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Program History


The two founders of the present day ICC Engineering Program are instructors Ron Ulseth and Aaron Wenger

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Ron Ulseth, P.E. is a faculty member in the Itasca Community College Engineering and the Iron Range Engineering programs. He has been in the classroom, teaching for more than 20 years, and has been a contributor to the development of both programs. Ulseth recently retired after 24 years in the US Navy Reserve as an Engineering Officer.

 

                                                                                            

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Right up to high school graduation Aaron Wenger thought he’d continue the family tradition of farming, but instead found his way to Ohio University. He was the first of his immediate family to attend college, and picked physics because he liked science fiction and had to declare a major. Once he actually saw physics he loved it and went on to receive a graduate degree in astrophysics from Toledo University, where he researched comets.

Wenger came to Minnesota in 1968 to be near Quetico Provincial Park. He worked at Rainy River Community College, where he built an observatory and started an engineering program through Boise Cascade. In 1982, Wenger moved to ICC and took over a failing engineering program that had four freshman students. Over the next 18 years Wenger, along with Ron Ulseth, redesigned engineering education. Wenger is retired now, raises and trains horses, and occasionally “dabbles” in engineering education at ICC.

 

Ron was originally based at Hibbing Community College and worked with Aaron through a collaborative effort utilizing interactive television to offer engineering classes to students from both colleges.

Using this interactive distance education, Aaron and Ron developed the joint program, which grew to over 40 engineering students at each institution by 1997. As the program expanded, new math, physics, and engineering facilities had to be added.  Aaron retired from full-time teaching in 1998, and Ron transferred to ICC to take his place.

 Over the past decade Aaron and Ron have teamed together and carefully brought new members to the team to build a nationally recognized two-year college engineering transfer program.  In the fall of 2002, the construction of the new engineering building at Itasca Community College was completed, and is now home to over 130 students, with 36 students living on the third floor.

Today there are full-time and part time instructors in the Engineering Department, a concept lab supervisor and Director of Engineering Outreach as well as Aaron, who is now working with his wife Carol finding and writing scholarship grants for ICC engineering students.