Bicycle assembly, repair program leads to new careers

By Minneapolis College

The Minneapolis College Bicycle Assembly and Repair Technician Certificate, launched in 2021, prepares students for immediate employment in technical positions in the bicycle industry with the skills required to assemble all types and brands of new bicycles. Students garner a level of skill that ensures rider safety and the bicycle’s effective performance.

Designed to be completed in two 12-week semesters, the accelerated 28 credit class schedule allows students to start their repair and assembly courses in September and finish by the following April, in time for employment at the start of the peak season for bicycle assembly and repair.

“The goal of the certificate program is to ensure students are both effective and attractive to employers so they can move from education to opportunity,” said Casey Coughlin, faculty in the program. “In addition to learning the technical skills necessary to work in the bicycle assembly and repair industry, students complete a business course so they can operate a bicycle service department and gain an understanding of the function areas of a business.”

Driven to increase diversity, skills, wages, and professionalism in the field, Coughlin worked tirelessly alongside Minneapolis College leadership and David Olson, chair of the Bicycle Industry Employers Association, to create a high-level training program. Coughlin holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and her background as a bike mechanic, bike shop service manager and educator provide her the expertise to lead the program. She often describes working on bicycles as being Sherlock Holmes, solving mysteries on different bikes every day.

Program graduate secures new career

A testament to the program, alum Ellis Ott secured a position at the nonprofit Express Bike Shop in St. Paul right after graduation. Ott was drawn to the mission of Express Bike Shop, a full-service bike shop specializing in refurbished bicycles and a nonprofit youth employment program all rolled into one.

Ott graduated from high school in 2020 and was taking some art classes at Minneapolis College when he learned about the Bicycle Assembly and Repair Certificate. “I’ve always been interested in the mechanics of things and found it exciting to learn a skill that was hands-on and would lead to a career supporting my community,” said Ott who appreciated the small classes and collaboration of the students enrolled. “Our instructor Casey is very curious and created a supportive learning environment where if you’re willing to try, she can teach you.”

Ott considered the bike world intimidating, especially to diverse populations, when he first explored the idea of bicycle repair. “The program at Minneapolis College merits you based on skills versus pre-existing societal advantages,” said Ott who had no experience repairing bicycles when he began the program. “My lack of experience in the field never hindered me in the program and I now have the skills and confidence to succeed in the industry.”

Bike Collective

A testament to his commitment to our community and his value of bikes, Ott spent time out of class over the past year ensuring the Bike Collective at Minneapolis College was rebuilt for a strong future. This student club provides an on-campus bike shop to support students, faculty, and staff who experience technical challenges with their bikes. Student members will repair the bikes or encourage people to problem solve and support them as they fix what’s wrong on their own.

This article originally appeared here.

Minneapolis College

is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.