VIRGINIA, MN -- Educating a new kind of engineer and bringing them to northeastern Minnesota. That's the goal behind the Bell Program and its partnership with Iron Range Engineering.
So far, the program has brought 20 students from across the country to the Iron Range and on Wednesday, those students were celebrated as they ended their time in the program.
The training, which takes place at Mesabi Range Community College, is in collaboration with Iron Range Engineering and Minnesota State Mankato.
Officials say it's a national need, but it's particularly important to Northeastern Minnesota's future workforce as retirements continue and skilled workers become a necessity to local industries.
"So, the need right now is outpacing the supply. No matter how many students we graduate each year, because of retirements, there are more jobs than people," said Ron Ulseth, Director of Iron Range Engineering.
The next session of the program will bring an estimated 50 students to the Iron Range to continue their education.
But the celebration didn't stop with the students at the college on Wednesday.
Packaging Corporation of America, whose plant is based out of International Falls, gave more than $100,000 in scholarship money to Iron Range Engineering to help cover the cost of education for future students.