Engineering Institute

Totino-Grace Engineering Institute

E3: Experiential Engineering Education

The Totino-Grace Engineering Institute will intellectually engage and challenge students with a rigorous curriculum that includes coursework focused on engineering, as well as exposure to the field of engineering through program components occurring outside of the classroom. 

On Sunday, January 26, at 5:00 p.m. in the Auditorium, Totino-Grace E3 Engineering Institute Directors will host an event for all freshman students and parents who are interested in exploring the E3 program. Attendees will learn about the program, the application process, and benefits. If you are unable to attend, please contact Engineering Institute Director Mr. Dan Vandermyde.

Institute Components

College-Prep Curriculum with emphasis on Math and Science and will also include critical thinking, public speaking and collaborative project-based learning skills.

Required Courses in Math and Science as well as three semesters of Engineering-specific coursework. Click HERE to view Engineering course descriptions.

Seminars and Enrichment Activities including lectures, field trips and presentations outside the classroom.

Mentorship Opportunities with professionals in Engineering careers.

Internship/Field-Experience providing significant first hand experience in various areas of Engineering.

Co-Curricular Activity center around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) opportunities.

Capstone Project which culminates the student's experience within the Institute.

Global Perspective through innovative international Engineering connections. 

Engineering Institute - The Student Experience

Brief outlines of Engineering I, II, and III are outlined below. For full course descriptions, visit the Engineering section on the academic departments page.


In their first year of the E3 insititue, sophomores will participate in a summer camp to excite and introduce the students into the engineering design proces. Their coursework will expose them to the field of engineering, specifically: what engineering is, what engineers do, and the variety of different types of engineering. Students will learn and apply the engineering design process and follow it to create solutions to design challenges. Students will also learn some basic CAD and machining skills necessary to produce models and prototypes for their solutions. Students will work as teams on design challenges and give presentations of their solutions. The cohort will spend a day at Target Corporation, meeting with engineers and learning about their education, interests and how they apply their education, skills and talents to their job.


Junior cohort members will participate in a summer camp at the University of St. Thomas that focuses on design challenges in electronics and rocketry. In their Engineering 2 class, students continue to explore engineering specialties and occupations. Students will apply their knowledge and skills learned in Engineering 1 on four major team projects throughout the semester. Emphasis will be placed on following the engineering design process to come up with creative solutions to challenges presented to them. Projects will be chosen from a variety of engineering fields, and their solutions will be tested through the use of models and prototypes created through a variety of manufacturing processes, including the use of the 3D printer and laser cutter, Arduinos, and fabrication using shop equipment. Students continue to develop their presentation skills with each project and become more comfortable with technical writing. Juniors have the opportunity to meet with engineers at Medtronic Operational Headquarters, tour their labs and facilities and learn about the variety of engineering types and professionals who work for the company.


In their final year of the E3 Institute, seniors will participate in coursework to take an engineering project from conception to completion. They will publicly present their project and findings to a larger audience. The process will involve conceptualizing, designing, testing, modifying, presenting a functioning product or system.

Information for Interested Students

Who should apply to the E3 Institute?

The E3 Institute is open to all current students in 9th grade, specifically who have an interest in the field of engineering. The Institute is looking for students who have a diversity of skills, interests, backgrounds and abilities. Students who like math or science, hands-on learning, creative problem solving and the ability to communicate to a variety of groups are highly encouraged to apply.  The Institute strongly encourages females to apply for the program. With diverse backgrounds, abilities and skills, the E3 Institute will be a rich and vibrant experience for all who are involved.

What skills will I develop?

Here is just a short list of skills that you will develop as a part of the E3 Institute:

  • creativity
  • problem-solving
  • creative critical thinking
  • teamwork
  • presentation and communication skills
  • ability to build and construct models
  • application of math and science skills
  • computer aided drafting
  • coding

How many years will I be involved with the Institute?

The E3 Institute is a 3-year program where a group of students will work throughout the various components. Each year, the group of students will take a one-semester engineering course, as well as other Institute requirements (4 years of math and science, participation in seminars / enrichment activities and field trips, collaboration with a professional mentor, and an engineering-related job shadowing experience). The Institute will begin with a seminar during the summer before sophomore year.

What is the application process?

Information Session
Program directors lead an information session for interested freshmen and their parents/guardians in January.

The online application form is made available following the meeting and must be submitted by the identified deadline.

Recommendation Form
Students must ask a teacher to complete a recommendation form. Students are advised to give ample time for teachers to complete and submit the form.

Applicants will be invited to participate in an interview with program directors to discuss the student's interest, skills, and past experiences. Interviews will take place in February. 

Students will be notified of their acceptance into the E3 Institute prior to course registration completion in February.

Newsweek announced its ranking of the top 5,000 STEM high schools for 2019, honoring excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Totino-Grace was recognized among these excellent programs across the nation.

Totino-Grace President, Dr. Craig Junker, shares, "One of the most exciting programs we offer to our students is the E3 Engineering Institute. The program sparks a creative and thoughtful approach to academics, personal development, and future planning and preparation. This program is special. The mentoring component provides a relational experience that sets it apart. What is more, our E3 students are actively engaged in their own learning, exploring, collaborating, and problem solving."

With its long history of reporting on scientific breakthroughs, technological revolutions, and societal challenges, Newsweek partnered with to rank America’s Best STEM High Schools. The list includes schools in every region of the country that offer skilled teachers who keep up with developments in these fields and who create dynamic learning environments to engage their students.

The top 5,000 schools were curated from Educational Research™ (SER) using a proprietary scoring logic that took into consideration a broad set of quantitative and qualitative data inputs collected from Q2 2015–Q3 2019. The purpose was to determine which primary/secondary institutions in America best offer students experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)—as defined by the Congressional Research Service—while preparing them for post‐secondary outcomes. Additional factors, including affluence and median household income, were taken into consideration in compiling the rankings. 

“Children don’t realize it, but they’re natural STEM students,” says Nancy Cooper, Newsweek Global Editor in Chief. “We need to make sure that innate drive, curiosity, and creativity aren’t lost along the way. These high schools are helping to ensure America’s future in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is in good hands.”

Contact the Academic Office

Cheri Broadhead

Dan Vandermyde
Assistant Principal

Di Larson
Academic Assistant
763-571-9116 ext. 203

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