Northland College Awarded A $5 Million U.S. Department of Labor ARRA Grant

THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (February 2010) – Dr. Anne Temte, President of Northland Community & Technical College is pleased to announce that the college’s Aviation Maintenance Program has been awarded an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (A.R.R.A.) grant for $4,996,844,00. This grant, which will be allocated over the next three years, will be used to establish the Northland Community & Technical College Unmanned Ariel Systems Maintenance Training Center.

“This grant will position Northland Community and Technical College to be at the forefront of this developing industry along with our partners at the University of North Dakota and the Grand Forks Air Force Base.” Dr. Temte explained, “This is a classic example of the stars lining up. With our aviation maintenance expertise at our airport site in Thief River Falls, we have the assets that complement those of our partners and will establish this region as a leader in the emerging technology of remotely piloted aircraft.”

She continued, “As the college president, I am very proud of our staff members who have had the passion and vision to push us beyond normal expectations of what a rural community and technical college can do. I am also proud of community leaders who have shared this vision and assisted us in our efforts to secure this grant funding.” The greater Red River Valley region is fast becoming a national center for UAS activity. Northland College has a strong working relationship with the University of North Dakota’s UAS Center of Excellence, the UND Center of Innovation and the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Together, these entities will offer the “complete package” for UAS development, Temte, noted.

Scott Fletcher, Director of NCTC’s Aviation Maintenance Program, was thrilled with the news. “We are overwhelmed by the excellent opportunity ahead of us. The importance of this program, both to our region and our community, is immeasurable. Our program and facilities will complement the existing foundation the region has already built and developed. With our new capabilities, the region will have even more opportunities to build a strong, viable partnership with many other organizations on a global scale. We see a big future in this industry and we are in the position to become a vital component.” The purpose of the UAS Maintenance Training Center is to provide a nationally recognized primary Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) maintenance training program which supports unmanned aerial vehicles and Ground Control Stations (GCS) related to all applications concerning Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).

James Retka, NCTC Dean of Workforce and Economic Development said, “Since May 2008, NCTC has been aggressively working to implement the strategic plan for the reinvigoration of our aviation school. Unmanned Ariel Systems represent a significant portion of our programming moving forward and will further connect the college and region to our military and private-sector partners”. Retka went on to say, “This project will allow the college to train students for high-skill, high-wage jobs which will in turn create additional economic growth opportunities for our region”.

Senators and Representatives, from both Minnesota and North Dakota, have been extremely supportive of the creation of the college’s UAS Maintenance Training Center. Congressman Collin Peterson, from Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District, wrote numerous letters in support of the college’s grant proposal.

The development of the center faced early challenges. Dan Klug, Executive Director of the Foundation, shared that, “There was no funding to develop the UAS program due to the state deficit, and reductions in the college’s state funding allocation. Fortunately, the Thief River Falls community has strong college supporters. Northern State Bank’s President David Beito, Thief River Falls Jobs Inc., and the Dondelinger Foundation all donated significant funds to underwrite development expenses.” Klug continued, “In addition, these funds were matched by the Minnesota State College & Universities system, through the leadership of Chancellor Dr. James McCormick. Northland Community and Technical College and the NCTC Foundation are grateful for their belief in the program and their financial support.”

Northland Community and Technical College is a comprehensive college with campuses in East Grand Forks, MN, and Thief River Falls, MN. One- and two-year degrees, transfer programs and diploma certification are available in a variety of majors, as well as workforce training and continuing education programs. NCTC is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Visit the College at NCTC is an equal opportunity educator and employer.