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BTC’s manufacturing facility takes shape quickly in Milton

By Shaun Zinck – MILTON — The new Blackhawk Technical College advanced manufacturing facility in Milton is on schedule and on budget, said college President Tom Eckert.

A year ago in February the college announced it had leased a building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs.

Work began on half of the building in the fall with plans to move three programs by the 2014-15 academic year. Eckert said about 50,000 square feet of the 105,000-square-foot building is currently being remodeled.

“We are putting in general classroom in the front of the building for general education course. Also that is where the office complex will be located for staff,” he said. “Each of the labs will also have their own specialized classrooms.”

Once work is complete this summer, equipment will be transferred over to the building just in time for students in the welding, industrial maintenance and precision machining (CNC) to occupy that half of the building this fall. Work on the second half will continue during the academic year, Eckert said.

The other programs — heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration technician, mechanical design technology, industrial engineering technician and computer systems technology — will start holding classes in the 2015-16 academic year.

Gary Kohn, marketing and communications manager for the college, said the new space will bring all the programs closer together to allow for more collaborative projects between the students.

“So you might have a CNC student working with a welding student working with an industrial maintenance student,” he said.

Kohn said a lab station will be built as a connection between another building during the second phase of construction and renovation.

The entire renovation cost will be about $12 million, Eckert said. He said nothing unexpected has come up during the first phase of renovations.

“They did a really great job predicting exactly what it would take to do the job,” he said.

The welding program at BTC has been in high demand as of late. The college had to add a third welding section in order to increase the number of students it could admit into the program. The college currently has about 105 welding students in three different sections. The new facility will double the capacity for the programs, however, that doesn’t mean double the students just yet, Eckert said.

“We don’t know how many students (the building will hold),” he said. “We are still in decision-mode on what shifts we will have for each program.”

The college entered into a 10-year lease at the location, and can exercise two five-year renewals. Last year, the college said it would pay about $1.47 per square foot for the lease space or about $155,125 for the first year. The second year the rate increases to about $2.88 per square foot or about $302,688 per year.

Prior to choosing the Milton location the college looked into locating the facility at the Ironworks campus in Beloit. Funding the project proved too costly, Eckert said at the time.

Read more: From beloitdailynews.com: "BTC's manufacturing facility takes shape quickly in Milton"

NTC tells Chequamegon School Board about dual credit opportunities

At its regular meeting in Glidden on February 25, the Chequamegon School Board heard a report from Bobbi Damrow, Regional Dean of Northcentral Technical College (NTC). Damrow gave background on the relationship that has developed between the NTC Phillips campus and Chequamegon School District over the last few years giving CHS students the opportunity to take classes that are recognized both by NTC for their degree programs and by CHS toward their high school diploma.

Currently junior and senior students are offered courses in the Industrial Electronics and Maintenance Technician Academy. This program is intended to provide a pathway or career for students in the industrial electronics maintenance field. The classes, taken at CHS, are taught by CHS teachers utilizing curriculum provided by NTC. Students have the potential of obtaining 12 college credits and applying those credits toward an associate’s degree at NTC after high school. Students also have the option of transferring the credits earned in high school to other four-year college or university’s toward completing their bachelor’s degree.

Damrow thanked the school board for approving and supporting this cooperative venture that benefits both the school district and NTC. She pointed out, “Last year Chequamegon students earned the equivalent of 153 college-level credits and the families of those students saved $20,574 in tuition costs that they would otherwise have paid to NTC for the courses.” This year students, and their families, are on track to save over $46,000 in tuition costs. In addition to the Academy, courses taught for transcripted credit include Introduction to Business, Marketing Principles, Desktop Publishing, and Employment Skills for Technicians, to name a few. Next year and new Health Academy will be introduced to CHS students who have an interest in pursuing a career in the health field. This will build on the Medical Terminology and Body Structure courses already offered and include a possible summer field experience at Flambeau Hospital.

Damrow indicated that an Information Technology Academy is currently being developed to be introduced in the not too distant future. Board president Adam Hoffman stated, “This partnership with NTC is an example of how two schools working together can provide great opportunities for our students and their families.”

Read more: From pricecountydaily.com: "School Board learns of transcripted credit classes for CHS students"

Tractor safety courses planned at LTC

Lakeshore Technical College is offering two Tractor Safety for Youth courses that will address both tractor/farm implement safety and farm-related safety practices. The first session will be held on Saturdays, March 29 through April 26; the second session will be held May 17, June 9, June 11 and June 13. The class will be held at LTC’s Cleveland campus in the Agriculture and Energy Building.

The course is intended for youth ages 13 and older. It will prepare participants for successfully completing the Wisconsin written exam and tractor driving demonstration toward certification that permits 14-year-olds to drive on public roads and work for non-family farm operations.

The course meets child labor requirements in agriculture under the Fair Labor Standards Act pertaining to employment of youth ages 14 and older on farms not operated by their parents or guardians.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany the student for the first two hours of the first class. The fee is $139, which includes the book.

The registration deadline is 10 days prior to the first day of class. Class size is limited to 20 students, and early registration is encouraged. To register, call 1-888-468-6582, ext. 1366.

Read more: From sheboyganpress.com: "Traffic safety courses planned at LTC"

CVTC will help recognize high school students for Extra Effort

If you want a lesson in resiliency, you don’t have to look far. Just point yourself in the direction of the nearest school, where many kids provide daily examples.

For instance: students who come from split families and single-part families, who have had to deal with tragedy and loss; students who have had to work through communication barriers that impacted their studies; and students who have persevered through cancer diagnosis and other health ailments.

It is our goal to tell several of these inspirational stories in the coming weeks as part of a program called Extra Effort that we are launching in the Chippewa Valley. The program will honor high school seniors who have overcome challenges or provided exemplary service to the community, often with little recognition.

Extra Effort is about students on the verge of adulthood who have tales of struggle, illness and survival, or of making a dedicated effort to give back to the community. Their road hasn’t typically been an easy one. They likely aren’t star athletes or valedictorians. They probably don’t have perfect grades. But many of them have overcome tremendous odds, and the one thing they all have in common is the way they can inspire.

All area high schools have been invited to take part. The Chippewa Herald and our sister paper, the Dunn County News in Menomonie, will publish profiles of a student from each school in the coming weeks. Our first one will appear in Monday’s Herald.

We are partnering in this program with the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College, to recognize and provide some scholarship assistance to the Extra Effort winners. The three institutions will take turns in hosting a spring reception for the students who are chosen to represent their schools. This year’s reception will be hosted by UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday, May 21.

Extra Effort is based on a program that our fellow Lee papers in La Crosse and Winona, Minn., in conjunction with its higher ed institutions, have been operating for several years. The program has been extremely well received by the public and the educational community.

“We’re very fortunate to develop this dynamic partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Stout and UW-Eau Claire to honor some high school seniors who have overcome obstacles or provided exemplary service to their communities,” Herald Publisher Rusty Cunningham said. “Our programs in La Crosse and Winona have recognized and provided scholarship help to some courageous students who otherwise wouldn’t have received the recognition they deserve,” Cunningham said.

It is our plan to make Extra Effort a beloved yearly tradition in the Chippewa Valley, just as it has become in the River Valley.

“I can honestly say that this program tops my list as a favorite part of my career, because this recognition is nothing less than life-changing for these kids and an inspiration for us all,” says Patty Shepard, a counselor at Holmen High School. She said she could probably name every one of her school’s recipients and is in contact with many of them, all of whom continue to succeed.

“The Extra Effort program is an incredible endeavor that connects the area businesses and post-secondary institutions with our schools and most importantly, highlights the value of our youth through their incredible stories. We are so very privileged to be part of this program,” Shepard said.

We are privileged to be able to tell the stories of our 2014 Extra Effort recipients. They are deserving of your time, just as the subjects are deserving of your admiration.

Read more: From chippewa.com: "Herald, Dunn County News launch Extra Effort program"

Tax cuts could change tech college funding

A proposed tax cut could affect the way area technical colleges are funded.

Earlier this week, the state senate approved Governor Scott Walker’s plan to use the state surplus to cover $504-million in tax cuts.

Under the changes technical colleges would get more than $400-million from the state’s budget surplus- meaning homeowners would pay less toward funding schools like Chippewa Valley Technical College.

“From our point of view as a system it really brings us some balance in the system in terms of where our funds come from,” Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said.

Foy says the changes to buy down homeowners property taxes using the state’s surplus would mean more balance when it comes to funding schools.

“With this change happening in 2015 we would go back we would have greater balance state aid would account for 45-percent of our operating costs as opposed to 10-percent,” Foy explained.

What the cuts would mean for the average home owner and tax payers is more money in their pocket.

“For a typical working family in the state it means their property taxes will be down more than 100 dollars and it means there withholding the amount they see in their paycheck will actually go up by over 500 dollars through the end of the year,” Governor Scott Walker said.

Governor Walker says in addition to the shift in funding due to the budget surplus, the state will also give a one-time payment of $35-million to technical colleges to help cut down on the amount of time it takes to enroll in classes.

“There was $35-million available in the Wisconsin Economic Development budget and we shifted that into helping our technical colleges buying down our wait list,” Walker said.

Despite the increased money to technical colleges, area Democrats say it still doesn’t make up for the deep cuts that were made in the past year.

“It doesn’t address a few things. The first is it doesn’t address the fact that there was $72-million cut last year,” State Representative Dana Wachs said.

The tax cut bill now heads to the state assembly for a vote on March 18th. If approved it would head to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Read more: From weau.com: "Tax cuts could change tech school funding"

Police recruits aim to improve community relations

By Geoff Bruce – The most recent recruits of Blackhawk Technical College’s Police Recruit Academy are stretching their legs and building some bridges.

The first ever “Miles for a Message” campaign is the brainchild of the most recently graduated class of academy recruits, Class 13-64.

“The recruits decided that they wanted to do something. These people want to become law enforcement officers, not just study about it,” Blackhawk Technical College Recruit Academy Coordinator Doug Anderson said.

Miles for a Message will take place April 5 and consist of two halves. The first will be a relay run beginning at 8 a.m. consisting of many runners teaming up to conquer the 26.2-mile course. The morning jaunt will start from Blackhawk Technical College’s Central Campus, 6004 S. County Road G, between Beloit and Janesville, and will head south to Beloit before winding through the city to pass by nearly all of its schools. The run will conclude at the Rotary River Center in Riverside Park in Beloit.

Following the morning run will be an afternoon organization fair. The fair will run from approximately 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Rotary River Center. The purpose of the fair is to introduce citizens to all of the organizations in the area that may be able to help in difficult times. Police academy graduate Bryanne Tudor says that one ultimate goal of the event is to promote good relations between citizens and law enforcement.

“(My class) all talked about it and we realized a lot of underprivileged people don’t really know the resources available to them,” Tudor said. “As law enforcement, it’s important to us for people to know their resources.”

There is no charge for organizations wishing to take part in the event. For more information on either portion of the event, interested parties can contact Tudor at 608-436-6869.

So far, a handful of organizations have signed up to participate in the organization fair following the run including the City of Beloit, Town of Beloit, and Town of Turtle Police Departments, as well as the Rock County Sheriff’s Department.

“I think that each generation of police officers will see this grow in importance. There can no longer be that disconnection of guys just riding around in squad cars and only connecting when someone’s in need or in trouble,” Anderson said. “We need to get officers out of the car and taking the time to interact with people.”

The event’s first half will also raise money for two Stateline Area organizations via pledges. Runners who sign up to run a leg of the 26.2-mile relay will collect at least $75 in pledges and will be able to sign up to run as much, or as little, as they want.

Benefiting from the funds raised by the pledges will be Project 16:49 and the Merrill Community Center.

“Project 16:49 has really taken off, especially with the opening of their new house. I think that they tackle an issue we all need to be aware of,” Tudor said. “As for Merrill, it’s just been a great organization for so long and we really wanted to show support for it.”

Project 16:49 opened its first house to provide long-term residence for homeless teens last month. Executive Director Tammy DeGarmo says that things with the Robin House are going well so far.

“We’ve had almost everything we need for the house donated to us. We’ve had so many people want to volunteer and help out,” DeGarmo said. “We’re excited for this because it’s not easy to take the time to organize an event and right now we’re very busy with the Robin House and helping our other kids. So to have them put this on for us is wonderful.”

Merrill Community Center Executive Director Regina Dunkin recently participated in a panel at Beloit College regarding the incarceration problem in Wisconsin. Prior to that forum, she made points echoing Tudor’s desires to build bridges between law enforcement and citizens. She stood by those remarks Monday.

“I think it’s another opportunity to show the humanity of police officers,” Dunkin said. “Often we hear from kids that they have negative ideas about police because they’ve gotten in trouble or their parents have gotten in trouble. This is a way to change that perception and show that police officers are people too.”

Like DeGarmo, Dunkin was flattered by the decision by the recruits’ to make Merrill Community Center one of the beneficiaries.

“It’s just wonderful. We don’t always have people in the community willing to take the initiative on things like this for us,” Dunkin said. “It’s really going to help us in continuing to serve the children and families of the center.”

Participants who wish to have a running buddy can sign up together. Runners are not responsible for finding and fielding an entire team to run the 26.2 miles.

“Once we have all the sign-ups, we’ll sort people into teams to make sure that the distances that people want to run add up to 26.2 miles,” Tudor said. “If you have someone you want to run with you can write that down and we’ll make sure you get to.”

The run will pass by over a dozen schools in the Beloit area including Turner High School, Rock County Christian High School, and Beloit Memorial High School.

Throughout the morning, teams will go over the Rock River a couple of times. But whether it be at White, Henry, or Grand Avenue, if Tudor and her colleagues have their way, there will be plenty more crossings on a lot more bridges in the days to come.

Read more: From beloitdailynews.com: "Police recruits aim to improve community relations"

Governor visits CVTC manufacturing event

How technology is used in manufacturing was the major focus of a show at CVTC Thursday.

The manufacturing show featured more than 20 companies and a number of programs at the college. It also included a junkyard battle competition where area high school students showcased their talents.

Governor Scott Walker was at the event to see all the college had to offer. He said it’s great to have the connection between the technical college and area high schools to show younger students the opportunities available after graduation.

“It’s amazing to see the things they make, really incredible work, and its great to see all the high schoolers coming by to see the opportunities in manufacturing,” said Governor Scott Walker.

More than 40 regional manufacturing businesses were also at the event to talk to guests about career opportunities.

View video from weau.com

Read more: From weau.com: "Walker attends Manufacturing Show at Chippewa Valley Technical College"

Student success part of the culture at NWTC

Editor’s note: This article continues a series profiling nominees of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2014 Awards of Excellence. Featured this week are the four finalists in the category of student success. Winners in each of the six categories will be announced at the AACC Annual Convention next month.

At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), student success is more than a concept – it’s a part of the culture. The college’s Dream…Learn It. Live It initiative ensures that student success is woven into every facet of the student experience.

Every employee at NWTC is responsible for finding ways to help students master their courses, remain in college and complete some kind of credential.

“For people who are willing to work and earn that credential, helping them succeed is both a smart policy and the right choice,” said NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn.

Program advisors work with students from application through graduation. Four-week courses allow students to concentrate on one subject at a time while maintaining full-time status. Supplemental learning with academic coaches and tutors is available for the most difficult courses. Struggling students are identified earlier and directed to the appropriate student services.

To help students struggling financially, college employees created a food pantry, a second-hand clothing store and an employee giving campaign on campus.

What the data show

The college also improved the quality of its data, allowing for more informed decision-making.

This transformation at NWTC wasn’t always easy or comfortable — systems and assumptions had to be changed — but college leaders, faculty and staff have found ways to turn challenges into triumphs.

“The business intelligence available to us has been significantly redesigned so that we can see what helps students succeed and where they may fall through the cracks,” said Matthew Petersen, associate dean for general studies at the college.

Read more: From cctimes.com: "Making success part of the college culture"

Southwest Tech health clinic opens in Fennimore

Prairie du Chien Memorial Health Clinic-Fennimore opened Monday in the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College campus’ Health Sciences building.

Nurse practitioner Peggy Barton will serve as the clinic’s primary provider. Barton has worked 32 years in nursing and has 19 years of experience as a nurse practitioner, certified in women’s health and family care, with an interest in diabetes.

Primary care services offered at the new clinic include annual health and wellness visits, health promotion and maintenance, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, general consultation and referral.

Dental services and behavioral health services will be added later this year.

Read more: From lacrossetribune.com: "Southwest Tech, PdC Memorial open Fennimore clinic"

FVTC transportation center opens

— Automotive students at Fox Valley Technical College have made themselves at home in the newly expanded J. J. Keller Transportation Center.

With the goal of helping to meet a growing demand for automotive careers, the school enlarged the facility by more than 20,000 square feet. The $6.2 million addition created 10 learning bays for automotive programs; three drive-through learning bays for diesel programs; classrooms; an instruction bay for the school’s truck driving program; and a learning bay for a trailer technician program.

The bigger transportation center is the third of five major building projects completed at FVTC so far since 2012, when voters approved $66.5 million in spending.

Aric Van Ess, a second-year diesel technology student from Cedar Grove, likes having more room and using new tools.

“There’s a lot more activities you can work on,” Van Ess said. “You’re not all bunched up working on a truck.”

Van Ess works part-time in the industry, and he sees the same things in the classroom that he does on the job. Students work on trucks that are driven on roads, so the problems they fix in school are the same ones they would see in the real world.

Van Ess plans to take courses in the new transport trailer service technician program after he completes the diesel technology area.

The new program is possible because of the extra square footage added to the facility and was started at the request of local industries, said Dan Poeschel, associate dean at FVTC.

The referendum allowed the automotive program to double in size, accommodating every student who enrolls. In the past, officials had to put students on waiting lists because there wasn’t enough room.

Most students will have jobs lined up immediately after graduation. FVTC automotive students who graduated last year have a combined job placement rate of 98 percent, according to figures provided by the college.

Poeschel said graduates can earn starting wages of $15 per hour or higher.

“[The addition] provides education and good jobs to students coming in who can really have a lifelong career in this industry,” he said.

Read more: From postcrescent.com: "Fox Valley Tech opens expanded transportation center to fill industry need"

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