Voyageurs Career Exploration:
Minnesota Innovation Initiative

In 2013 greater Bemidji partnered with regional business partners to create the Minnesota Innovation Initiative (MI2) a "private lead/private driven" organization whose purpose is to serve business and industry workforce needs. MI2 trains current workers, new workers entering the workforce, and individuals looking for a career change to acquire the skills they need to be successful in the manufacturing sector. MI2 has developed a partnership with Voyageurs Expeditionary School to create a training program that allows juniors and seniors to take Mechatronics courses for school credit and in some cases earn college credit and national certificates. MI2 has helped many of these trainees secure their first job as well as enter post secondary education.

Partners In Success

Since 2014 MI2 has partnered with multiple area high schools, and in 2018 will be piloting a partnership with Voyageurs Expeditionary School for juniors and seniors interested in furthering their mechanical and technical skills. Courses that will be offered include: Mechanical Fabrication, AC/DC Electrical Systems, Basic Hydraulics, Rotating Electric Machines, and Certified Production Technology. Working together and making use of small instructor-student ratios, flexible classroom hours, and affording students the freedom and responsibility to attend classes off-campus, students can be prepared to succeed!

MI2: Fulfilling Regional Workforce

In the NW region of Minnesota there are many opportunities to use a certificate in Mechatronics and go to work at a wide variety of companies. Mechatronics is used to improve and optimize the efficiency, productivity and quality in the production and manufacturing fields. In 2016 the Department of Employment and Economic Development recorded nearly 1,000 manufacturing job vacancies in the NW region of Minnesota, with a median starting wage of $13.97. Nationally, a skills gap exist in the manufacturing sector, with more jobs coming available than there are skilled workers to fill these job vacancies. Many of the companies in our region hire individuals with the background in Mechatronics. One of the missions of MI2 is to help fill the vacancies by keeping local, talented individuals trained and in the region.

What is Mechatronics?

Mechatronics is the combination of mechanics, electronics, control systems theory and the computers into a single discipline. The skills and knowledge a person learns in Mechatronics provides the foundation for going to work in technical fields such as production and manufacturing. At the Minnesota Innovation Initiative, it is our most popular set of classes.

What kind of companies use Mechatronics?

  • Manufacturing Companies
  • Fabrication and Machining Shops
  • Forestry and Wood Products
  • Industrial Plants
  • Packaging Companies

E-learning and Lab Schedules

Our classes are structured to be a combination of e-learning and hands on lab activities, and will take place during your assigned class time for the term.

The e-learning can be done on any computer at any location, you are welcome to work on our computers at our classrooms or you can work at computers that are at your school that your teacher or principal designate for you. Our instructors will provide you with a username and password that you will use to log-on and complete your e-learning segments.

The lab activities must be done at our classrooms and must be scheduled with our instructors. It is your responsibility to work with our instructors to arrange her schedule of e-learning and lab activities.


(e-learning and lab hours are estimates and each individual's time Will very by ability and time applied)

Mechanical Fabrication (40 hours + 16 lab hours):

Mechanical Fabrication grounds learners in the basic knowledge needed for assembly. Learners focus on the proper and safe application of hand tools. Mechanical Fabrication builds knowledge in the many types of bolts, wrenches and other fittings commonly used industry and how to properly apply them, including pneumatic fabrication fittings. Focuses on proper techniques for checking connections and testing fittings with an emphasis on safety. Proper tool use helps in many ways, including injury avoidance, fewer product quality issues, and lower tool breakage costs.

AC/DC Electrical Systems (40 hours + 16 lab hours):

AC/DC Electrical course teaches fundamentals of AC/DC electrical systems used for power and control in industrial, commercial, agricultural, and residential applications. Students learn industry-relevant skills included in subject areas such as Basic Electrical Circuits, Electrical Measurement, Circuit Analysis, Inductance and Capacitance, Combination Circuits, and Transformers.

Basic Hydraulics (40 hours + 16 lab hours):

Basic Hydraulics introduces hydraulic power use and application, allowing learners to develop skills and knowledge needed to apply hydraulics in modern industry. It takes learners through key topics and skills in hydraulic power & safety, hydraulic circuits, hydraulic schematics, the principles of hydraulic pressure and flow, and hydraulic speed control circuits. It covers pumps, fluid friction, how to connect hydraulic circuits, hydraulic cylinders and valves (including needle valves), and a wide variety of hydraulic applications.

Rotating Machines (48 hours + 16 lab hours):

Learners will be introduced to electric motors, electric motor safety, reversing a DC series motor, DC shunt and compound motors, motor speed and torque, motor performance, split-phase AC motors, capacitor-start motor characteristics, permanent-capacitor and two-capacitor motors and three-phase AC induction motors.

Mechanical Drives (48 hours + 24 lab hours):

Mechanical Drives 1 introduces mechanical systems and develops fundamental knowledge of mechanical systems and practices. This course covers basic safety, installation, key fasteners, power transmission systems, v-belt drives, chain drives, spur gear drives, and multiple shaft drives. Topics covered include learning how to select, install, adjust, troubleshoot, and repair a range of mechanical systems which are commonly found in both automated and manual machines used in every industry around the world.

Intermediate Hydraulics (40 hours + 16 lab hours):

Intermediate Hydraulics builds on basic hydraulic skills teaching hydraulic components and system applications. Learners Will learn industry-relevant skills related to new topics including operation, installation, performance analysis, and design. These topics include accumulator sizing, system design, circuit applications, component operation/installation, pilot-operated directional control valves (DCVs), 2-stage directional control valves, cam-operated directional control valves (DCVs), DCV spool center types and applications, cylinder types and mountings, pressure-compensated flow control valves, pilot-operated check valves, direct-operated relief valves, non-compensated flow control valves, rapid traverse slow feed circuits, cylinder sequencing, remote pressure control, pump unloading circuits, and p-port check valves.

Electric Motor Control 1 (40 hours + 24 lab hours):

Electric Motor Control teaches electric relay control of AC electric motors found in industrial, commercial, and residential applications. Learners gain understanding of the operation, installation, design, and troubleshooting of AC electric motor control circuits for many common applications. Students develop skills in interpreting schematics, system design, motor start/stop circuits, motor sequence control, reversing motor control, and motor jogging. Safety is emphasized throughout, highlighting motor safety, lockout/tag out and safety interlocks.

Electric Motor Control 2 (40 hours + 24 lab hours):

The student will be introduced to reduced voltage starting circuits, power generation and distribution, variable frequency AC drives including, speed and torque control, acceleration, deceleration and breaking and fault diagnostics and troubleshooting. In addition electronic sensors, timers and counters and SCR motor control will be covered.

Electro-Fluid Power (48 hours + 24 lab hours):

Electro-Fluid Power introduces electrical control systems and discusses basic control devices, power devices, control relays, sequencing control, timer control, pressure control applications, and circuit applications. Also discussed in depth to provide further skills is automatic and electrical control concepts and devices, logic elements, hydraulic and pneumatics solenoid-operated valves, relay and motor control applications, safety circuits and modes of operation.

Programmable Controllers (48 hours + 24 lab hours):

The Programmable Controllers course begins by describing PLC orientation, operations, and programming languages. It covers basic PLC Programming by describing numbering systems, PLC memory organization, PLC programming software and PLC program analysis. PLC motor control, discrete input and output interfacing, PLC timer and counter instructions are also discussed to give a better application of Programmable Controllers. This course also introduces PLC troubleshooting by discussing levels of PLC troubleshooting, power supply troubleshooting, input troubleshooting and output troubleshooting. Skills also discussed include PLC Systems troubleshooting, event sequencing, application development, program control instructions, and math and data move instructions.

Mechatronics Capstone (48 hours in classroom):

The Mechatronics Capstone course encourages learners to innovation at a whole new level. Modern industry relies on highly complex production systems to produce high-quality, economical products for an ever demanding world. Mechatronics teaches learners systems thinking that is required to effectively operate, program, and problem solve in this complex environment. Learners combine multiple technologies such as Mechatronics, CIM, Advanced PLCs, or Industrial Maintenance. Learners will work with multiple stations individually and collectively to produce an actual industrial product through processes performed on dedicated manufacturing stations.