Tech College News Archives

Students tour new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton

Milton — “This is going to be a state of the art facility,” said Gary Kohn with Blackhawk Technical College.

Right now, it’s hard to see with all of the construction. But you can call it a sneak peek for nearly 230 high school students in Rock County.

Kohn is Wednesday’s tour guide. He’s showing off the college’s new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton.

“We want them to understand the programs a little bit better, so they see what kind of possibilities there are for their education,” said Kohn.

Cory Thomson, is a senior in high school, and among the 230 students, checking out the new construction.

“I can just imagine all the machines around there and all of the cool equipment that’s going to be there for kids to use and learn on,” said Thomson.

In six weeks, Thomson is graduating, and will pursue a career in manufacturing.

“You could make upwards of $75,000 to $100,000 a year,” said Kohn.

A booming business, and one in-demand. That’s the message Kohn is trying to hammer home to the future job seekers.

“All of the manufacturing programs would tell you they are fast growing, and there are many many jobs in need,” said Kohn.

Phase I of the building will be done, and open, by August. Making next school year the first that anyone can sign up.

View video from nbc15.com

Read more: From nbc15.com: "New advanced manufacturing training center in Milton"

Careers may finally separate twins

EAU CLAIRE — Charles and Sam Welbourn are finally facing the moment when they will likely be going their separate ways, but they are OK with it. They each have their sights on a career in law enforcement, and now that they have their certification after graduation from the Chippewa Valley Technical College Law Enforcement Academy last Thursday, it’s time to look for jobs.

“We are both very close, but we’ll go wherever we get hired. We know we’re not going to be together,” said Sam.

Charles and Sam have been nearly as inseparable as they are indistinguishable from one another. In 2008, the identical twins graduated together from Chippewa Falls Senior High School, where they played both soccer and basketball. They attended UW-Stout together for two years, then both transferred to UW-Eau Claire, where they took up majors in criminal justice. They graduated together in May 2013.

Then came the 14-week CVTC Law Enforcement Academy, which consists of a series of classes held five days a week, eight hours a day, leading up to the granting of the certificate needed for employment as a public law enforcement officer in Wisconsin. A major requirement for admission is a minimum of 60 college-level credits, according to Eric Anderson, associate dean of the Emergency Services programs at CVTC. CVTC’s program is highly regarded, and Academy students can come from all over the state. The Welbourns were among 17 graduates in this spring’s class.

Back at Stout, Charles was listed as an engineering major, but Sam was undecided. They talked together about their next move before choosing law enforcement.

“We like the legal aspect of it,” Charles said. “And we liked the problem-solving aspect of it, and you get to work with your community through many different angles.”

“We like the unpredictability of the job. Every day is something new,” Sam added.

Yes, law enforcement can be a dangerous job, but that did not deter the Welbournes.

“It never crossed our minds,” Charles said. “It’s there, but it doesn’t affect us one bit.”

That’s because they will rely on the training they received at the Academy that taught them how to be conscious of the dangers, and how to look out for their own safety while serving the public.

“We had really good instructors here,” Sam said. “Passing on their life experiences was really valuable to us.”

One of the Welbourns’ fellow graduates, Joshua Pettis, spoke of safety in his remarks as the class speaker.

“Each day on duty, remember officer safety. You want to go home feeling as well as you did when you started,” Pettis said.

Pettis also advised the graduates to use their heads in every situation. “Your mind is your greatest weapon. Be sure to use it,” he said.

The guest speaker was Dallas Neville, the United States marshal for the western district of Wisconsin, who remarked on what he learned at each stage of his career, which included six years as Clark County sheriff. He advised the graduates to maintain high standards of integrity.

“You have all the control over your integrity, but if you ever lose it, it’s very difficult to get back,” Neville said. He added that they should remember that as patrol officers, they will represent not just the departments they work for, but all of law enforcement.

Read more: From chippewa.com: "Careers may finally separate twins"

Recruiting women for apprenticeships

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College says it’s getting the word out to women.

Construction jobs pay well, and companies are looking for apprentices.

Look around the average construction site, and you might notice a gender divide.

“Historically, it’s been about 96 percent male,” said Todd Kiel, the NWTC Apprenticeship Manager.

So is the apprenticeship program .

Only about a dozen of the 500 current apprentices are female.

At this info session Tuesday, NWTC urged interested women, like Delphina Orosco, to apply.

“I was looking to get into carpentry,” said Orosco. “Currently, I work at the casino, so there’s not a lot of room for advancement there. But here, there are a ton of advancement possibilities.”

NWTC says apprenticeships are cost-effective ways of job training. Students get paid to be in the classroom or out on a job site.

“Generally speaking it’s one day every two weeks you get paid your regular eight hour a day salary to be here for apprenticeship training,” said Kiel.

The U.S. Department of Labor says women make up more than half of the minimum wage workers in Wisconsin.

That means they make $7.25 an hour.

Jim Golembeski with the Brown County Workforce Development Board says skilled apprentices make a lot more.

“This one says anywhere between 12 and 24 dollars an hour for a carpenter journeyman,” said Golembeski, showing a listing on the Wisconsin Job Center web site.

Right now the Wisconsin Job Center lists 111 construction openings in Brown County alone.

“After a long drought in the construction industry, things are booming,” said Golembeski.

Hopeful carpenters like Orosco say despite the gender gap, they’ll take the chance on building a better life.

“I’m ready to take that on,” said Orosco.

The Brown County workforce development office says there is no guarantee of work, after you finish an apprenticeship program, because it’s too far out to know what the economy will do.

Read more: From fox11online.com: "NWTC looks to recruit women for apprenticeships"

Learn motorcycle safety at WCTC

Four people died in motorcycle crashes in Wisconsin in the past two days.

“While I’m driving checking my mirrors and looking behind me to see if there’s any cars that are coming up fast,” said motorcyclist Jason Laitsch. “A minor accident in a car can be a life-ending accident on a motorcycle so I’d say defensive driving is one of the biggest things they teach you in safety classes.”

Laitsch learned motorcycle safety classes over the spring and summer at Waukesha County Technical College.

WCTC will host more than five dozen motorcycle safety classes this spring and summer.

“We already completed the liability form we’ll talk more about that,” said instructor Jim Imoehl, a motorcycle riding coach.

Imoehl said this week’s deadly motorcycle crashes should serve as a lesson for those who drive cars.

“As community members and as car drivers we need to be aware that there are going to be more motorcyclists on the road,” he said.

Jill Congelmi is enrolled in the safety course.. She said learning to ride is on her bucket list, having survived breast cancer.

“A year ago I would have told you I just wanted to be a passenger and now I want a little bit of freedom to go when I want to go. So I want to know how to do it right and get some training,” she said.

Read more: From wisn.com: "Motorcycle safety on the minds of some riders after two fatal crashes"

Green vehicle workshop highlights alternate fuels

The newest police vehicle in the city of Port Washington is powered by propane instead of gasoline.

The fuel known most for lighting gas grills and heating rural Wisconsin homes has emerged as an alternative that provides savings for owners of small fleets – like the seven patrol cars in the Port Washington police department.

Port Washington Police Capt. Mike Keller said he started exploring alternative fuels as a way to find a way to chip into the more than $60,000 a year the agency spends on fuel.

“For a small department that’s a lot,” so I’ve been doing research since 2012 looking for ways to reduce our operating costs and fueling costs,” Keller said during the Green Vehicles Workshop held Tuesday at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

The department considered vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas before deciding on propane instead. The first vehicle: A Ford sport utility vehicle that can run on gas or propane.

“The squad here went live in very late December a few months in, but based on usage so far saving $500 a month on fuel on one car vs. what we paid for gas,” Keller said.

The propane shortage that hit much of the country during the deep freeze this winter didn’t affect the department because it had already paid for the propane.

Until this year, the price of propane has been stable whereas gasoline prices have been much more volatile, said Jason Ebert, fleet and facilities manager with Go Riteway, which operates propane-powered buses and airport shuttles as well as propane-fueled school buses.

“Typically it’s gasoline that will fluctuate rapidly. Propane in its history has been a very stable fuel so that’s one thing that is very appealing,” said Ebert. “However we did have this issue this winter, due to our wonderful Wisconsin winter.”

Go Riteway had a “ceiling price” on propane that kept its prices from being too exorbitant when prices spiked temporarily this winter, he said.

The type of alternative fuel fleet operators are seeking depends on the kind of vehicles and the size of the fleet involved, said Ted Barnes of the Gas Technology Institute near Chicago.

Propane is best suited to small fleets given the lower up-front and capital costs associated with going with propane, compared with CNG.

Compressed natural gas, Barnes said, is best suited to larger trucks that burn a lot of fuel. Case in point: refuse trucks like those in the city of Milwaukee, which has 21 natural gas-fueled refuse trucks that double as snow plows, with another 22 on order, said Jeffrey Tews, fleet operations manager for the city’s Department of Public Works.

The city is saving about $6,500 per year per truck because of the price advantage natural gas enjoys over diesel.

With an upfront extra cost of $39,000 for buying the natural gas-powered vehicle, “that amounts to a six-year payback if we buy them outright, which is what we’re planning to do,” Tews said.

Read more: From jsonline.com: "Seeking savings when filling up, fleets turn to propane, natural gas"

FVTC president responds to controversy over body farm

You may have seen the flurry of media recently regarding a forensic training field at our Public Safety Training Center. The concept of an outdoor forensic training field may make for a tempting headline, but it is far from being anything final.

I’m sure you may be wondering about this development, so I’ll attempt to provide some clarification about this proposed aspect of the overall facility.

First, the concept of an all-season forensic training field has been included from the very beginning through all planning and referendum communication phases of this center. The very first rough drawings of this facility included this potential outdoor lab, as did early conversations with community leaders in 2009. As the project progressed, we often addressed questions about it, but this part of the center wasn’t highlighted because it’s by no means the primary focus of this new facility. From the beginning, it was considered a longer-range project for possible development in the future.

Right now, the forensic training field is only a concept, an idea, a possibility for further consideration. We are nowhere near actual implementation. Before any action is taken, we would need to address regulatory requirements, reporting standards and operational processes, let alone the research and development our staff would need to undertake. We have many more critical priorities than this, both in getting the PSTC up and running and across the college overall. Ultimately, we may determine that it simply isn’t worth pursuing if the regulations are prohibitive and/or costly.

Looking back, it’s important to remember that public hearings were held to provide information and answer any questions on all of our referendum projects, which were widely supported by the public in 2012. FVTC delivered more than 125 community presentations, our web site included detailed information on the projects, and communications were sent to municipalities, planning commissions, the state Department of Natural Resources, and many other agencies. We sent letters to the adjacent property owners to inform them about the PSTC and invited them to contact us with any questions or concerns.

We were also required to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the PSTC development. In that report, the forensic training field was specifically referenced in terms of secured access, visual appearance and odors. This was made available for public review and feedback, and a public hearing was held specifically on this report. The final document has been posted on our website since it was published in September 2012.

Our local media sources have really gotten ahead of themselves on this one; perhaps some of our own exuberant and well-meaning staff has as well. I find it very interesting that all of this media attention has generated a number of inquiries from people about donating their bodies for this type of research, as well as contacts from several universities worldwide interested in working with us at this facility. They, too, are perhaps getting ahead of themselves.

Is there merit to the idea of creating the nation’s first all-season forensic training field to support forensics education, training and research? Absolutely. But, as I’ve tried to convey, there’s a lot more homework to be done. And if this moves forward at some point, it will need to be done with respect for process, laws and regulations, neighbors and communications that are appropriate and timely.

Read more: From postcrescent.com: "FVTC President Dr. Susan May: It's time to put 'body farm' to rest"

New Emergency Medical Technician course offered at Blackhawk Tech

Blackhawk Technical College is offering a new basic Emergency Medical Technician-Basic course over two semesters, the first time a Wisconsin Technical College System school has received approval to split the five-credit, 180-hour course into two sections.

The new arrangement will see the EMT-Basic course divided into a two-credit summer school offering and a three-credit class in the fall semester. The summer school class begins June 10th and runs through July 29th . This class will be held on Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

The fall semester class will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. Blackhawk also will continue to offer the five-credit, EMT basic course on Mondays and Wednesdays mornings at the Central Campus and evenings at the Monroe Campus during the fall semester.

Registration for the two-tiered course and the five-credit course begins April 28th. The courses prepare students to take the national certification test for EMT-Basic.

“We listened to feedback from our students,’’ said David Peterson, the Fire Services Training Coordinator at Blackhawk. “We learned that some students in the Fire Protection Technician Program were going beyond the two years in which the program is intended to be completed because of the academic and clinical needs of the EMT Fundamentals course.’’

The two-credit, 54-hour summer class will cover cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, airways, anatomy, hazmat response, lifting and moving patients, incident command and other technical information.

The three-credit, 126-hour fall class includes a 10-hour clinical as well as the handling of cervical and spine injuries, burn injuries, heart and breathing related problems, shock and other trauma injuries.

Read more: From wisbusiness.com: "New Emergency Medical Technician course offered at Blackhawk Technical College"

Candidate Burke visits Western Technical College

Governor Scott Walker visited on Tuesday, and democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke followed by bringing her “Invest for Success” tour to La Crosse on Wednesday.

Burke toured the Health Science Center on the UW-La Crosse campus on Wednesday, and spoke with health and science students.

Burke said she is committed to making Wisconsin a top ten thriving economy, creating more “good-paying” jobs, and making sure workers have the necessary skills to fill those jobs.

Burke also met with students at the Lunda Center on the Western Technical College campus, as she believes technical colleges plays a critical role in worker training—which would fuel job creation and strengthen Wisconsin’s middle class.

“We are constantly looking at how to produce more at a lower cost, and we have to approach education in the same way. We still want to keep quality really high, but we need to have more people to get skills and education after high school,” Burke said.

Burke said to help send the future workforce to college, she plans to increase tuition and fee deductions to help make higher education more affordable and available for middle class families.

“In terms of job creation, we are 9th our of ten Midwestern states. (Governor) Walker has cut funding for the technical colleges just at the point where we need to make sure we are investing in our students and investing in their skills,” Burke said.

Burke said 70 percent of new jobs created will require more education, and she said she believes the earlier they speak to high school students on what the next steps are ahead of them, the better Wisconsin will be able to create jobs.

Read more: From wxow.com: "Mary Burke visits college students, pushes jobs plan"

Skilled workers in demand

EAU CLAIRE — As a student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC) Machine Tooling Technics program, Eric Weining of Menomonie has a valuable set of skills for potential employers. Unfortunately, it was probably too late for the employers at the CVTC Spring Career Fair Wednesday, April 9, to entice him.

Weining will not graduate from the program until December, but that didn’t stop him from getting a job at Phillips Plastics in Menomonie. He started about four weeks ago.

“I work in the tool room as a mold machine technician,” Weining said. He heard about a job opening there and had some contacts in the company, but his plans to finish his degree at CVTC was key. “That was motivation for them. They had been looking to hire a student from CVTC for their program.”

Starting early

In a sign of improving economic times, participation in the CVTC Spring Career Fair was up once again, and the message to employers was clear: Start your recruitment efforts early, as skilled workers are in high demand.

Overall, 81 private and public employers set up tables at three CVTC facilities at this year’s Spring Career Fair, up from 69 last spring and from 58 in spring 2012. The 37 employers at the Manufacturing Education Center represented an increase from 30 at the Spring 2013 Career Fair. In spring 2011, only 22 manufacturing businesses participated.

Kuss Filtration in Bloomer had never participated in the Spring Career Fair before, but it was time for the company that was spun off from Cummins Filtration to get proactive.

“Now that we’re spun off, there’s no outside support for troubleshooting equipment,” said Ben Rubenzer, manufacturing engineering manager for the company. He’s looking to expand a maintenance team of 14 at the plant that employs up to 170 workers.

“We’re looking at exploding our capabilities and our skill set internally,” Rubenzer said. “We’re looking at Electromechanical (Technology) students.”

Kuss Filtration was not the only company looking for people with the training to design, program and maintain the often automated equipment found in today’s manufacturing plants, nor was Kuss the first new employer to take part in the fair. Universal Services, a power line installation company out of Hastings, Minn.; Crown Trucks, a lift truck manufacturer from St. Paul; and Koch Pipeline were among several new Career Fair participants looking for people with such skills.

Some employers are anxious to find applicants.

Increased demand

Brad Moran at the TTM Technologies table said he has 31 maintenance workers at the Chippewa Falls plant, but he could use 40. “We’re constantly adding equipment. We’ve been on the increase the past two and half years,” Moran said.

A crowd of Machine Tooling Technics students gathered around the Riverside Machine and Engineering table, examining some of the small metal parts the company manufactures. The plant, which will be moving from Chippewa Falls into part of the Hutchinson Technology building on Eau Claire’s north side, has needs for machinists, inspectors on all shifts and calibration technicians. A sign at the table requested applicants for those jobs.

“About 90 percent of our crew is CVTC graduates. We recruit very heavily here,” said Elisia Gonsowski of the Riverside team.

Giles Nielsen of Five Star Plastics in Eau Claire was looking for Electromechanical Technology students, but also had his eyes open for people with other skills as well. On his table were two plastic prototype parts made through use of two different kinds of three-dimensional printers. CVTC recently added one of those types of printers.

“We have a rapid prototyping department,” said Nielsen. “If they know about this process and how to run these machines, it’s all the better.”

Plenty of openings

Companies tended to be quite familiar with CVTC graduates.

“We hired a CVTC student last year who is a multi-craft technician. He does a little bit of electrical and instrumentation and mechanical. He’s doing a great job for us. We’re looking to see who else is available,” said Natalie Caldarera of Koch Pipeline.

Denise Nelson of Universal Services had openings for as many as eight Electromechanical Technology technicians, four aerial linemen and a diesel mechanic – all skills taught in specific CVTC programs.

Students in the sought-after programs found a lot of interest from potential employers, but, as in Weining’s case, it was often too late – for the employers.

Electromechanical Technology student Charlie Yohnk of Bloomer has been working at Catalytic Combustion in Bloomer since September. “I plan to stay there, but I’m going around seeing what everyone else is up to,” he said.

It’s not too late for companies to spark an interest with Sam Reider, who can bring a diversity of skills. The 2007 Chippewa Falls High School graduate attended CVTC in the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology program, then served his country in Afghanistan as a diesel mechanic in the service. He’s now a CVTC Industrial Mechanics program student.

“I like fixing stuff. I want to see what’s out there after I graduate,” Reider said. He drew some early interest from Five Star Plastics, even though he’s not graduating until May 2015.

For Career Fair employers, recruitment is a long-term project.

Read more: From chippewa.com: "Workers in demand"

MPTC eyes $1.5 million addition

A proposed $1.5 million addition planned for Moraine Park Technical College will enhance the front entrance, centralize services and accommodate student veterans.

The addition will be located on the west side of the C-Building in close proximity to the C-Parking (visitor) lot. A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for June 2.

The Student Services Addition Project is pending May 6 approval by the Wisconsin Technical College System State Board.

The project will move MPTC from “good” to “wow,” said Stanley Cram, vice president of student affairs. The new “one-stop shop” includes a walk-up service area for enrollment and eliminates the current physical barriers between staff and the student.

“Like any business it is important that customers — in our case student learners — are able to quickly identify where they need to go for information and services they are seeking,” Cram said. “We recognized the Fond du Lac campus most obvious need is to have a clearly identifiable ‘Front Door.’”

There will be a concierge desk for visitors and students and offices for recruitment staff, academic advisors, and student counselors. The addition will provide a handicap-accessible entrance.

“We are creating the space with a Ritz Carlton concierge concept of service,” Cram said. “When individuals enter the front door they will be greeted by a concierge desk who will determine their specific needs and will guide them to the appropriate services.”

The space will also include a welcome center, which will be staffed with advisors, a veteran’s representative and trained recruitment staff. Cram said the plan includes technological features such as flat-screen meeting notices.

A separate area is dedicated to assisting veterans through the admission, enrollment and financial aid processes and introduce them to veteran services offered by the college.

The project will be funded with $300,000 from college reserves and $1.2 million promissory note borrowing.

Bids for the project will be opened at 2 p.m. April 24 during a public bid, and the project is expected to be approved at a May 21 meeting of the Moraine Park Technical College District Board. Bid requests were sent to 15 pre-qualified general contractors, said Tim Flood, director of facility services.

Somerville Inc. of Green Bay is the architectural firm that designed the 5,212-foot concrete block addition to match facilities at MPTC’s Beaver Dam and West Bend campuses.

“I think it’s an outstanding design that ties into the existing building,” Flood said.

The main entrance will be closed during construction and students will access the school through the C-2 entrance, which is off the main parking lot. The driveway will remain open.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of November and ready for students for the winter/spring 2015 semester.

Cram said additional services will be considered during the second phase of the project.

“I want Moraine Park to be home for our students and alumni. If you need us you have a home that will always strive to provide the best experience for a lifetime,” he said.

Read more: From fdlreporter.com: "MPTC eyeing $1.5 million addition"

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