From htrnews.com: “Mini-choppers take shape at area schools” – By Phillip Bock – Motorcycles are taking shape in metal shop classrooms across Manitowoc County as students work toward a Friday deadline to complete their bikes in time for a late-April motorcycle show.

This year five schools are participating in the mini-chopper program, which provides students with real life experience and promotes careers in manufacturing as they build mini choppers as part of their academic curriculum. The project is a collaborative effort by the Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County, The Chamber of Manitowoc County, local high schools, Lakeshore Technical College, and sponsorship by area business.

“Some of the benefits of the mini-chopper program is that students get to work with area manufacturing and area businesses to not only design, but fabricate, construct, and stay within budget, a complete mini-chopper,” Ryan Zimmerman, a technical education instructor at Lincoln High School said.

Students at Lincoln are creating two mini-choppers this year, small-sized motorcycles that incorporate sponsorship logos into their designs. The students are creating one bike for Lincoln, which incorporates theschool’s colors and the iconic tower into the design, and a second bike for the Manitowoc Public School District.

“We figure out how we want it to look, paint colors and things like that,” Lincoln student Logan Newberg said. “This year we bent and cut the whole frame.”

Students start from scratch and first sketch out a design on paper or in a computer assisted design (CAD) program. At Lincoln, students first built a mock-up of the bike using plastic PVC piping before building the steel frame.

“The entire machine was challenging once they left the plastic design stage,” said Gerald Neuberger, a technical education instructor at Lincoln. “We practiced welding and cutting, but it just isn’t the same as when you have to get a perfect fit.”

McKinley gets in on design

Students at McKinley Academy in Manitowoc built their own bike this year — a first for the school. Without fabrication facilities on-site, students partnered with LTC welding instructor Mitchell Schmidt and used the college’s facilities to fabricate their bike.

“When we first started, the students said they wanted to be completely different and did not want it to look like a typical mini- chopper,” Schmidt said. “One thing they didn’t realize was how much work would go into finish it, but the more you struggle the more you learn.”

The McKinley bike is certainly unique. Students created single-sided axles for the front spoke and rear-swing arm, utilized a bicycle tire and golf cart wheel, and combined elements of dirt bikes, such as a kick-start, to give the bike a truly one-of-a-kind look.

“Originally the gas tank was not as big as we thought it would be, but we decided to leave it and I think it is looking pretty good with how it is turning out,” student Miles Schreiber said.

Students in Two Rivers, Valders and Mishicot are also creating bikes, which are set to be unveiled during an annual Northeastern Wisconsin Charity Motorcycle Show on April 25.

Production is completed under tight deadlines and, in addition to time management, students learn skills such as team work, budgeting, and engineering design.

“I enjoy being able to be a part of something bigger than myself and working with somebody to make a product that works,” Courtney Spangenberg, a senior at Lincoln, said.

Local manufacturing companies help fund the program, provide parts, and assist with other tasks, such as painting and chroming the bikes.

Students will be putting the finishing touches on their bikes over the next week as the unveiling deadline rapidly approaches.

“A lot of after-school hours have been spent getting this thing done,” Zimmerman said. “Getting things done on deadline was definitely a challenge this year.”

From leadertelegram.com: “American Indians display history, beauty of culture in CVTC powwow event” – By Emily Miels Leader - The loud drumbeats, chanting and brightly colored costumes were hard to miss Monday at the Chippewa Valley Technical College commons.

Students and spectators got a firsthand look at the traditional dances and culture of American Indian tribes during the college’s annual American Indian Powwow Exhibition.

“You can’t help but be amazed at what you’re witnessing,” said Mike Ojibway, CVTC’s diversity and equal opportunity manager.

The Lac Courte Oreilles pipestone singers played drums and chanted along as dancers showed off traditional dances and costumes.

“A powwow is a social dance. It brings us together,” said emcee Dylan Prescott, who shared the significance and background of each song.

One of the first performances was the women’s traditional dance, which was light and graceful as the women “danced soft on Mother Earth,” Prescott said. However, women do not always dance soft. The traditional dance shifted into the “fancy” dance, a newer style in which women wear bright shawls and dance to upbeat, energetic music.

“(Men) used to throw rocks and sticks at them because they didn’t like how they were out there dancing around,” Prescott said.

The men’s traditional dance was meant to be a war dance, Prescott said. When the men returned from battle, the tribe would gather and celebrate with the warriors.

“They’d tell stories in their dance about what they’d done at war,” he said.

The costumes also play a significant role in telling about the dancer and the tribe itself, Prescott said. For example, the grass dancers wear long fringes on their costumes that sway as they dance, just as grass would in the breeze.

“I thought it was interesting that everything has a meaning — every color, ever piece of fabric on their clothing and the dances,” said CVTC student Stacy Rutsch, who attended Monday’s event.

Audience members watched as the dancers twirled, swayed and hopped, but they also got the chance to participate in the dances for themselves.

This was CVTC’s biggest powwow exhibition to date, with close to 40 dancers from Ho-Chunk, Ojibwe, Potowatami, Oneida, Menominee, Comanchi, Arikara, Sioux, and Omaha tribes.

“When they started out a couple of years ago there was only six (dancers), so it’s really growing, and hopefully it can continue to do that,” said Kodiak Cleveland, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and CVTC student who helped plan the event.

About 60 American Indian students are enrolled at CVTC, Ojibway said, but the campus continues to become more diverse.

“It’s important to show them that this is part of our culture, part of our life,” Cleveland said.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Teaching, class sharing rises at rural schools as budgets shrink” – As rural schools deal with the reality of reduced budgets and smaller enrollments, one of the inevitable trends is the reduction in the number of classes offered as schools focus on core subjects.

A number of Clark County schools are turning toward sharing teachers in a number of elective classes as a way of saving costs, while still providing students with learning opportunities.

Sue Rudesill, a family and consumer sciences teacher, begins each day in Neillsville, and then around lunch time makes the 20-minute commute to Greenwood to continue teaching in the afternoon.

It’s the first year she’s split time between two schools and said it took a little getting used to the first semester.

She would find herself trying to help students after class in Neillsville, but that potentially delayed her getting to Greenwood, causing the first part of her class in Greenwood to be missed.

After discussions with administrators in both districts, she said she now has a little more time to make the commute this semester.

Another change that districts are seeing is the increased reliance on distance learning courses. Students will be in a normal classroom, but the teacher often will be miles away in another school.

“We do have some rooms that are now available,” Neillsville School District Superintendent John Gaier said. “A lot of the rooms that used to have classes in them are now being used as distance learning classrooms. It’s possible for a high school class period to have four online classes going on.”

Students in Neillsville take distance learning classes through a number of different institutions, including the Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

But it’s not just courses being taught at institutions of higher education that students are taking. Sometimes schools share courses with each other through distance learning.

In Loyal, students take social studies through Granton, a required course for graduation.

“That’s a big step to go into that. Spanish is an elective, but to have a required class that’s important, the reason we did it was it seemed to be the least detrimental. The teacher would be the most able to appropriately communicate with students. You would not want to do chemistry (over distance learning),” Cale Jackson, Loyal School District administrator, said. “History seemed like something where the kids could still have a good experience even though it was over the distance learning.”

It takes a lot of work and coordination between schools to sync schedules, Jackson said, “but everybody is in the same boat, so everybody is willing to do it.”

From htrnews.com: “Tech Education one key to future workforce” — Hundreds of job seekers attended a recent job fair hosted by Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland. Just as telling, about 50 employers were registered.

Companies are recruiting for a mix of permanent and seasonal jobs, including full- and part-time. Many of the major employers in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties were represented. Opportunities are there for the taking for those with the right skills.

Jobs are certain to be a key issue in this year’s gubernatorial election. The presumed Democratic nominee, Mary Burke, has criticized Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs plan as ineffective and scant on details. The state GOP, in turn, has criticized Burke’s record as state commerce secretary, and says her jobs plan lacks substance.

Democrats often point to Walker’s inability to meet a campaign goal of creating 250,000 new private sector jobs as evidence that his plan is not working.

Those seeking and creating jobs are more concerned about results than political rhetoric, however. Job seekers want good, well paying jobs, and employers want workers with skills to do the job. Key to meeting the needs of both job seekers and employers is identifying and developing those skills.

On today’s front page, our series on how technology is dramatically changing edicatopm continues with a focus on instruction after high school. Higher education is key to many competitive jobs in our high-tech world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year degree.

A 2012 report on Wisconsin workforce development quoted research by Georgetown University, which determined that up to 925,000 jobs would become available in Wisconsin in the decade ending in 2018, due to retirements and growth. An estimated 70 percent of those jobs will require less than a four-year degree, according to the study.

That makes schools like Lakeshore Technical College, which offers a variety of one- and two-year degree options, a major player in the jobs training scenario. In fact, many local manufacturers have open positions requiring the very skills that schools like LTC can teach in a one- or two-year period. There is a shortage of workers to fill these positions, that according to one LTC official can pay up to $60,000 annually.

Such training is beginning sooner with high schools in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties having the opportunity to offer introductory manufacturing classes beginning next school year thanks to an Advanced Manufacturing Mobile Lab unveiled at Lakeshore Technical College recently.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch called the facility “opportunity on wheels” during a dedication ceremony.

The lab is one of many ways the school is seeking to prepare the workforce of the future. Experts predict future workers will be more tech savvy, highly trained in specific skills and better able to adapt to employer needs.

All of that requires the proper education, be it at the university or technical school level, but our education system faces other challenges.

Wisconsin is among the leaders in the country with its 90 percent high school graduation rates but that still leaves roughly 14,000 dropouts each year.

The problem does not end there, however. The state’s graduation rate at four-year higher education institutions is just 36 percent, and only 29 percent of those seeking associate degrees at two-year schools do so within three years. Many factors play into these numbers, but the bottom line is that a majority of post-secondary students don’t complete the course of study they embark upon.

That trend needs to reverse if employers are going to find the skilled help they need and if job seekers are available to fill those jobs.

Many students, before going the route of a four-year university education, would benefit from at least exploring two-year institutions like LTC, UW-Manitowoc or UW-Sheboygan. Cost (and resulting student debt) is a major factor in such decisions. Two-year schools are proven to be less expensive, particularly if housing costs are not a factor.

Education is key to a developed workforce and technology is key to education. Take the time to learn more about each, and use that knowledge to choose wisely the path most productive — for you and society as a whole.

From haywardwi.com: “WITC-Hayward plans hospitality seminar Apr. 26″ -- In a joint effort, WITC-Hayward and Sawyer County UW-Extension will host a customer service seminar designed specifically for tourism employees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at WITC Hayward.

Andrew Nussbaum of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will present a full-day of informative tips on how employees in the tourism industry can help employers generate customer loyalty. This seminar, Northern Hospitality, will be held at WITC-Hayward. Materials, lunch and snacks are included in the fee of $35 per person or $16.67 for individuals 62 or better.

Employees will hear and be involved in the discussion of the importance of personal job success, customer relations and selling. Some of the specific topics will include: honesty; teamwork; loyalty and job performance; punctuality and attendance; work ethic, selling products, personal image, social media interaction and the job, dealing with customer complaints, and the top 10 customer relations strategies. This seminar will be appropriate for all ages, including high school students.

Seating is limited so register early. For more information or to register, call WITC at (715) 634-5167. You may also view course information at www.witc.edu/classfinder.

From bizopinion.com: “Demand for IT skills signals next advance in modern manufacturing” – By Jennifer Sereno — Wisconsin has been staking its claim as a center of skilled manufacturing since the 1860s. And Blackhawk Technical College intends to help the state build on that legacy for generations to come with a groundbreaking program to develop the new workforce skills Wisconsin manufacturers need to remain competitive in the global economy.

While some of the state’s earliest skilled manufacturing businesses emerged in Milwaukee — steam engine producer Allis Co. (later Allis Chalmers) was founded in 1861 — manufacturers in Rock County were not far behind.

Thanks to the arrival of rail lines in the 1850s as well as the proximity to Chicago, Rock County’s  starting with an iron works, a paper mill and agricultural equipment producers. Parker Pen Co. which ultimately became a global pen manufacturer, was founded in Janesville in 1888.

More recently, Rock County has weathered a number of manufacturing-related challenges, including closure of General Motors assembly plant. However, manufacturing remains the county’s third-largest source of employment, accounting for some 14 percent of jobs, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.

Blackhawk Technical College plays an important role in maintaining the region’s skilled manufacturing leadership. With locations in Janesville, Beloit and Monroe, the technical college offers more than 75 programs that can lead to associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships in fields such as business, manufacturing, health sciences, computers and more.

Those offerings will expand in an important way this fall when Blackhawk launches a two-year program that trains students as information technology specialists for advanced manufacturing jobs. The program will complement the technical college’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center, the first phase of which is scheduled to open in Milton this fall.

“The face of manufacturing is changing nationally, regionally and locally,” says Gary Kohn, Blackhawk’s marketing and communications manager. “Modernization is critical for survival. And what’s happening with respect to modernization is improved techniques in the plants – new quality management systems, robotics, other intelligent systems.”

In the modern manufacturing environment, skilled workers are needed for more than just operating the increasingly complex machines, Kohn says. They need to be able to integrate, program and fix the machines, as well.

Today’s manufacturing equipment is being linked together through sophisticated computer networks and operated from remote workstations. Kohn says the shift to this new, lean environment puts a premium on workers skilled in information technology with knowledge of both hardware and software.

College officials are quick to credit regional business and community leaders who serve on various advisory groups for identifying the need for such cutting-edge training. Among them is SSI Technologies of Janesville, a privately held company that designs and manufactures sensors, sensor-based monitoring systems, digital gauges and powdered-metal components for automotive and industrial applications.

“Our instructors are constantly getting feedback and seeking input” from industry, workers and community members, Kohn says. “We’ve heard about the need from our community advisory groups … This is going to be a program that should really gain a lot of traction because these jobs are applicable in so many areas.”

In developing new educational offerings that align with the emerging needs of the manufacturing sector, Blackhawk Technical College is bettering opportunities for its students while building workforce capacity for the future. If history shows anything, Kohn says, it’s that manufacturers and workers need to be adaptable.

“We use that word ‘adaptability’ with a lot of our programs,” he says. “We want our welders to be familiar with precision machining and we want our industrial mechanics to be able to weld. Our HVAC students don’t just fix air conditioning units; sometimes they have to build things requiring machining.”

If Wisconsin is to maintain its heritage as a global center of skilled manufacturing in the New Economy, advanced training such as the manufacturing information technology program offered by Blackhawk Technical College will be key.

From lacrossetribune.com: “WTCS Board recognizes D&S as ‘Futuremakers Partner’ — The Wisconsin Technical College System Board recently awarded its Futuremakers Partner award to D&S Manufacturing of Black River Falls.

The award recognizes the unique and dynamic partnerships between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and their employer partners.

D&S Manufacturing, specializing in metal fabrication of large-scale components and assemblies, is a long-time partner with Western Technical College. While its main campus is in La Crosse, Western also serves communities throughout the region, including Black River Falls.

“It was an honor to receive this award, and particularly fitting that company president Mike Dougherty and the Dougherty family were specifically recognized for their outstanding support and long-term commitment to Western,” said John Barkley, D&S vice president and general manager.

“Many of our employee owners have taken advantage of and benefited from the educational opportunities that Western offers. We look forward to continuing our support of Western and the opportunities it provides to our community and region.”

In presenting the award, WTCS Board president Drew Petersen noted that D&S was a driving force in establishing the Jackson County Welding Skills Institute, a unique partnership formed with Western and other partners to meet the growing need for trained welders in the Black River Falls area. Without that support, Petersen noted, the initiative would not have been possible. The company has also funded scholarships at Western over many years, and provided tuition assistance for its employee owners.

“D&S Manufacturing is a true partner,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “Members of both their management and production staff serve on our program advisory committees. We value their support and honest feedback, which helps to ensure that our educational programming is relevant and responsive to the communities we serve.”

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