Updated: 05/30/2014 5:34 PM
Created: 05/29/2014 4:32 PM KSTP.com
By: Naomi Pescovitz
Between Medtronic, 3M, St. Jude Medical, Mayo Clinic and Boston Scientific, Minnesota is often considered the world's leader in medical technology. As the industry expands, the need for qualified employees and executives is also growing.
This week, the University of Minnesota launched its Masters of Science in Medical Device Innovation program through the Technological Leadership Institute. The inaugural class started Wednesday with 18 students enrolled.
"It is making sure you are developing a program that is responsive to a major need in our ecosystem here, and is strategic," said Dr. Massoud Amin, Director of the Technological Leadership Institute.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jenna Birkeland is earning her Master's degree through the new program. Birkeland has a Bachelor's degree in chemistry from Hamline University and now works in a lab at Boston Scientific.
"The University can actually partner with industry leaders in the area and then create this for specific needs in the industry," Birkeland said.
The program is 8 1/2 years in the making, and the first class has students from California, Kenya and Japan.
"There is no identical program that gives you the ability to go deep and wide at the same time," Amin said.
According to LifeScience Alley, the medical technology industry employs more than 250,000 Minnesotans. The industry is projected to expand by more than 30 percent, from $164 billion in 2010 to $228 billion by 2015.
"In my career I want to advance and I want to take on leadership roles," Birkeland said.
The degree includes courses in management, regulation, finance, risk assessment and policy.
"Giving them the tools that they can take to apply and develop, grow jobs in Minnesota," Amin said.
The 14 month course costs $37,500 and the University is hoping the next class will be even bigger. The next round of students will begin classes at this same time next year.
To learn more about the program, click here.