Diverse group of four male and female students in cafe


Applied learning, also referred to hands-on learning, is the process where students integrate classroom learning with real-world experiences or situations. In short, it is the chance to practice what you have learned.

Your education includes not only classroom learning but also real-world experience. At the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence we understand that you need opportunities, challenges, and external validation of your academic learning. That is why we offer a wide range of hands-on learning opportunities.

As part of our mission, the ITCOE gives learning opportunities that take classroom work and brings it to real life. These opportunities are what set YOU ahead of the rest! By participating in Hands-On Learning events you will:

  1. Test your KSAs in a real–life environment
  2. Meet and work with peers in your industry
  3. Meet current industry leaders and professionals looking for new talent to join their teams
  4. Show your strong commitment to lifelong learning

The ITCOE offers a wide range of hands-on training and career readiness opportunities designed to test your knowledge, which will help lead you to be successful in your computer and technical careers.  The more you take advantage of this wide range of applied learning opportunities, the more you’ll show your dedication to understanding your skills.

Applied learning can happen in many ways:

  • Participation in one of the many Minnesota State Events structured for student learning
  • Other industry skill development events
  • Internships
  • Additional web based learning options

And so many others to apply your learning.

At Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence we call it BEING EPIC.

Be EPIC – Apply Your Learning

Explore – Find excellent career information, websites, scholarships, and professional associations to join!
Prepare – For your career, find out which soft skills employers want, and watch Career Readiness videos.
Involvement – In camps, competitions, workshops, events, and professional development trainings
Connect – Join a group, discuss innovative ideas, connect with employers, and apply for FUSION residencies and internships.


Do you have a passion for protecting computer systems, financial data, networks, and the hardware and software that make the modern world run? If so, gaining hands-on experience in cybersecurity protection is a must.

At Minnesota State IT COE we offer a number of events to test your knowledge and sharpen your skills.

Minnesota CCDC image

The MN Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) is part of Midwest Regional CCDC Qualifying Events. Students from across the Midwest compete first at the state level. The winners move to the CSSIA Regional Competition in Illinois with a chance to compete at the National CCDC Event in Texas.

Two-year and four-year Minnesota colleges and universities put together their top tech-savvy students to form teams to compete. These teams will build and defend their mock production business infrastructure from professional “hackers” who are given the challenge to take each team’s production systems offline and breach their security.  

While the teams work hard to fend off “hackers,” the competition judging staff will deploy network enhancement and upgrade challenges to teams. They’ll judge and score each team’s performance, as well as support the overall event.

Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

This annual competition, which takes place in February allows institutions of higher education to assess students’ understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting business IT networks.  It also gives students an opportunity to show off skills and add awesome experience to a resume!

The top three winning Minnesota teams are recognized at the Student 360 Conference and the first place team is eligible to compete in the  Midwest Regional CCDC and progress to the National CCDC.

Bootcamp – Week Long Cybersecurity Emergent

Engage with and learn hands-on from IT industry professionals, using real-world security and forensic tools and tactics to identify and thwart cybersecurity threats, visit top companies to experience innovative security teams in action, and interact directly with entrepreneurs and company leaders of enterprises actively seeking IT talent.

At CSi Boot Camps, Information Technology/Security Technology students from Minnesota State institutions and the University of Minnesota engage with professionals to develop innovative skills in cyber defense, vulnerability analysis and testing, security operations, forensics, and application security. CSi Boot Campers also visit companies on employer-hosted field trips for networking and career success guidance. The last day includes a comprehensive assessment to validate the week-long development of cybersecurity skills.

This week-long learning event will give you a jump start in Certification Training as you gain experience and prepare yourself for this certification. You will have access to the learning materials for an extended period ahead of time allowing you to prepare, study, and take the Exam.

What is Student360?

Student360 is a student-focused event based off of the Secure360 Conference. The event is focused on offering professional advancement/career sessions, tech sessions and a career pavilion for recruiting and interviews. The event is hosted by the Upper Midwest Security Alliance (UMSA).

Sponsored by:

Data Science & Analytics

Do you have a passion for working with numbers and spreadsheets, managing data, creating data stories, or developing visualizations using numbers and items? If so, you will want to take advantage of the many opportunities to test your skills by participating in the Minnesota State IT COE events or participating in one of the other events offered throughout the State of Minnesota.

The Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence hosts the annual Data Derby Minnesota. This multidisciplinary competition is open to students at all Minnesota State institutions, which allows student teams to compete and present data-driven answers to defined problems and societal issues.

The competition includes two challenge events:

  • A 6-week extended DATATHON and
  • A same-day DATAGON sprint


Student Teams

Students (undergraduate and graduate) from all Minnesota colleges and universities enrolled in any major, and especially from information technology, computer science, management information systems, business/management, mathematics, and statistics-related programs, can form a team.  Basically anyone with a passion for being a data detective!


Knowledge and Skills

The Data Derby challenge events provide opportunities to showcase your ability to address data challenges as you see fit.  Programming or SQL knowledge is helpful but not essential to winning in the Data Derby. You may use any use any openly available tool or application including:

  • Spreadsheets
  • Statistical packages
  • Common programming languages (such as Java, Python, and SQL)
  • Visualization tools (such as Tableau and SAP) packages
  • Common office productivity tools (such as Microsoft Office Suite)


DATATHON: 6 weeks to develop a comprehensive data story

  • DATATHON begins in early spring when student teams are given access to DATATHON challenge questions and datasets.
  • Teams have approximately 6 weeks to work on a comprehensive data story addressing all challenge questions.
  • Teams are permitted to use additional, freely accessible datasets of their choosing.
  • On the day of the Data Derby, your team will present your data story to industry experts and faculty members serving as judges.



The Datathon challenge will involve solving a real-world problem using provided data sets.  You will be asked to address questions about daily operations as well as solve strategic problems.  The datasets range from 50,000 to 300,000 records shared as downloadable csv files using Dropbox.com.


Bootcamp – Week Long DATA Science and Analytics Emergent

Engage with and learn hands-on from DATA industry professionals, using real-world data problems, tools, and software to apply your learning of data management, mining, exploration, wrangling, modeling, visualization and storytelling.

At Data Boot Camps, multidisciplinary students from Minnesota State institutions engage with professionals to develop in-depth skills in data wrangling, modeling and visualization. Students also hear from current graduate students and industry leaders, and visit companies on employer-hosted field trips for networking and career success guidance. The last day includes a comprehensive assessment to validate the week-long development of data science and analytics skills.

Applications to attend Data Bootcamp open early Spring and attendance is awarded by March.

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