‘Good to see what’s new’ at CTE Center

New Ulm High School Principal Mark Bergmann (left) describes the welding program to the EDA as he stands with a bin the program created. The CTE Center partners with River View Sanitation to create and fix their trash bins.

NEW ULM — Members of the New Ulm EDA walked away impressed after a tour of the New Ulm Public School’s Career Technical Education Center.

For some members of the EDA, it was the first time looking around the facility in around two years. The EDA has given the CTE Center $190,000 in funding so far, including $100,000 to help get the center up and running and $40,000 at a recent EDA meeting to get new equipment.

The tour was also attended by New Ulm Mayor Kathleen Backer.

Board member Les Schultz was one of those who had not toured the building since the open house when the center first opened. He said he was excited to see what they had added and done in the meantime.

“They’ve added some programs,” Schultz said. “They’re doing a few new things and they’ve invited us to come back. I really enjoyed the original tour. A lot of great things they’re doing for our community. Good to see what’s new.”

Robotics advisor Joe Schotzko explains the methods and operations of the robotics program while standing with the robot they recently entered into a FIRST Robotics Competition. The task was to create a robot that could throw an orange ring into a bowl.

Leading the tour was New Ulm High School Principal Mark Bergmann. He started the tour by showing the auto and welding areas. Bergmann said the CTE Center now has partnerships with nearly 100 businesses, including 3M, Big Ideas, and Mike’s Collision. He said a major partnership for their welding department is with River View Sanitation.

“You’ll see the dumpsters we make for River View Sanitation,” Bergmann said. “We’d never have been able to do a welding class [without them]. The materials [would be] way too expensive if we didn’t have a partner like River View.”

Bergmann said the material to make one dumpster would ordinarily cost around $1,000.

The group also visited the Robotics department, where they got to meet the robot recently entered into a Robotics competition held by the non-profit For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). Their goal was to create a robot that could take an orange ring and throw it into a bowl.

Robotics advisor Joe Schotzko said working on robots has many different facets, especially during competition.

Mayor Kathleen Backer asks a question about the PAES Lab during the EDA tour of the CTE Center. The lab helps students with disabilities try out different career paths and figure out their future plans.

“[With} these robots, you got to make adjustments,” he said. “They’re figuring out how they will [adjust when] things break. One of the goals for the team was to use these omnidirectional wheels. We haven’t done that before. In recent history, we always use more of a tank mode where it’s a zero turn radius.”

Though they placed 49th out of 63 competitors, Schotzko said the focus of these events is just as much cooperation as it is competition. They learn from other teams and develop their communication and teamwork skills as much as they do their robotics.

Other areas visited included a PAES lab, which allows students with disabilities to learn about potential careers and transition into everyday life, and a GED-like program called Student Educational Equity that helps students make up credits without forcing them to drop out of school.

After taking in everything, Backer said she enjoyed seeing the center’s offerings being embraced by students. This differed from the last time she had toured the center because it had taken place at night.

“You saw all the equipment but didn’t see it in action,” she said. “To come in here and actually see them working on the projects and how the program is being embraced. It really has a purpose with the students.”

Schultz said he enjoyed hearing about the partnerships they had developed because they would be key in sustaining the CTE Center. Backer agreed and said they are often the unsung heroes when it comes to raising funds for initiatives like the CTE Center.

“Having been a fundraiser for 40 years, often you talk about the dollars and cents,” she said, What isn’t promoted enough is those business partners that make it go. That’s the horsepower behind it. River View could just as easily put out the money and have somebody else fabricate them, but to give the students the opportunity is huge.”

Schultz said he could see the money invested by the EDA was well spent. He said it is important to recognize those who pioneered and fought for this space, like former Superintendent Jeff Bertrang.


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