Almost two dozen technical education students visited our Iron Range service center in Virginia, MN for a career awareness event sponsored by Mesabi Range and Hibbing community colleges.

The students are no strangers to mining; most live within the shadow of the nearby Minntac mine. They are eager to enter the mining industry, despite recent turbulence in commodities markets. As one student noted, “I don’t think the mines are ever going to up and leave.”

The facility repairs and rebuilds mining equipment for the mines in the Iron Range, including mining shovels that are the size of high school gymnasiums. Students viewed the seven-story welding bay that is busy all day with grinding and welding. Another student watched the activity in awe, noting that he longs to work with his hands and become a mechanic or welder after he completes school.

The shop supervisor, Ted Erickson, reminded students “don't coast, mesh with the team” when they move into the workplace. One of our mechanics – Tom Grabanski – recommended that they “take any education you can get when you can get it.”

The students were pleased with the day’s outcome – a glimpse inside a facility they pass every day on the way to school. As one student noted, “I drive by here a lot. It’s nice to see what goes on inside.”