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Award Honors Customized Training Representative Nick Graff

Graff, who has been at the college since 2006, received the award during the council’s recent annual statewide conference. He was selected from multiple nominations because of his work in creating and managing the highly successful Precision Sheet Metal Academy for dislocated workers and veterans. The council is a professional organization of continuing education and customized training representatives within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system.

“We are very proud of Nick Graff for receiving this honor and for the work he did in making this program a success,” said Interim Anoka Technical College President Jessica Stumpf. “The program contributed greatly to the economic vitality of the communities in this area by helping to ensure employers have the skilled workers they need in this high-demand occupation.”

Since the precision sheet metal program began in 2011, about 250 workers have completed the 8-week course and 97 percent-among the highest success rates of any program in the U.S. - found full-time employment with local and regional manufacturers, said Jamie Barthel, executive director of the college’s Professional and Workforce Training center. In addition, Graff secured about $2.3 million in equipment, software, service and materials to operate the program and federal/state grant funds to cover the $3,500 tuition for each student.

“I’m extremely honored to receive this recognition from my peers,” Graff said. “The work that goes on here is important not just for the students but for the employers and the economy in this area. The greatest joy I get is when our students tell me they are employed. These are people who, in some cases were losing hope, as they had been jobless for months and even years. Now, they and their families have a much brighter future.”

Graff also heads the college’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC), recognized by the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NACATC) as the only ATC in the U.S. that has a Fabricated Metals Technology program.  

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