Cooper Power Systems partners with WCTC for employee training
February 12, 2014
Every time someone turns on a light or fires up their office computer, there’s a good chance that a Cooper Power Systems electrical transformer or another of the company’s products was part of the process.
Since 2012, Cooper has been part of Eaton Corp., a power management company with $22 billion in sales in 2013.
Eaton, based in Dublin, Ireland, has 102,000 employees and sells products in more than 175 countries. This week, the company said it was expanding and upgrading its Cooper Power Systems plants in Waukesha that make electrical equipment including power transformers and voltage regulators.
The $54 million project will create up to 200 jobs over the next two years, according to Eaton, as the company expands its Badger Drive plant and upgrades its North St. and Lincoln Ave. plants.
“The reason we are investing in the expansion in our facilities is to help meet the growing demand we are seeing, not only from our utility customers, but also from the commercial and industrial customer base,” said Clayton Tychkowsky, president of the Cooper Power Systems division.
Eaton has a wide range of products including truck transmissions, aircraft fuel systems and electrical systems.
Last week, the company said its fourth-quarter revenue rose 28%, boosted by higher demand for electrical products and systems.
Electrical product sales jumped 57% to $1.8 billion in the recent quarter ended Dec. 31.
Demand picked up in multiple areas including data processing centers, commercial construction and the oil and gas industry.
“One thing all those fields have in common is they require products to help transmit power to a usable point in their electrical system,” Tychkowsky said.
Eaton also stands to benefit from an increase in residential construction because the utility companies that provide power to homes use Cooper products.
“We see long-term potential growth for the products we manufacture here, which is why we feel this is a good investment,” Tychkowsky said about the plant expansion and upgrades.
Last April, Eaton announced it was cutting nearly two-thirds of its 260 jobs in Pewaukee.
The reductions included 130 production and 33 salaried positions as the company said it was moving molded rubber manufacturing from Pewaukee to a plant in Querétaro, Mexico, this year.
The job cuts were unrelated to the Waukesha plants, and the Pewaukee employees will get first preference in the Waukesha hiring, according to Eaton.
As part of the hiring, the company has partnered with Waukesha County Technical College to provide job training.
“We are taking a proactive approach as opposed to sitting back and waiting for talent to be available for us,” Tychkowsky said.
The expansion on Badger Drive will include 55,000 square feet of new manufacturing space.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is providing up to $1.36 million in tax credits for the expansion and plant upgrades, which are tied to the new jobs.
“Retention of sound businesses like this is something we all need to pay attention to. There are other opportunities in the nation for a company like Eaton to move out of state,” said Reed Hall, WEDC secretary and chief executive officer.
Wisconsin also benefits from the electrical products, according to Hall.
“Safe, reliable electrical power is critical to growth. It’s like broadband. There are a couple of things businesses absolutely have to have to consider expanding in our state,” Hall said.
When nursing students at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC’s) River Falls campus are working on a training scenario with one of the college’s high-tech simulation mannequins, they can rely only on their own knowledge and instincts. There’s no glancing over at an instructor in search of a nod of approval for a chosen course of action.
The instructor is watching from a separate room, behind glass that students cannot see through. She listens, observes and controls the simulator to react accordingly to what the students do — good or bad.
“This is more realistic than it was before,” said student Anna Hinde, originally from Barron. “We are able to have some hands-on, real-life experiences.”
“We have a lot more space, there are more mannequins, and we’ve got a new teaching lab,” added Colin McConville of Hudson.
Use of computerized simulation mannequins — which breathe, react, and have vital signs like real patients — has been part of the CVTC Nursing program at River Falls for years. However, the new simulation lab that opened in January is a vast improvement over the previous facility.
“Our environment here is more representative of an actual hospital room,” said Simulation Technician Cynthia Anderson, R.N. “The old lab was about half the size of one room in the new lab and had a noisy air compressor in the room to run the mannequins. Our air compressor is now in another room.”
The mannequins were previously placed on something like old hospital gurneys. Now there are real hospital beds for the mannequins and sometimes live people playing patients.
“We’re not tripping on cords anymore,” said Bethany Geske, a Nursing student who lives in Menomonie, in reference to the power cords to the equipment that used to be taped down and are now under the floor.
The lighting is far better and includes a large window to provide natural light, but set high enough to prevent outside distractions and watchers.
Even small details, like the addition of an in-lab telephone, are important. Students sometimes have to call a doctor or pharmacist (played by an instructor) from the simulator bedside. “They get the experience of calling the physician, and learning how to speak with the physician,” said Anderson, an RN since 1990 with years of experience at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn.
An adjacent Learning Resource Center (LRC) for the Nursing program is also an important addition. The center is equipped with smaller artificial body parts like arms, hands and heads. Students practice skills such as making injections and inserting intravenous needles. For CVTC Nursing students, doing homework involves more reading a textbook.
“I’ve used it on occasion to practice skills like suctions and inserting catheters,” McConville said.
Mother and child
Another major addition to the program this term is “Noel,” a birth mother simulator. The mannequin actually simulates the birth of a little rubber baby newborn, with realistic vital signs and potential problems for the mother.
“The baby can be born breach, with a stuck shoulder, or with respiratory difficulty,” Anderson said, mentioning just some of the complications.
A newborn infant simulator, separate from the rubber birth baby, is also new. It shows vital signs and reacts like the adult models. A newborn baby can have a bluish hue, which is normal and soon fades. The simulator is sophisticated enough for instructors to prolong the bluish tint and observe when students notice it as a matter of concern.
“We didn’t have the baby mannequin before this year,” said Natalie Miranda, a student from Lakeland, Minn. “We would have to drive to Eau Claire to do that.”
Sometimes a birth mother and baby were brought from Eau Claire, but transportation and set-up are cumbersome, Anderson said.
Nursing students go out into the field to do “clinical” studies at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, but the simulation lab work is an essential part of the training.
“It allows them to experience things differently,” said Jennifer Buekema, a CVTC Nursing instructor. “In a clinical situation, we of course don’t let students harm patients. Here, we can let the students make mistakes in the lab.”
“They set up scenarios that we may not see in the real-life clinical settings, but can see later in our professional lives,” said Miranda.
The instructor from the observation room can demonstrate with the mannequin the consequences, through a sudden change in vital signs, evidence of pain, and even a “code blue” cardiac arrest.
“A couple of weeks ago, we were in a code blue, when we had to do CPR,” Geske said.
The students say this kind of hands-on experience is one of the reasons they chose to attend CVTC. It allows them to be ready to enter the workforce right away, even if their plans include further education.
Geske, McConville and Hinde plan on getting nursing jobs after their May graduation, but going back to school to seek four-year or advanced degrees gaining experience as they complete their education.
CVTC hosts financial aid application assistance session
February 11, 2014
Eau Claire – Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) will be hosting a College Goal Wisconsin event Sunday, Feb. 23, to assist students with financial aid for enrollment in any two-or four-year college in the next academic year. The event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Casper Conference Center in the Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire. Students who attend have a chance to win scholarships.
College Goal Wisconsin is a national event that provides free information and assistance to families who are filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the federally required form for students seeking financial aid, such as grants and loans. Completing the FAFSA is the first and most important step in qualifying for aid.
Volunteers from area colleges and universities will help students complete the application process. In addition to staff from CVTC, volunteers from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, Globe University, and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will assist.
Students should attend with a parent or guardian, if possible. A list of materials, including tax returns and financial records, that families should bring can be found at http://www.collegegoalwi.org. Independent students need only bring their own financial information.
The CVTC College Goal Wisconsin event is one of 29 to be held throughout the state Feb. 22-23 and Feb. 26. Students who submit or save a FAFSA and complete a survey at the event will be entered into a statewide drawing for scholarships ranging from $250 to $1,000.
Dental pros, students, work to ‘Give Kids a Smile’
February 10, 2014
EAU CLAIRE — Alyxandria Lunemann clutched her stuffed animals tight and opened her mouth. The 6-year-old girl was nervous about having cavities filled, her mother, Janice Lunemann, said. Dr. Walter Turner’s chairside manner put her at ease, though.
Janice was happy to bring Alyxandria to Chippewa Valley Technical College from their New Auburn home on Friday for the Give Kids a Smile event at the CVTC Dental Clinic. The cavities had been diagnosed previously, but she was having trouble getting Alyxandria in to see a dentist to have them filled.
That’s what Give Kids a Smile is for. Sponsored nationwide by the American Dental Association and locally by the Chippewa Valley Dental Society and the Wisconsin Dental Association, the event offers free dental care to children ages 2-13. This is CVTC’s ninth year hosting the event locally.
The event is particularly helpful for families who lack dental insurance and can’t afford to pay for dental care on their own.
“There is an access-to-care issue,” said Pam Entorf, CVTC dental program instructor. “There is a shortage of dentists who are able to take patients who don’t have insurance or can’t pay. For many of these kids, this is the only time they get any sort of dental treatment. That’s why this event is so important.”
Helping at the event were the CVTC dental hygienist program students and instructors, professional dentists from around the Chippewa Valley, and hygienists and assistants from their staffs. The stars of the show, though, are the young patients.
“I’m pretty happy to be here,” said Janice Lunemann. “Alyxandria had gummy snacks when she was younger and it created some issues with her teeth, but she flosses well.”
Brian Insteness of Lake Hallie brought his 11-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, who had an x-ray taken by Joe Granica, a hygienist with North Lakes Dental in Hayward.
“We don’t have dental insurance, so we take advantage of this,” Insteness said. “She’s getting her check-up and we’ll go from there.”
The kids treated leave with more than healthier teeth. They also take home information and advice. The day is also about education — for children and for the next generation of dental care professionals.
“Childhood dental decay is a communicable, infectious disease,” said Entorf, pointing out that if one child in a family has decay, the bacteria that causes it could spread to other children. “It’s important to teach children as young as possible about how to take care of their teeth so they don’t have problems as they get older.”
The student hygienists work on patients in regular clinic settings as well, but the Give Kids a Smile event is a much busier day, and teaches them that giving back to the community is part of all health care professions.
“A lot of the students who were graduates of the program here come back to volunteer. It’s like a class reunion,” Entorf said.
Turner, of Turner Pediatric Dentistry in Eau Claire, has been giving back through participation in Give Kids a Smile for 25 years.
“The technical college does a very good service for people and kids, and this facility is large enough to handle it,” he said. “I love doing it, and they like my service for the kids. I want to get them off to a right start.”
Scholarships available for blind, visually impaired
February 5, 2014
The Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired will award 13 $1,500 scholarships this year for full and part-time, blind or visually impaired post-secondary students enrolled or accepted in college and vocational/community school programs, according to a news release from the council.
Applicants must be high school graduates or returning students, carrying a full load of classes as defined by the institution they will attend, and have an accumulated GPA of at least 2.5; part-time students must verify their courses and schedules, according to the release. All applicants must have identified goals for the future, including eventual employment, and they must meet other scholarship requirements.
Go to www.wcblind.org for guidelines and an application. Submission deadline is is March 28; recipients will be notified by April 21, and scholarships will be presented at a Council event on May 10 in Madison.
After years of lagging behind other districts, the Youth Apprenticeship program in Oshkosh is getting a push from the school district and chamber of commerce to offer high school students work experience in a variety of careers.
The Oshkosh Area School District hasn’t historically had a strong apprenticeship program, because the curriculum wasn’t developed enough to meet their requirements or there weren’t employers to sponsor them.
Still, businesses in Oshkosh have consistently been involved in employing students through cooperative education programs, or co-ops, Julie Mosher, OASD director of curriculum and assessment, said. The youth apprenticeship program asks them to take that partnership to the next level.
Wisconsin’s YA program is part of a statewide school-to-work initiative and integrates school-based and work-based learning. Students are simultaneously enrolled in academic classes and employed locally under the supervision of a skilled, worksite mentor.
Oshkosh’s effort to expand apprenticeships comes at the same time that Gov. Scott Walker is pushing to increase funding for the programs. Walker announced in January that Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship, or YA, program would receive additional grants totaling more than $226,000, and Cooperative Educational Services Agency 6 in Oshkosh received $18,747 of those funds.
CESA 6 serves 42 schools in seven counties to coordinate programs and services between schools, districts and the state.
Tania Kilpatrick, CESA 6 career and technical education coordinator, said YA is an important opportunity for students to test drive a career.
“When you’re looking at a workforce, economics, building the pipeline of future employees,” she said. “Any opportunity that you can give kids options for education I think is important.”
Changes to the requirements for apprenticeship programs have changed, while the district’s strategic plan has an increased focus on ensuring students are college, career and community ready.
“With the new checklist and the new requirements that matched our curriculum and matched our philosophy a lot better,” Mosher said. “We felt that we could possibly start getting employers to match up with it.”
With that in mind, the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce stepped in to help create partnerships with local businesses.
Two apprenticeships were recently secured with Bergstrom Automotive.
Marc Stanga, a senior at Oshkosh West, is an apprentice at the Bergstrom GM division in Oshkosh. He works for a few hours each day after school and on Saturdays, where he’s learning alongside a mentor to become a GM-certified auto technician.
So far the 17-year-old has learned how to do oil and headlight changes, check fluids and more.
“It’s teaching me the basics of being an auto mechanic,” Stanga said, adding the mentor has been a key part to what he’s learning.
Stanga plans to attend Fox Valley Technical College, where he’s enrolled in the GM program.
“My whole life I’ve wanted to be an auto mechanic,” he said. He thinks the youth apprenticeship will be a big help to getting a job in the future and hopes to receive a scholarship from the program as well.
Stanga said he’s loving his apprenticeship because it’s really hands on.
“It’s like a paid internship,” he said. “You really can see if you really like to do what you were planning on doing.”
Stanga is also working on live cars in a lab at West for the curriculum part of his apprenticeship.
The college-level learning uses standards for 11 different areas that are put out from the national Automotive Service Excellence Certification, Mark Boushele, transportation technology instructor at West, said.
“The homework is all right in front of you,” he said. “So you actually see … the progress that you’re doing and working with.”
Apprenticeships have benefits for both students and employers.
Students gain a valuable, real-world connections between the curriculum and work. There’s no bad internship experience because of the skills one learns during it, Mosher and Patti Andresen-Shew, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce education and workforce coordinator, said.
Even if students end up not wanting to go into the career, it teaches the importance of showing up on time, flexibility and adaptability, as well as how to work under pressures and stress, Mosher said. Plus, learning they don’t like something can be just as important.
A long-term investment
YA is a heavier load for both students and employers than co-ops because of the mentorship requirement and need to complete a checklist of requirements laid out by the state. Many different scheduling factors have to line up in order for it to work, Mosher said, which is why co-ops have worked out better in Oshkosh in the past.
Juniors and seniors have to apply for the program, and then they have to nail an interview with the employer to get the position. The courses for the program have to fit with the high schools’ schedules, and that has to line up with lab, clinical or work schedules. Students also need to complete a certain amount of hours working on the job.
“All these stars have to align,” Mosher said.
Though it’s a commitment for employers to train, mentor and pay the students, in many cases it’s a long-term investment.
The State Department of Workforce Development said 85 percent of YA students are offered jobs at the end of apprenticeships, which can be more effective than finding workers through recruiters or advertising. Employers have said it also inspires current employees to be even better workers.
“We like to hire locally and have had great success hiring people early in their work life, who can then learn and become a part of our culture and grow with our company over the course of their career,” Tim Bergstrom, President and COO of Bergstrom Automotive, said in a statement.
“The Chamber and our local school system have come together to provide us with a unique opportunity to find just this type of candidate to become a potential long-term team member,” Bergstrom said.
YA is not limited to any one kind of career or student, Mosher said. There’s room for all Oshkosh students, whether they go on to a two or four-year school, into the military or directly into the workforce.
Mosher and Shew would like to see the program expand to include more career paths. Agriculture, communications, tourism, and information technology are just some of the possible programs listed on the Department of Workforce Development website.
Shew and Mosher are actively looking for more employers to participate in YA, as well as students who want to explore their interests in an apprenticeship setting.
Career exploration is the most important aspect of YA, they said.
“We want our students to explore their career options and have a plan,” she said. “That plan may change, but at least they have a plan and they’ve done some thinking behind it.”
Workforce Paradox conference coming to tech colleges
February 4, 2014
Wisconsin continues to battle the workforce paradox – high unemployment, yet employers desperately seeking qualified workers.
The WMC Foundation, in partnership with the Wisconsin Technical College System and all 16 Technical Colleges, is proud to highlight current workplace solutions and an early preview of a new initiative to establish a 20-year strategic plan for the state called – The Future Wisconsin Project.
Each session will include a panel presentation on innovative practices in K-12, college programming, and customized business solutions followed by discussion. There will be an optional college tour at some sites immediately following the program.
February 17 – Gateway Technical College, Kenosha.
February 19 – Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton.
February 21 – Blackhawk Technical College, Janesville.
February 25 – Western Technical College, La Crosse.
February 26 – Milwaukee Area Technical College.
March 3 – Northcentral Technical College, Wausau.
March 4 – Waukesha County Technical College.
March 6 – Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire.
March 7 – Indianhead Technical College, Rice Lake.
March 11 – Nicolet Technical College, Rhinelander.
March 13 – Mid-State Technical College, Wisconsin Rapids.
March 14 – Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland.
March 17 – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Green Bay.
March 18 – Moraine Park Technical College, Fond du Lac.
March 21 – Southwest Technical College, Fennimore.
March 27 – Madison College.
The cost to attend is $30/person; $20/person for WMC and/or local chamber members.
To register or for more information call 608.258.3400 or visit www.wmc.org.
Two farmers from Mid-State Technical College’s agriculture programs were recently selected to receive Centennial Merit Awards.
Kevin Spindler of Farm Business and Production Management and Trevor Peterson of the Farm Operation program earned the recognition last month.
“In honor of 100 years of technical education in central Wisconsin, the MSTC community wanted to provide special recognition to students within each of its 50-plus program who have demonstrated commitment to their education,” said MSTC Foundation and Alumni Director Chris Maguire.
The funds were provided by the MSTC Foundation Board of Directors.
Students were selected based on academics, attendance and leadership within the program, college and community.
Seeing the benefits
Spindler, who farms near Stratford, admits he wasn’t thrilled four years ago when he found out he’d be required to go back to school as a condition of a Farm Service Agency loan.
“I was forced to do it and didn’t know if I was going to get much out of the schooling or not,” Spindler said.
His father, Russ, who had studied production agriculture when he started farming in the 1970s, gave him a bit of advice.
“He said you’re going to get out of school what you put into it,” Spindler recalled. “So I went into it with an open mind.”
Now in his fourth year of the Farm Business and Production Management program, Spindler said he’s been pleasantly surprised.
The program, which spans six years, is designed for those already operating a farm and focuses on ways to maximize profits.
“Basically one year is for the beginning farmers, to get them up to speed in all agricultural areas,” instructor Mike Sabel said. “The succeeding five years each cover a specific topic, and those are soils, crops, nutrition, livestock management and finance.”
Students meet at remote locations throughout the technical college area for about three hours on one evening every other week.
“We have 10 classes a year over a period of 20 to 22 weeks in October through March,” he said.
Sabel stays connected with students through the summer with individual on-farm visits.
Spindler said the network he’s grown through class has been one of its biggest benefits.
“We glean a lot of ideas off each other,” he said. “Class is always an interesting experience, and everybody in class seems to have a real genuine open-door policy.”
Spindler milks 75 cows and raises 170 acres of crops on his Marathon County farm, which has been in his family for more than a century.
“Four years ago I started buying the cows and personal property from my parents,” Spindler said. “Last April I purchased the real estate.”
Spindler said he hopes to eventually retrofit a parlor in his tie-stall barn and build a free-stall to grow the herd to 150 or 200 head.
His brother, Ryan, is also active on the farm.
Spindler said his Mid-State classes have shown him the many options he has as he looks to the future.
“It’s been a great way to learn about different setups and what I can do differently,” he said.
Spindler and his fiancée, Beth Kolbeck, have two children, a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old, and are expecting a third addition in mid-February.
“Our hope is the kids may want to be a part of this someday,” he said. “If they do, we’ll grow to accommodate them.”
As for his merit award, Spindler said he was shocked to be chosen out of all the students in his program. He was surprised with the award as he walked into class one evening after rushing to get there after chores.
“If I’d known I was getting my picture taken, I’d have cleaned up a bit,” he joked.
Sabel said Spindler exemplifies the kind of student he likes to have in his program.
“He’s very open to information and really weighs the information he’s given to make the best decision possible,” Sabel said.
More importantly, Spindler isn’t shy about sharing what he’s learned with others.
“That’s how the entire program works so well,” said Sabel, a 25-year veteran of Farm Business and Production Management. “It’s that network they develop with other farmers that makes it so successful.”
Future of agriculture
Peterson, 20, farms with his parents, Dave and Cindy Peterson, near Marshfield.
He and his older brother, Michael, hope to gradually take over the farm, where they milk 75 cows and run 400 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa.
“We plan on expanding the herd next year and building a barn,” Peterson said, adding their current setup is a stanchion barn.
Though he doesn’t have any solid plans, Peterson said he’s considered investing in robotic milkers someday.
“One day it would be cool to have them,” he said. “They need to advance and get their flaws figured out first,” he said.
Though he grew up on the farm, Peterson said the knowledge he’s gained during the two-year Farm Operation Program — like his insight into robotics — has been invaluable.
The 36-week program, which takes a minimum of two years to complete, focuses on day-to-day farm operations. Each segment is broken into three six-week terms, running from November to April every school year. Classes are from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., working around chore schedules.
“It gives a great overview of everything that has to do with farming, from animal nutrition to crops and pesticides, manure credits,” he said. “It has helped me a lot.”
Peterson was surprised to hear he’d been selected to receive the merit award.
“I had no clue,” he said. “I just walked into class one day and there was this big check.”
Each of the students receiving merit awards were given $100.
Program instructor Teri Raatz said Peterson has received a number of other post-secondary scholarships during the past two years he has been in the Farm Operation Program.
“Trevor is not only an excellent student, he is also a respectful and responsible young man,” Raatz said. “He is always on time and willing to put his best effort forward in and out of class.”
Peterson was an active member of the Marshfield FFA.
“He has carried his passion for agriculture through his post-secondary studies also,” Raatz said. “He is a wonderful example of what the future of agriculture looks like.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin tours Madison College touts GREEN Act
February 3, 2014
By Ryan Whisner – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin visited Madison Area Technical College campuses in both Fort Atkinson and Madison Friday to discuss her new legislation aimed at job training and workforce readiness for high-skilled jobs in clean energy.
The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act allocates competitive grant funding for clean energy career- and technical-training programs so that students are better trained for post-secondary education and better equipped for the high-skilled “green collar” jobs of the future.
“I’m excited about it because we know this is an area where there is job growth that is outperforming job growth throughout the United States,” Baldwin said.
She said more than 3 million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability. That is more than the number of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry.
Additionally, Baldwin noted that the jobs created in the clean energy economy pay better than the average American job, with compensation rates 13-percent higher than the national average.
“What the GREEN act focuses on is partnerships between secondary schools and post-secondary schools to actually plant the seed of the potential of these careers earlier,” the senator said.
Both through her campaign for U.S. Senate and as a senator, Baldwin said, she has traveled the state visiting manufacturing and other sites where inspiring things are happening.
Specifically, she recalled visiting manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and other green energy sources.
“I talk at these sites about the employment future,” Baldwin said. “One of the things I hear frequently are that the local high school students are looking elsewhere and are not necessarily planning to have careers in the industries that have supported their communities for generations.”
The senator noted that a lot of people are saying that the conversation has to start earlier, even in middle school.
“We’re seeing some really promising outcomes when the conversation does start earlier,” she said, citing examples of schools that have added curriculum through which students can earn technical college or university credit and others that have started energy efficiency and renewable energy class work.
“Part of the bill I’ve introduced focuses on that type of continuing curriculum,” Baldwin said. “It would begin earlier and provide opportunities to expose people at a younger age to the advanced industry around them and the green energy job possibilities and really to establish partnerships between the high schools and technical colleges of our state.”
The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools or high schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.
Baldwin said the intention is for students to be able to be actively involved in the installation and maintenance and analysis of how effective the systems are as part of their green collar career tracks.
“It becomes a teaching and learning opportunity,” she said, noting that in some cases, the students write the grants. “We think it is an exciting way to get young people interested at an earlier age.”
Baldwin said her purpose in introducing the bill was to help address the ongoing economic issues.
“There is no greater challenge for our nation or for our state than to get our economy back to full strength,” the senator said. “We know the hits we’ve taken in recent years, whether it’s recession-based or because of other policies.”
She noted that manufacturing, in particular, has taken a huge hit.
“We’ve always made things in Wisconsin and we want to see a clear path back to the forefront, with an emphasis on clean, renewable energy,” Baldwin said. “You are in the front line and I’m really excited to hear more about what you are doing here.”
She noted that it was great to be at the Fort Atkinson campus of Madison College, where so much is happening in terms of preparing students for these types of such green-collar jobs.
“Sometimes I think we talk about this too narrowly,” she said.
During her visit at the Fort Atkinson campus, she spoke with instructors and students involved in renewable energy, transportation and manufacturing. Specific areas highlighted included hybrid vehicle automotive technical training, compressed natural gas technology and renewable energy (wind and solar energy).
Also, Jefferson City Administrator Tim Freitag and Mayor Dale Oppermann were on hand to discuss the recent installation of a solar farm by Half Moon Ventures of Chicago in the city’s North Business Park.
The senator also visited the campus’ state-of-the-art welding labs, where students are involved in learning greener manufacturing processes into the future.
“It is very exciting speaking to both the instructors and the students who are very optimistic about this future of this sector of economy,” Baldwin said after the campus tour.
The senator said she is proud of Wisconsin’s technical colleges for being the “unsung heroes” across the state.
“Madison College is no exception to that rule; in fact, it is a leader among them,” Baldwin said. “In our changing economy and as we have been struggling to recover from a deep recession, they have played such a critical role in helping returning students retool their skills for advanced manufacturing jobs in the future, but they also really are being focused on having the students career-ready on the day they graduate.”
She said it is filling an important need.
“There also are tremendous partnerships with the private sector making sure they are relevant to the needs of employers all around,” Baldwin said.
Following her stop in Fort Atkinson, the senator also visited the Commercial Avenue campus in Madison to tour the solar instructional labs and learn about the net-zero energy home project that the college and the City of Madison Community Development Authority have teamed up with to support the development of net-zero energy performing homes in the Allied Drive neighborhood of Madison.
Baldwin also has visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay and Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids to discuss the GREEN Act.
Mid-State Technical College is offering a series of “late start” online courses, beginning Feb. 10, for individuals interested in taking a class but are unsure they want to wait until the beginning of next semester.
Available courses include Business Law & Ethics, Developmental Psychology, Intro to Business, Intro to Psychology, Intro to Sociology, Introductory Statistics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Oral/Interpersonal Communication, Principles of Management and Written Communication.
MSTC is encouraging people to register for courses by Feb. 5. Individual classes are subject to cancellation if they have low enrollment. To learn more, call 1-888-575-MSTC (6782), visit www.mstc.edu or stop by campuses in Stevens Point, Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids or the county center in Adams. Individuals previously enrolled at MSTC can register online through MyMSTC.