Going to the Gemba: A Tour Through North Dakota CTE

Matt Kirchner, Host - The TechEd Podcast

Love the episode? Leave a review on your favorite podcast platform!


Big opportunities await across small towns in North Dakota. From agriculture to manufacturing, energy, healthcare and defense, the industrial workforce has a strong presence in the state. Now more than ever, career and technical education is vital to the state's economy.

We took a two-week tour through North Dakota, interviewing leaders in CTE at every corner of the state, to discover what makes North Dakota so unique. Join us on a journey in this unique episode of The TechEd Podcast.

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. The big-yet-small mindset of North Dakota is a huge benefit for CTE: The whole state has a small town feel - "North Dakota nice" they call it. Though the state's population centers are few and far between, everyone is connected with everyone else. The willingness to support and help one another goes beyond neighbors. Industry is willing to partner and support their local career centers; school districts share best practices with one another; and the students benefit in the end.
  2. State governments must allocate more funding to support career and technical education: Go into nearly any school district and they'll tell you their biggest challenge is not having the funds they need. That's not the case in North Dakota. Across the state, educators shared how supportive the state legislature and governor have been in expanding and updating CTE in the state.
  3. Growing CTE isn't just about doing more, it's about doing better, too: Educators and employers agree: we need more CTE in our schools. But we can't just keep doing what we've always done. Traditional courses like welding, metals, wood shop and small engines can continue, but we need to upgrade and update our labs to be relevant to industry's fast-moving technology and workforce needs. That means adding mechatronics, IIoT, smart manufacturing, robotics and automation, drones, computer science, and the list goes on.

Speakers Featured in this Episode

  • Dale Hoerauf - Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy
  • Ryan Pierce - Cass County Career and Technical Education Center
  • Eric Ripley - Grand Forks Public Schools
  • Jeff Rerick - Mandan Public School District
  • Steve Holen - Watford City School District
  • Pam Stroklund - Minot Public Schools
  • Mike Hanson - North Valley Career and Technology Center
  • Derrick Bopp - Sheyenne Valley Area Career and Technology Center
  • Dan Spellerberg - Southeast Region Career and Technology Center
  • Aaron Anderson - Southwest Area Career and Technology Center


What our listeners are saying

The #1 podcast in TechEd

This podcast is a great resource to keep up with all the exciting changes in the world of manufacturing and technology. Get key insight from industry leaders from the Midwest and around the globe that you won’t find anywhere else. A must listen for anyone interested in how technology is changing the way businesses operate.

The pulse of Industry 4.0

This podcast has its fingers on the pulse of Industry 4.0, and Matt K. is a phenomenal guide, traversing the complexities of manufacturing and education in one forum. A+ work all around!


I find Matt's approach to be very compelling. He brings both perspectives, industry AND education. He doesn't hold back on what he thinks is important...

New and Exciting Content With Every Episode

I really enjoy listening to this podcast when I'm driving or have a free moment. Each episode brings a new guest with a fresh and exciting perspective of both education and the workforce!

I needed this podcast back when I was in High School!

Such great content that deserves more attention at all level of education. I wish I heard some of these episodes when I was navigating my own career path. Incredible guests, with incredible messages to share. Keep up the great work!

Inspiring topics featuring inspiring leaders

I’ve listened to most of your weekly podcasts and enjoy listening to the stories and conversations that feature business and education leaders from Wisconsin. Kudos to you for creating a platform that presents ideas and success stories that are important to Career and Technical Education teachers and leaders.

Best Career and TechEd Podcast

There are a lot of education podcasts out there. This is the only one that really focuses on bringing together voices from inside AND outside education and focuses specifically on STEM and Career/Tech Ed. This is a great podcast for anyone in education and also for anyone who employs STEM or skilled-trades talent in their workforce.

Filling in Gaps

This show spotlights a large and growing aspect of education that doesn’t get enough attention. Practical and technical education is a field growing exponentially. This podcast Highlights many of the facets of this diverse field.

Fantastic Topics on the Future of Industry

These podcasts are the best for learning about current and future technology. The stories are great. We need more of these interviews.

Become a Subscriber

Subscribe & leave a review on your favorite podcast platform