resident, said.

  Not afraid to work with her hands, Hirsch began looking for options, and heard about the four-week welding program at PTCC. Although the length of the program and promise of a high wage made it an attractive option, Hirsch was apprehensive.

  "I had no prior knowledge of welding," Hirsch admits. "I didn't know the tools or the terminology, but the instructor made me feel comfortable."

  "I think it helped that the instructor was a female," Hirsch continued. "When I first started, I had self-doubt. I was intimidated by blue printing reading and not having knowledge of tools. She started from the beginning to explain things, and I didn’t have to feel awkward asking questions."

  Hirsch also found support with the Career Navigator, Kris Hanson.

  "The support of Kris and everyone there – I knew they were all rooting for me. Kris went above and beyond to give resources. Not just career, but also housing assistance as well," she said.

  “Melissa has grown since I first began working with her,” Hanson said. “Learning a trade, landing a great job—these things are more than just a paycheck to women like Melissa. Her confidence has grown. She’s proven she’s not afraid of hard work, and she has found success.”

  Hirsch did have to work hard to find a job, and some of the companies she contacted didn't call. But Hirsch didn't give up. She's now working at Premier Pontoon, earning a great wage that allows for financial stability.

  "Hard work always shows," Hirsch said. "I never thought I would be at this point, be this successful. I now have successful career and can care for my son."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pine Technical & Community College Named to Victory Media’s 2017 Military Friendly® Schools List

Pine Technical & Community College announced today that it has earned the 2017 Military Friendly® School designation by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, STEM Jobs SM, and Military Spouse. First published in 2009, Military Friendly® Schools is the most comprehensive, powerful resource for veterans today. Each year, the list of Military Friendly® Schools is provided to service members and their families, helping them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career.

“We’re very honored by this distinction, because it continues to validate our efforts to help veterans achieve their education goals,” said PTCC President Joe Mulford. “After the sacrifices our veterans and active service members make, we’re proud to give back.”

Institutions earning the Military Friendly® School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from Victory Media’s proprietary survey. More than 1,600 schools participated in the 2017 survey; 1,160 were awarded with the designation. Ratings methodology, criteria, and weightings were determined by Victory Media with input from the Military Friendly® Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for Student Retention, Graduation, Job Placement, Loan Repayment, Persistence (Degree Advancement or Transfer) and Loan Default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans. 

According to Daniel Nichols, a Navy Reserve veteran and Chief Product Officer at Victory Media, “Our ability to apply a clear, consistent standard to the majority of colleges gives veterans a comprehensive view of which schools are striving to provide the best opportunities and conditions for our nation’s student veterans. Military Friendly® helps military families make the best use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other federal benefits while allowing us to further our goal of assisting them in finding success in their chosen career fields.”

For more information about Pine Technical & Community College’s commitment to attracting and supporting military students, visit PTCC’s website at PTCC will be showcased along with other 2017 Military Friendly® Schools in the annual Guide to Military Friendly® Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs® and Military Spouse Magazine, and on

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

$150K grant provides Pathways to Prosperity for PTCC students

A Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development grant will provide more than $150,000 for low income Minnesotans seeking education and training in high demand career fields. The MN Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) grant was awarded to Pine Technical & Community College’s Employment and Training Center, to serve residents of Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine Counties.


The P2P grant will provide training, and support services to qualified individuals who are interested in nursing assistant, welding or production technology. Each are short-term courses that provide incumbent workers with the skills to land a good-paying job in a high-demand field.


“With a 25 year history of serving the region, this is a good fit for us,” said Dwayne Green, ETC’s executive director. “It’s in line with our mission of helping people find not just a job, but a career.”


“Our mission at Pine Technical & Community College is to help people wherever they’re at,” said PTCC President Joe Mulford. “Whether you’re starting out or starting over, PTCC will help you reach your goals. And this grant provides an opportunity for those who might not be able to afford a college education, or those who need to get in a good-paying career in a short time frame. We’re very proud to be working with ETC to provide this opportunity to our community.”


Green is excited for this grant because it provides additional support for participants. “This is a little bit different than other grants, in that it’s more comprehensive. It provides training, but there’s also a case management component to help people with job skills and job searches.”


The grant will provide funds in three stages, including summer semester, fall semester and spring semester. Participants in the grant can start some of the classes as early as May 31, when PTCC’s summer semester begins. Individuals are interested in participating in the grant can contact Kris Hanson at 320.629.4568 or email

Monday, May 16, 2016

PTCC Confers Class of 2016

Pine Technical & Community College conferred more than 230 degrees, diplomas and certificates, honoring the graduates for their accomplishments and contributions to both the college and the community.

As Chief Student Affairs Officer Paula Hoffman welcomed the graduates, and their families and friends, she shared a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” and spoke of how the graduates are realizing their dreams and taking the next step on their journey.
Student Senate President echoed those sentiments, recognizing the motivation that led each graduate to this day, and urging them to think of graduation as a beginning, not as an end.

“Your college and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees will never stop expecting great things from you,” remarked Trustee Thomas Renier.

Providing the commencement address, Rep. Jason Rarick told the graduates, “Minnesota continues to face a workforce shortage, and you are answering the call. The skills you have learned at Pine Technical & Community College are cutting edge. You are contributing to the economic health of the state.”

President Joe Mulford, presiding over commencement for his first time as president of the college, conferred the graduates, reminding them to take pride in their accomplishments as the college takes pride in each and every graduate and the contributions they’ll make to the community.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Pine Technical & Community College now offers MMSC training courses

Motorcyclists, or those looking to get their motorcycle endorsement, have a new training site to go to for Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center rider courses. Pine Technical and Community College in Pine City, Minn. started offering the Basic Rider Course, Intermediate Rider Course and Moped Rider Training this season.
Last year, 61 motorcyclists were killed in 57 crashes on Minnesota roads, according to preliminary reports. That’s up from 46 fatalities in 2014. Thirty-three of those crashes were single-vehicle, involving only the motorcycle. All of these crashes are preventable.
Training is vital to motorcycle safety. The Basic Rider Course helps riders with no experience learn essential motorcycle control skills and earn their motorcycle license. The Intermediate Rider Course helps riders build upon their existing skills and help turn them into better riders. Courses start running in May.
Why take the Basic Rider Course?
  • Riders can get a license and learn essential motorcycle control skills in one course.
  • It’s designed for beginning riders with no previous riding experience and helps returning riders.
  • It’s thorough: Riders spend 4.5 hours learning motorcycle basics in the classroom and 10 hours practicing and mastering basic rider techniques on the range.
Why take the Intermediate Rider Course?
  • It covers skills crucial to safety: Control, finesse, counter steering, cornering, swerving and braking.
  • It’s affordable: The course is $55 for five hours of riding time.
  • Practice makes perfect: This is a great opportunity to tune up your skills early on in the riding season.
  • It opens the door for more advanced courses: After you master the Intermediate Rider Course, the MN Advanced and Expert Rider Courses are next on the list. These courses will turn you into an expert rider, using the same techniques designed to train and keep police motor officers safe in any riding or traffic situation.
How do Riders sign up?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alexis Grinde PTCC’s Outstanding Educator

Biology instructor Dr. Alexis Grinde, has been named Pine Technical and Community College’s Outstanding Educator based on nominations by students, faculty peers, and staff members. Grinde is one of 30 across the state to have earned the title – the others having earned the nomination from their respective MnSCU institutions. Grinde, with other MnSCU nominees, was recognized in a statewide ceremony in April.
 The Outstanding Educator designation recognizes the exceptional commitment that each of the nominees have demonstrated in teaching, in their continuous professional development and in their service to students, the college, profession and the MnSCU system.
 Grinde was honored to be nominated by her peers and students. "Biology is an intimidating subject for the majority of students," Grinde said. "It is truly humbling to be nominated as an outstanding educator by past and present students; it shows me that my approach to teaching biology is helping students be successful in reaching their educational goals."
 Grinde teaches a variety of biology classes at Pine including Health and Disease in the Human Body, Microbiology, Human Anatomy and Physiology and Nutrition and Wellness. In her nomination, Grinde was named a trailblazer when it comes to classroom innovations, because she embraces varied and effective teaching strategies that cater to students' different learning styles. Her nomination also noted her expertise in successfully engaging students makes her an invaluable resource to them and her campus colleagues. 
 “Alexis is so deserving of this award,” said Joan Bloemendaal-Gruett, chief academic officer at Pine. “She strives for excellence both in and outside of the classroom. Her commitment to her students and to her field is commendable.”