Posted: Thu, 03/13/2014 - 8:56am in News
Aaron Barker, energy & electronics instructor, and Brad Burklund, farm business management instructor, have been named St. Cloud Technical & Community College 2014 Faculty of the Year.
Colleagues know Aaron as a dedicated and enthusiastic individual with a passion for teaching and the ability to think outside the box.
When Aaron became the head of the electronics program at St. Cloud Technical & Community College in 2009, the program’s existence was being threatened by very low enrollment. Since then, he has been the driving force for the success of the program and has played a major role in the development of other new programs at SCTCC.
Aaron was instrumental in helping SCTCC partner with Xcel Energy in 2010 to develop the Nuclear Technician Program. The program is designed to prepare graduates for work as Nuclear Plant Maintenance Technicians. The nuclear track is the newest addition to SCTCC's current catalog of energy tracks: wind power, ethanol, bio-diesel, solar power, and fossil fuel energy production.
In addition to his roles as a college instructor, Aaron is also actively involved in volunteering his time to students outside of SCTCC. One example of his commitment to serving students and the community has been his role as the event organizer for the region’s VEX Robotics competition. The program uses robotics as a way to introduce middle and high school students to science, technology, engineering, and math in a fun and collaborative environment. St. Cloud Technical & Community College hosted Minnesota’s first VEX Robotics World Qualifying competition in 2012 and the event has grown ever since.
Brad says he chose a career in teaching to help make a positive impact on others – which he has been doing for over two decades at St. Cloud Technical & Community College.
Brad has been an instructor in the Farm Business Management program at SCTCC since August 1991. The Farm Business Management Program is concerned with the economic principles and agricultural practices used in making decisions about alternative ways of using land, labor, capital and management ability to make a profit in farming.
Students enrolled in SCTCC’s Farm Business Management program are self-employed farmers and ranchers. Because of the unique nature of his students, Brad provides individualized learning plans to all of them and has a genuine interest in their success. Their farm operation is their exclusive, individualized, real life, real-time case study. Brad believes that this real life application of all learned concepts makes the learning more relevant. Brad’s students appreciate his flexible and personal approach to teaching.
In 2013, Brad was named Outstanding Post-Secondary Agriculture Educator of the year by the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators. The Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators is an organization of teachers of agriculture at the high school, post-secondary, and adult levels who seek to advance agricultural education in Minnesota.