Minneapolis College Launches Bicycle Technician Program

Certificate program is one of just two in the country

Minneapolis College’s Dean of the School of Trade Technologies Vincent Thomas

Photo submitted by Vincent Thomas

Minneapolis College’s Dean of the School of Trade Technologies Vincent Thomas

Minneapolis College will become one of two post-secondary institutions* in the United States to offer a Bicycle Assembly and Repair Technician Certificate. The program begins Sept. 20. Initial students enrolled in the program will earn their certificate just in time to be hired before the start of the local bicycle industry’s busy Spring season. Students who complete the program will have a higher skill level, earn a higher wage, and produce a higher value for the shops. “This program is designed to meet the needs of employers in our community,” said Minneapolis College’s Dean of the School of Trade Technologies Vincent Thomas. “More importantly, we are providing a new pathway to a career for our students.”

The College will launch the program in collaboration with the Bicycle Industry Employers Association (BIEA), a national non-profit organization created to establish collegiate-level programs that educate students for careers in the bicycle industry. Dave Olson, CEO of Minneapolis-based Erik’s Bikes, serves as Chair of BIEA’s all-volunteer Board of Directors. “What started as an idea for a non-credit training program grew into a vision for a new department and academic award when we met Dave,” Thomas said. “BIEA is contributing industry expertise and the connection to a national network of employers for certificate program graduates. It is also donating instructional equipment to the College.”

Thomas met Olson for the first time at his office at the corporate headquarters of Erik’s Bike Shop, Inc. “We were introduced to each other by a former Minneapolis College employee named Earl Lingerfelt,” said Thomas. Lingerfelt no longer works at Minneapolis College. Thomas said that he was a Customized Training Representative in the College’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development department. “I was his supervisor,” said Thomas. “Mr. Lingerfelt came to me with an idea for a new non-credit training program: what if we could train people for entry-level jobs as bicycle mechanics? I told him that I liked the idea, and directed him to do the necessary market research and planning.”

Lingerfelt met Olson while doing his market research. Olson was already working on a project to establish a college-level program that would educate students for careers as bicycle service technicians. “When Mr. Olson heard that our College was working on a similar project, he said that he wanted to meet with us to discuss a possible partnership,” said Thomas.

The Fall Semester cohort will attend two 12-week semesters to earn their certificates. Then, a new cohort of 24 students will begin the program every Fall Semester. Certificate program courses will include lectures and labs. “Students will learn how to assemble and repair all types, brands and ages of bicycles, including electric bikes, which have become very popular with riders,” Thomas said. “As with the College’s other career and technical programs, the goal is to educate students not just for jobs, but for careers in a specialized trade.”

The College hired Casey Coughlin last month to serve as the program’s first instructor. She previously worked as a service mechanic and service manager at Erik’s Bikes before being promoted to a position responsible for market training and field support to multiple stores.

“Our students will benefit from Casey’s combination of bicycle industry experience and her teaching assistance role at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire,” Thomas said.

(*NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Ark. offers a Technical Certificate for Bike Assembly and Repair Technician.)

Minneapolis College is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system and offers students more than 100 liberal arts, career and technical programs designed to prepare them for good jobs in high-demand professions or to transfer to a four?year college or university. Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, more than 10,000 students enroll annually in credit and non-credit programs. The College’s Foundation provides scholarships and emergency assistance awards to highly motivated, low-income students. Without this support, most of these students would be unable to pursue their academic dreams. For additional information, please visit Minneapolis.edu