From “Startup benefits from business development center” — Jamie Veeser is confident in his abilities as a machinist, but owning a machine shop was at the edge of his expertise.

Veeser’s company, Machine-plus, which opened for business at the beginning of the year, is the first manufacturing tenant in the Advance Business & Manufacturing Center at 2701 Larsen Road, Green Bay, and the first to receive assistance from each of the incubator’s constituent agencies.

“Jamie is a pretty classic example,” said Chuck Brys, business counselor with the Small Business Development Center. “You understand they have the background to do it. The gap we try to fill is ‘You now have to sell yourself to somebody who’s going to finance this thing.'”

Financing was critical. Without it, there would be no business, but preparing a business plan that would satisfy lenders meant looking at the business in every detail.

“It’s kind of your book to business. It’s your guide,” Veeser said of the business plan.

He discovered there were little things he hadn’t thought of, such as including the cost of gasoline for his truck and assuming too much for the cost of a website.

Veeser had 15 years’ experience, was a graduate of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s machine tool program, and is in the window — five to 15 years after graduation — when most people are in a position to strike out on their own.

First, he approached Paul Carron, chapter chairman of SCORE, which also works at the incubator, to determine if he should even try.

“Was this a waste of my time? Should I go back to work?” he said. “You don’t get negative feedback, but I think they would have told me if it was a stupid idea. I realized I didn’t have enough experience after talking to (them).”

He got a job as the manager of a shop to add to that experience. He did that for a year, then it was back to getting a loan. His credit was good, but that means little in the current financial environment.

“Jamie is going to be pretty attractive (to conventional lenders) down the road, but getting a loan upfront was going to be nearly impossible,” Brys said. “You walk in as a startup, they look (at you) like you have a third eye in the middle of your forehead.”

In the end, he got a loan from the Advance Brown County Microloan Program, also housed at the center. That didn’t make it a slam dunk. Veeser had to make a presentation before the microloan board, made up of the same bankers who might not lend him money at their own institutions.

Fred Monique, vice president of economic development for the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce at Advance, called the microloan program “a game changer,” both because it has provided money to startups and businesses needing to expand that otherwise would be unable to do so, and because the process requires the kind of comprehensive look at the business plan that Veeser experienced.

“It’s huge,” Brys said. “When the machine hit the ground, he knew where his first customers were. That is a result of his knowledge and the business plan.”

Advance moved to the center adjacent to NWTC in 2005 with a goal of luring more high-tech and manufacturing businesses. Mostly, its been home to service businesses. It added the manufacturing bays in 2010 and changed its name to put more emphasis on manufacturing. The microloan program is another piece to completing that puzzle, though it’s made its share of service-business loans as well.

Veeser’s shop consists of a bay in the Advance manufacturing area. He has a CNC machining center, a lathe and a drill press. A corner of the bay is set aside for a small office, occupied by an office administrator.

“They said, ‘Get help.’ They said I needed an administrator, and they were right,” he said. “I thought I could do it.”

He quickly discovered he’s already got enough to do. In fact, one of his first jobs required making individual parts, a time-consuming process that kept him from looking for new business. He’s already feeling the need for a machine operator.

“I have 32 students. Get over there now,” advised Mark Weber, dean of Trades & Engineering Technology at NWTC, who was sitting in on an interview with Veeser.

The technical school is connected with the incubator, physically and philosophically.

When Veeser’s Haas VF4 machining center arrived, it didn’t work properly. He’s worked with Haas Automation Inc. equipment his entire career, but wasn’t able to pinpoint the problem. Two instructors from NWTC helped sort it out.

The incubator provided Veeser with furniture, office supplies and other essentials, allowing the business to focus on what needs to be focused on, Brys said.

“Right down to the trash,” Veeser said. “They take care of that.”

From “Designers jamming out computer games at MATC” — A lot can be done in just 48 hours, including building a smart, fun computer game.

So is the challenge at Milwaukee Area Technical College, where dozens of growing game designers are scrambling to finish their projects today, part of a worldwide event called the Global Game Jam that started Friday.

The school is one of more than 240 venues in 46 countries running the software sprint, which tasks teams – made up of novices and professionals – with building games based on a theme, scoring the work and sharing it online.

It’s the second year in a row MATC has run a game jam, and the expectations are high.

“We had a great experience last year,” said Emil Harmsen, MATC’s jam organizer and game instructor at the school. “I do a very lean system of project management and software development. I can take total laymen, give them a small taste . . . and develop a working product. It opens their eyes to what little ceremony you need to develop a great project.”

Last year, some 25 jammers designed games for Milwaukee’s venue, and this year about 40 signed on for the challenge. The goal, Harmsen says, is to tap into aspiring talent, promote the school’s offerings and help the local games industry grow.

“Our program has been getting bigger every year,” Harmsen said of MATC’s computer simulation and gaming program. “Word is getting out that we have a great program for game creation because of the collaborative environment.”

One of the games emerging from MATC’s jam last year was a strategy game called “Zombees,” which is a tower defense challenge in which players defend their hives from zombie bees that are infected by parasites, fungus and disease.

“Zombees” was one MATC team’s answer to last year’s Global Game Jam theme centering on extinction, and the idea was inspired and grounded in science and the environment.

“We had to come up with something based on a real-world extinction model, and we knew that parasites and fungus are a real threat to bees,” Harmsen said.

In addition to brainstorming the mechanics, programming the software and designing the art, the team also heavily promoted its work over social media while it was still under construction, offering downloads of early builds so followers could play and provide feedback.

Using Facebook, the “Zombees” team scored about 13,000 plays of its game during the jam, garnering positive reviews.

“We got a lot of good exposure,” Harmsen said. “We hope to do the same this year by constantly updating.”

Harmsen described the social media-powered public testing of “Zombees” while it was still a work in progress as a form of crowd-sourced quality control, giving players input and getting them invested in the work early. Were there bugs in the early builds? Of course, and the early alpha testers help squash them.

“Using potential customers for play testing helps them feel like they are influencing the game,” Harmsen said, inviting the public to keep up with this year’s jam through the Facebook page for MATC’s student gaming group, or its website.

This year, in addition to more students, graduates also signed up for the jam, which costs $20 to enter to cover the school’s expenses. MATC will have multiple cameras streaming live video over MPTV’s online channel on Ustream so spectators can peer in remotely.

Jammers discovered the theme of this year’s challenge Friday, and teams can also select options from a group of design challenges that will influence their project.

For example, design teams can decide to include features like having one character in a game controlled by multiple people. Not quite up for engineering an electronic game? No problem, jammers can also build board games to meet the challenge.

Harmsen said he would commandeer the most inexperienced game jammers and lead them in a friendly competition against some of the more veteran game makers. In addition to MATC, jam sites are also being hosted in Madison and at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“It is pick up and play for anyone interested in trying game development,” Harmsen said. “I’ll be going up against my old team from last year, and we want to do better every year.”

From “Inmates receive hands-on career guidance” — OSHKOSH – These tech school instructors from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College took their classroom on the road. But Friday’s demonstration was a little different. The students are all inmates.

“This right here opens a whole other door for me,” said inmate Brad Porter, who said he’d been incarcerated since 1992 for attempted homicide, and could soon be released.

This mobile CNC machinist demonstration unit usually makes stops at high schools and other community events. But through a partnership with the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, it came to the Oshkosh Correctional Institute.

“There are four things that research shows make a difference when guys get out. It’s housing, employment, treatment and support, so the employment piece is very vital,” said Jim Golembeski, the director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.

The Department of Corrections says when people leave correctional institutions it can be hard to find a job. But the key is having direction and having some training.“They have a better chance of succeeding if they are employed,” said Warden Judy Smith.The Department of Corrections says it costs $30,000 a year to house an inmate.

So, helping them find their way before re-entry through programs like this…could save taxpayers money.

“It’s given them some hope because a lot have a very tough road ahead of them,” said Smith.

After sitting in the seminar, inmates say the future looks less bleak.

“It’s still kind of reeling in my mind because there is so much available to me, it changes the direction I was planning on going in,” said Porter.

Porter described that he had been in prison since he was 18. Now nearly 40, he’s looking for a way to find a good career and start over.

Inmates we spoke with say the dream they now have of one day designing fashioning these metal parts could keep them out from behind these tall metal fences.

This week was the first session at any of the local correctional institutions for the mobile technical training unit. Next week, it will be visiting a women’s correctional facility outside of Fond du Lac.

From “Future 15″ — Matthew Petersen isn’t your stereotypical scientist –old, messy hair, a mad twinkle in his eye. In fact, at 31-years-old, Petersen is younger than the majority of his students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

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SWTC Board member honored

January 27, 2012

From “Congratulations to Southwest Tech Board Member Russ Moyer” — Russ Moyer, a Southwest Tech District Board Member since January 1981, received well-deserved recognition this weekend. He was named the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association’s 2012 Board Member of the Year!

Russ is a dairy farmer from Barneveld, Wisconsin. During his thirty-one years of service on the Southwest Tech District Board he has been chair four times. He has also served on numerous Board committees and has been instrumental in making professional development, governance education, and participation in the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association standard practice at Southwest Tech. His leadership, contributions, and thoughtful, friendly voice continue to make a difference in Southwest Wisconsin and in the lives of thousands of students, hundreds of staff members, and his fellow Board members.

As the longest serving board trustee in the Wisconsin Technical College System, he has also distinguished himself through service at the state and national level. Over the years, he has actively served on numerous District Boards Association committees, including the Human Resources, Legislative, Programs, State Director’s Budget, Bylaws, Policies, Resolutions, and Executive Director Search committees. He currently services as Vice President of the District Boards Association Executive Committee. At the national level, Russ serves on the Association of Community College Trustees Central Region Nomination Committee and has been a routine participant in ACCT’s Community College National Legislative Summits. In fact, he and I will be among those participating in the 2012 Summit next month for the purpose of speaking with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation about the importance of community and technical colleges.

Congratulations again to Russ! He is the third Southwest Tech District Board Member to earn distinction as a District Boards Association’s Board Member of the Year. The two previous awardees from Southwest Tech were Walter Calvert in 1978 and Ruth Mundt in 2003.

The Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association is a private, non-profit organization comprised of the 144 district board members of Wisconsin’s sixteen technical college districts. The Association is a forum where the trustees of Wisconsin’s locally-governed, community-based technical colleges can come together to learn, share ideas, promote, and otherwise work together for the advancement of Wisconsin’s technical colleges. Paul Gabriel serves as the Association’s Executive Director.

From “Obama’s call for older dropout age already reality in Wisconsin” — Local educators had no cause to bristle when President Obama called for states to keep students in high school until age 18 in his annual address to Congress earlier this week.

Even though most states let students drop out at 16 or 17, Wisconsin is one of the exceptions. Students in the La Crosse area – and the rest of the state – must stay in school through their 18th birthday.

But changing the law can only do so much, and local educators say the key to keeping students interested in school is with active support.

“You can’t just say we’re going to change the graduation rate or the exit age and expect things to get better,” said Fran Finco, superintendent for the Onalaska School District. “There has to be programming.”

In 2010, 30 states allowed students to drop out before age 18, including Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Before Wisconsin lawmakers raised the dropout age to 18, schools would frequently hear back from wayward students who regretted their premature departure, Finco said.

“They would figure out the error of their ways,” Finco said. “And then they would turn around and come back.”

Now, when a student who is younger than 18 continually dodges class, La Crosse and Onalaska school officials contact the student, his parents and sometimes law enforcement, depending on the severity of the situation.

By asking other states to follow Wisconsin’s example, Obama is promoting an educational system that puts more belief in its students, said Randy Nelson, superintendent for the La Crosse School District.

“This would push the envelope and require that the school and the student does not give up on one another,” Nelson said.

But if Obama’s aim is to improve the number of students who are ready for a career or college by the time they leave high school, educators will have to do much more than fall back on state law, Finco said.

In La Crosse schools, educators give shorter schedules for at-risk students, who can use chunks of the day for work-study. The district also has alternative programs with specialized coursework, thanks to a partnership with Western Technical College, Nelson said.

Onalaska schools rolled out a network of supports to help keep students in school, and have since benefited with improved graduation rates, Finco said.

The Onalaska Alternative Services and Instruction School, located in the high school, gives at-risk students a more flexible environment for learning, with online instruction.

The high school also builds in “intervention” class periods, to give students more one-on-one time with teachers in classes where they struggle.

Even in states where the legal drop-out age is 16 or 17, schools should be taking advantage of similar programs, Finco said. Ensuring a full education for all students takes constant adaptation.

“We had to adjust what we did,” Finco said. “We continually tweak things to meet the needs of all the kids.”‘

From “Kuczers named state’s ‘Outstanding Young Farmers'” — 

Shawano County cattle feeders Adam and Rebecca Kuczer were named Wisconsin’s Outstanding Young Farmers last weekend. The Pulaski couple was chosen from among eight producers competing for the 2012 title. Meantime, the 2011 OYFs, Brian and Renee Schaal, Burlington, will be competing early next month in Arkansas with 10 producers around the country for this year’s national title.

Though the weekend selection process and banquet was held in Marshfield, the event was hosted by the JCI Greenfield chapter. (JCI Wisconsin was formerly known as the Wisconsin Jaycees, an organization of young professionals, ages 18 to 40, who are developing personal and leadership skills and making a difference in their communities through volunteering.)

With each new day comes opportunity for growth and change; that’s why the Kuczers chose their joint career in farming-for the day-to-day challenges. Extremely proud of what they do, these beef producers are articulate spokespeople for Wisconsin agriculture, focused on making connections with other producers and especially the non-farm public.

They farm 443 acres (410 tillable), growing 220 acres of corn, 110 of soybeans, 40 of wheat and 50 of hay. What doesn’t feed their cattle (between 250 and 300 head) is sold as cash crops. The Kuczers source 300 to 400-pound Holstein calves and take them to finish. Being Wisconsin is the “Dairy State,” Adam notes “Holstein bull calves are easy to come by,” and he’s “always looking for good suppliers.” He follows a regular vaccination protocol. Cattle are raised in five lots and segregated. He markets at local auction barns, but is intent on increasing direct-to-the-consumer freezer-meat sales.

Adam was raised on his parents’ dairy farm (Tom and Linda Kuczer). From early on, he knew farming was the career for him. After high school, he attended Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and though he took a job in metal fabrication, he still helped out on the home farm. It wasn’t long before his dad approached Adam with the idea of working fulltime as the farm’s mechanic.

The first equipment Adam purchased was an excavator, which he used for ditching and clearing fence lines on the farm. He also did some custom work on his own, and over time, bought more machinery and then 120 acres, which he cash cropped, sharing equipment with his parents. The young producer’s finances were kept separate from his folks’ as he built equity and gained management experience.

In 2003, Adam married Rebecca, who was also from Pulaski, though not from a farm. Together, the newlyweds continued to work the farm, and built a new home. In 2007, the dairy cows were sold, as the younger generation transitioned the business to steers and cash crops. These 2012 state Outstanding Young Farmers purchased the operation in 2010.

Rebecca explains that the decision to raise steers instead of milking cows was based on how the two enterprises would “affect family.” Raising beef would “allow more time together” and provide more “flexibility with family” activities, she explains. The Kuczers have four children-Nicholas, 6; Sawyer, 4; and 1-year-old twins, Clara and Cadence. When she and Adam were called to the microphone to accept their prestigious award last weekend, Rebecca said “the day I found out I was having twins felt like I was dreaming.” Being named Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmers is every bit as dream-like. “Someone give me a pinch,” she said. “It doesn’t feel real!”

Rebecca later emphasized how a farm is a “great place to raise a family.” The Kuczer kids, she notes, spend many happy hours in their oversized sandbox, made with some 20 yards of sand.

Farming, however, has also held many challenges for this young family. Switching from dairy to beef demanded they extensively remodel facilities. Stalls were removed from the dairy barn, which was converted to storage. Lots were constructed for the cattle, as was drive-by bunk feeding. Heated waterers were added, along with a squeeze chute, scale and tub pen for handling, sorting and loading cattle. They redesigned their grain bin system, put up a 20 X 90 silo, built a new expanded feed room and re-roofed a barn.

In 2004-Adam and Rebecca’s first full year farming together-a long wet spring prevented planting. Rather than plant in July, they decided to use the rest of the year to tile their land. They bought a tile plow and installed 50,000 feet of drainage tile to improve their cropland. They installed another 50,000 feet two years later.

In 2007, Adam’s dad needed a second hip replacement. Having a strategic plan helped insure all the work could still get done and overcome that labor challenge. Finally, in 2010-the year the Kuczers purchased the farm-lightning caused a fire that destroyed a barn (storing all their dry hay) as well as a silo of high moisture corn.

Despite these adversities, the Kuczers persevered with their dreams and have continued to make progress.

Conservation is front and center in the operation. A duck scrape was constructed, and they’ve planted 5,000 black spruce and four one-acre foot plots for wildlife. Grass waterways and filter strips protect water quality. Adam does two-and-a-half-acre GPS grid soil testing and has built a variable rate fertilizer spreader, which saves money by better tailoring applications within fields and is better environmentally, too. He’s also switched from plowing to deep tillage to break compaction and allow better drainage. A single tillage pass in the spring saves fuel and keeps residue on top, preventing erosion and runoff. He uses a two-pass system for herbicide and nitrogen applications, and relies on an AgLeader monitoring system and GPS to monitor planting rates.

All this fine-tuning in the fields paid off last year, with some of his fields averaging 220 bushels of corn and 65 bushels of soybeans. Their goals are to acquire additional acreage to cash crop and maintain 300 head of cattle on their place at all times. They market 150 head a year. They’d also like to sell their beef directly to consumers, eventually being able to keep a state-approved freezer stocked with cuts.

Their focus on improvements also paid off by, of course, being selected from a field of eight candidates as Wisconsin’s Outstanding Young Farmers, by a trio of judges: Anne Berg, assistant vice president and team leaders with Badgerland Financial in Mondovi; Tom Drendel, former superintendent of the UW’s Marshfield Ag Research Station, now ag safety specialist with the National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield; and Doug Urban, registered Holstein and Brown Swiss breeder at Milladore and 1993 state OYF competitor.

The Kuczers are very active off their farm, especially with Farm Bureau. They’re serving on the state Farm Bureau Young Farmer Committee. Adam, 36, has also been Farm Bureau Young Farmer chair in his county for five years, and is presently Shawano County Farm Bureau vice president.

This couple participates in the Shawano County Brunch on the Farm, specifically organizing the kiddie pedal tractor pull. It’s an opportunity for them to “let people know where their food comes from,” says Rebecca. While they’re running this fun children’s event, she says “people find us very approachable.” It’s a natural venue for telling non-farmers about agriculture-something very important to the Kuczers, who are serious promoters of their industry. Adam feels it’s his responsibility to get involved, speak up and let the public know how he takes care of his animals and is intent on producing a “good quality product,” so “somebody else isn’t talking for us.”

Rebecca admits it’s a challenge trying to divvy up their time among the farm, family and their off-farm involvements. They enjoy networking with other young farmers through Farm Bureau, as well as last weekend’s OYF competition.

Adam is also involved in the Tri County Snow Riders snowmobile club and Pulaski Chase Cooperative. Rebecca is the reporter for the Northeastern Wisconsin Miniature Horse Club. She helps with chores on the farm and handles all the bookwork.

“We love to share what we do with others. What we do (i.e. farming) is so personal to us,” says Rebecca from her heart.


From “Whitney makes settling down difficult for gypsy moth in Wisconsin” —  

If you’re a gypsy moth bachelor seeking summer romance in western Wisconsin, chances are Chris Whitney will find you before you find a date.

Whitney is the trapping coordinator for the Wisconsin Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread (STS) Program at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Wisconsin is among several states involved in the STS Program, a national effort to postpone the establishment of gypsy moth in new areas.

For 14 years, Whitney has led a team of trappers around the state to set traps for gypsy moth.

“It’s an invasive species that needs to be monitored, and trapping is a way to show us where they are and where they are not,” Whitney said.

Trapping is just one phase of gypsy moth management. The others are egg mass survey and treatment. Data collected every fall from the trapping and egg mass surveys help the STS program determine which areas in western Wisconsin need treatment the following spring.

“To fight it, we need to know where it is. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know where to treat,” he said.

Before becoming the trapping coordinator, Whitney started as a trapper himself when he was still a science teacher in 1989. He also learned about the invasive gypsy moth for the first time.

“The caterpillar stage of its life cycle is the most destructive. Gypsy moth caterpillars are not very picky eaters. They have a big appetite for oaks as well as for hundreds of other kinds of trees and shrubs, and they only have a few natural enemies. So, they have the potential to cause heavy defoliation. In the adult or moth stage, they don’t eat anything and spend most of their time looking for a mate instead,” Whitney said.

The traps only catch male gypsy moths because the females cannot fly. Males find females by following a pheromone released by the females. This behavior is the key to capturing the moths. Lures in the traps mimic the female’s pheromone and attract interested males.

“In hopes of finding love, they find doom,” Whitney said.

Setting traps for gypsy moth not only taught Whitney new things, but it also sparked a new interest.

After 13 years of teaching, Whitney decided to change careers. He returned to school and attended Fox Valley Technical College where he earned a degree in Natural Resources Technology. After two years as a trapper and two years working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as its trapping coordinator, Whitney reached the position he is at today.

“It’s a nice balance between office and field work. I like to travel around the state and see a lot of cool stuff that I don’t normally see,” he said.

The trapping survey is conducted every summer in most of western Wisconsin. Eastern Wisconsin is considered to be generally infested with gypsy moth and therefore, is not surveyed.

Naturally on its own, gypsy moth spreads about three to five miles per year. However, with the aid of people, it spreads much quicker.

“Moving firewood, transplanting infected nursery stock, logging or moving outdoor household items that have gypsy moth egg masses on them all contribute to the spread,” Whitney said.

The STS Program has reduced the spread of gypsy moth nationally from 13 miles per year to five miles per year and provides a cost-to-benefit ratio of more than 3 to 1.

“It is the goal of our state and national programs to contain the spread to about six miles or less per year,” Whitney said.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a feasible way to get rid of all the gypsy moths, according to Whitney. They’re here to stay and in time, will inhabit the whole state.

“But, not without a fight,” he added. “We’re going to hold the gypsy moth back for as long as possible.”

Gypsy moth history

The U.S. “invasion” started when some gypsy moths escaped after an amateur entomologist brought them to Boston from Europe in the 1860s in a failed attempt to breed a hardier silkworm.

Wisconsin started surveying gypsy moth spread by trapping in 1969 when egg masses were discovered in Kenosha County.

Currently, gypsy moth has established itself throughout much of the Northeastern and Eastern United States, the Upper Midwest, and portions of Canada.

From greenbaypressgazette: “Welder-fabricator program unveiled at NWTC” — A welder-fabricator apprenticeship program starting at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College as early as next month is aimed at helping bolster the skills of the area work force while helping meet employer demand for workers with fabrication skills.

The apprenticeship program could start as early as February with an initial group of about one dozen participants in the four-year program, said Todd Kiel, NWTC apprenticeship manager.

It’s envisioned program participants will come from — and fill — jobs within the marine sector, paper industry and manufacturing sectors — to name a few. The program is designed to give participants an American Welding Society certification.

“A lot of people can get to that through the regular (welding) program, but there are a lot of businesses who want their guys to upgrade their skills and this fits in perfectly,” Kiel said. “We had a company call last week that could find welders but can’t find fabricators. We can give them credit for their welding and teach them the fabrication portion.”

About 90 percent of the program is on-the-job training from a skilled worker.

Larry Adamus, maintenance coordinator at Domtar Paper in Rothschild, said the apprentice program allows the mill to beef up the skills of its work force; something needed as more experienced workers move toward retirement age.

Domtar, which has several locations in Wisconsin, initially expects to send three people through the program, Adamus said.

Participants in the program are sponsored by their employers who

pay for employees to attend the 440 hours of required classes.

The program was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards and NWTC.

While the college offers a basic welding program, the welding-fabricator apprenticeship is designed to help teach welders some of the more advanced and niche skills needed in the workplace.

“With all the retirees coming, apprenticeship is going to be big, and these guys are going to have to learn on the fly,” said Scott Massey, welding instructor at the college. “We will cover some of the (welding) fundamentals when they come back, but we’ll also take it up to another level, and these new students will be allowed to move into more realistic situations from work.”

Troubleshooting and problem-solving are skills the program will include, he said.

“The companies I’ve seen show interest have been across the gamut from local fab shops that will build anything you want them to build to specialized shops like the shipyard or Oshkosh Truck and the sheet metal trades,” Massey said.

The program also is expected to train workers in skills that can be applied to green industries, such as the construction of wind turbines, said Owen Smith, Wisconsin Sector Alliance for the Green Economy outreach coordinator.

The welder-fabricator program is one of six apprenticeship programs developed through a $6 million SAGE grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is the second such program developed with NWTC.

Kiel said apprenticeship programs can help stabilize a work force by providing upgraded skills to the employee, who in turn, may be more likely to stay with their employer.

“There’s always a fear that once you credential people they’re going to leave, but generally speaking the opposite happens. They stick around and become more loyal,” he said. “It builds a higher-skilled, more competitive work force from the employer’s perspective, and it creates an employee who knows you want them around because the employer) is investing in them.”

Kiel said beyond the first group of workers, he doesn’t know what kind of numbers to expect, but he pointed out the program could be run on other NWTC campuses if needed.

From “Residents are heading to the ER instead of the dentist for tooth problems” — Eau Claire (WQOW) – A health care need is playing out in the ER, but perhaps not the way you think.

Last month, there were 57 visits to the ER at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire for oral health problems.  The hospital says that number has been fairly consistent the past few years.

“It’s pretty common, it’s usually one or two a shift,” says Dr. Chris Felton, Sacred Heart Hospital Emergency Medicine Physician.

However, there’s little Felton can do.

“For a typical toothache we’ll place them on an oral antibiotic and an oral pain medicine,” says Felton.  “Sometimes we can perform a dental block depending on the location of the tooth involved.”

The dental hygiene program at Chippewa Valley Technical College is a low-cost option.

“We can provide oral surgery services, endodontic which is root canal service, we do some limited crowns if they’re approved, we do cleanings,” says Pam Entorf, CVTC Dental Hygiene Program Director.

CVTC says it’s seeing an increase in numbers, up to 200 patients a week not including cleanings.  Both the college and hospital say it boils down to a lack of dental coverage.

“I have seen this, just in general, is patients I would see in a private office that had dental insurance, have lost their job, lost their insurance, haven’t been to the dentist for several years because they couldn’t afford to go,” says Entorf.

“We’re happy to see anyone that wants to be seen, but there are a number of patients that don’t have dental coverage and could be more efficiently managed if they were able to get in to see a dentist,”  says Felton.

Dental health can play a big part in overall health.

“The oral health and systemic health or overall body health, if you have an infection in your mouth it can cause all kinds of negative things,” says Entorf.

CVTC says of their patients, six to 12 a month are referrals from ER’s.  Entorf says they try to get them in that day or the next.

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From “New Statewide Apprenticeship Program” — Green Bay, WI – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College announcing a new statewide apprenticeship program. The program will offer hands-on training for two high demand manufacturing skills in Wisconsin welding and fabrication. NWTC leaders and the Department of Workforce Development got a tour of the learning facilities this morning.

Owen Smith, Sage Outreach Program said, “We have met one of the key needs for heavy manufacturers in Northeast Wisconsin, as well as provided an integrated program for 2 occupations that are critical to green skill training and green manufacturing in Wisconsin.”

The Welder-Fabricator Program is one of six new apprenticeship programs to be developed through a six-million-dollar grant from the US Department of Labor and the second at NWTC.

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From “Janesville working with medical isotope maker on incentive agreement” — JANESVILLE — Community leaders were thrilled Tuesday that SHINE Medical Technologies selected Janesville over two other communities for a facility that will produce medical isotopes and create more than 100 high-paying jobs by 2015.

But they remain cautious, tempering their excitement with the reality that several steps remain before medical isotopes leave Rock County for health centers around the world.

City officials have been working with SHINE for months to site the plant in Janesville. The Middleton-based company also considered locations in Stevens Point and Chippewa Falls.

After months of closed-session strategy sessions, the city council directed staff to forward a revised developer’s agreement to SHINE. It was sent late last week.

For the most part, the agreement is acceptable, said Greg Piefer, SHINE’s founder and chief executive officer.

“We feel that we’re close enough that we can work it out,” Piefer said. “The fundamentals are all there. We just need to do what we would call ‘wordsmithing.'”

The city council is expected to vote on the agreement Monday, Feb. 13. Details, including specific employment benchmarks and incentives the city is offering, will be released before the council meeting.

Janesville Economic Development Director Vic Grassman said the city worked hard to make itself attractive to SHINE while protecting the city’s interests. The economic and financial incentives—which he would not release Tuesday—are tied to specific benchmarks SHINE must meet throughout its regulatory, construction and production processes.

The new plant would make SHINE the first large-scale domestic supplier of molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in more than 30 varieties of diagnostic imaging procedures. Each day in the United States alone, medical professionals perform more than 50,000 diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures that rely on moly-99.

SHINE plans to use a proprietary manufacturing process and technology that Piefer said offers significant advantages over existing production technologies. It will not use highly enriched uranium and will not require a nuclear reactor. Its process, he said, will generate hundreds of times less waste than any current moly-99 production process.

Piefer said the Janesville plant would produce enough of the moly-99 isotope for approximately 10 million diagnostic and treatment procedures each year, representing approximately one-half of the U.S. need for moly-99.

“SHINE is an exciting project, an exciting company for the community,” City Manager Eric Levitt said. “But it is not a done deal and won’t be until the city council votes on it in February.”

In December, the council agreed to spend just more than $1.5 million to buy an 84-acre parcel on Highway 51 south of the city as the potential home for SHINE. The city plans to annex the parcel and fold it into the existing Tax Increment Financing District 35 just to the northeast.

Piefer said the plant must satisfy a litany of federal regulations before it begins production. The company has been doing environmental assessments at the site since October.

If all goes well on the federal level, Piefer said construction could start in the next 18 to 24 months, with production starting in 2015. Salaries, he said, will be about $50,000 to $60,000 per year for production workers.

“We plan to pay our people well,” he said. “It will be a highly efficient operation, and our people need to be highly disciplined.”

He said the company is excited to join the community as an employer and corporate citizen. He will meet next week with officials at Blackhawk Technical College to discuss programming for potential employees.

“Janesville worked very hard with us,” he said. “The thing that was most important to us was to feel welcome in the community, and we got that from all three communities, but it was loud and clear in Janesville and left no room for doubt.”

Also tipping the scale in Janesville’s favor is the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport just across Highway 51.

“When you produce a product that decays 1 percent every hour, that proximity is important,” Piefer said, noting that Janesville also is closer to SHINE’s major customers in St. Louis and Boston.

In Rock County, SHINE could join another medical isotope maker, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which plans to build a $194 million plant in Beloit and create more than 150 jobs by 2016.

SHINE and NorthStar are two of just four U.S. companies supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration as it pushes for a more reliable and diverse supply of Moly-99.

“This in combination with the Northstar project in Beloit would really put a whole different halo on our Rock County brand,” said John Beckord, president of Forward Janesville.

Beckord said SHINE and Northstar represent a new model of manufacturing for the county. The potential for spin-off projects and ancillary businesses is significant, he said.

“We’ve been talking about diversification for years, even when the auto industry was strong,” he said. “Having SHINE in Janesville—assuming it all falls into place—really moves us down that path of diversification.

“And this is not the type of operation you can just pick up and move, so there are no outsourcing issues.”

Founded in 2010, SHINE Medical Technologies is based on inventions co-licensed with Phoenix Nuclear Labs, which operates a lab in Middleton.

Earlier this year, SHINE secured $11 million in venture equity funding for further development of its technology.

Mary Willmer-Sheedy, co-chairwoman of the public-private Rock County 5.0 economic development initiative, said Tuesday’s news was good.

“We’re thrilled that SHINE is committed to Rock County,” she said. “SHINE will join a host of other medical businesses in the community that make up a strong medical sector.

“They recognize the attributes of Rock County and the talented workforce we have here.”


Molybdenum-99 is a medical isotope used in more than 30 varieties diagnostic imaging procedures. Each day in the United States alone, more than 50,000 diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures take place that rely on moly-99.

It is primarily used for detecting heart disease and determining stages of cancer progression, according to SHINE officials.

“The medically important isotope, moly-99, is crucial to the successful diagnosis of cancer and heart disease throughout the world,” said Dr. Richard Steeves, professor emeritus of human oncology at UW-Madison. “With moly-99, physicians can determine the extent to which heart disease or cancer has spread, information which is critical to successful treatment.”

Historically, most moly-99 used in the United States has been produced in Canada and the Netherlands using highly enriched uranium placed in high power research reactors, SHINE said in a news release.

Both the Canadian and Netherlands reactors are operating beyond their originally licensed life and unscheduled shutdowns of the reactors in 2009 and 2010 caused worldwide shortages of moly-99 leading to the delay or cancellation of millions of medical procedures.

From “Marketing campaign aims to recruit factory workers” — 

The Waukesha County Business Alliance said Wednesday that it has selected Scheibel Halaska as the agency to design and implement Wisconsin’s “Dream it. Do it.” manufacturing career-building initiative.

“Dream it. Do it.” is a national recruitment strategy sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers.

“The campaign is designed to re-brand the manufacturing industry as an industry providing high-paying, high-quality careers,” the WCBA said in an emailed statement.

The campaign is targeted at young people ages 17 to 27. Wisconsin will be the 20th region nationally to implement the program after a statewide license was secured by the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Manufacturers in the state have repeatedly said that finding qualified workers with the skills needed to operate complex, computer-controlled machinery is the top business challenge they face.

The initiative will first be implemented in the Milwaukee 7 economic development region, with the WCBA leading the program. Eventually, the program will be unveiled statewide. “The region will serve as a successful foundation for a statewide adoption in subsequent phases of the initiative,” according to the statement.

The program will begin with the development and launch of a careers website.

“A foundational element of the website will be tools and resources to support area manufacturers in becoming better at attracting, retaining and engaging next generation workers,” according to the statement.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is a countywide chamber of commerce with over 900 member companies, representing more than 60,000 employees.

From “Welder-Fabricator Apprenticeship Program introduced at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College” — GREEN BAY – The Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) introduced the new Welder-Fabricator apprenticeship program today, January 25, in Green Bay. The program is the second apprenticeship developed in partnership with NWTC and the fourth under the federal Sectors Alliance for the Green Economy (SAGE) grant.

“This program showcases the responsiveness and flexibility of apprenticeship in meeting workforce training needs in the green economy,” said Lisa Boyd, Administrator for the DWD’s Division of Employment and Training. “Welding and fabricating are integral to producing components of renewable energy systems and energy efficient products. The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards, in partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, worked jointly to develop this comprehensive apprenticeship program.”

The Welder-Fabricator apprenticeship was developed in response to the needs of Wisconsin’s heavy manufacturing sector. It offers hands-on learning for two high-demand occupations in heavy manufacturing (welding and fabrication) in a single program. It follows a hybrid model in which apprentices are assessed on-the-job using a combination of time and competencies. The program is structured for four years, or 8,000 hours, including 7,560 hours on-the-job learning and 440 hours of related instruction.

“Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is very excited about our ability to offer the Welder- Fabrication apprenticeship,” said Todd A. Kiel, Apprenticeship Manager for NWTC. “We feel it gives us a full range of offerings that provide access to credentials for our constituents. With the increased demand for heavy manufacturing in Northeast Wisconsin, this cannot come at a better time.”

The Welder-Fabricator program is the fourth of six new apprenticeship programs to be developed through the $6 million SAGE project grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. SAGE’s purpose is to employ short and long-term strategies critical to the greening of Wisconsin’s workforce by forming partnerships with businesses, educators and other stakeholders to identify and address labor force needs specific to “green” or clean energy jobs in construction, manufacturing and utility industries.

From “Higher ed getting nimble to meet industry needs” —  MADSON – When the leaders of the biotechnology program at Madison College saw an industry need for laboratory technicians who could work with all types of stem cells, they hustled to come up with a plan.

After discussing the idea with college administrators and board members, the biotech faculty forged ahead with a proposal that attracted National Science Foundation support as well as backing from private companies.

Last week, less than three years after the stem cell education sequence was launched with humble facilities, a gleaming Advanced Cell Culture Education lab opened in remodeled space with state-of-the-art equipment. It will immediately triple the capacity of the college (formerly known as Madison Area Technical College) to graduate students with hands-on experience in growing and analyzing all types of stem cells and other advanced cells.

Across Wisconsin, there are other examples of colleges and universities – especially two-year institutions such as those in the Wisconsin Technical College System – of turning on a dime to meet industry needs and trends.

Those trends range from the need for lab technicians who understand the exacting protocols of working with stem cells, which are the building blocks for all types of human cells, to helping businesses find tech-savvy production workers or information technology specialists.

The notion of higher education becoming more nimble is gaining national attention, especially at a time when Wisconsin and the United States are grappling with the “job paradox” – the gap between high unemployment and skilled positions going unfilled for lack of trained (or trainable) workers.

It’s also part of the debate over the costs of higher education, not only for taxpayers in states where budgets are strapped, but for students themselves, who sometimes amass onerous debts related to the cost of earning a four-year degree but find themselves lacking marketable skills.

Layer on to those challenges the issue of an aging workforce – something that worries Wisconsin employers as the baby boom generation begins to retire – and the need for collaborative, cost-effective solutions emerges.

“Houston, we have a problem, and it’s not that too few people are going to college,” said Michael Bettersworth, an associate vice chancellor at the Texas State Technical College System. “It’s that too many people are getting degrees with limited value in the job market.”

Texas is an example of a state where all of the same problems that confront Wisconsin are coming to a head, and made even more pressing because the economy there is growing at the fastest rate in the nation. In Texas, some companies are manufacturing in community colleges to produce the workers they need.

Economic recovery is also under way in Wisconsin, which means it will be vital for policy-makers, business leaders and educators to embrace ideas that will create a sustained supply of skilled, adaptable workers.

Partnerships with business and higher education in Wisconsin are not uncommon, and they range from enduring relationships between industry and technical colleges (Snap-on and Gateway Technical College, for example) to broader industry consortia such as those at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

The question is whether enough is changing, and fast enough, to meet the needs of Wisconsin industry in search of skilled workers.

Gov. Scott Walker announced last week he will create a College and Workforce Readiness Council to focus on closing the skills gap and designing “shorter, less costly degree programs” to fill the need for skilled technical workers. Members of the Wisconsin Legislature have introduced their own ideas, as well. One such bill would allow the unemployed to continue receiving jobless benefits as they take special occupational training. Another would allow the state Department of Workforce Development to recruit laid-off workers to be trained by businesses.

Higher education has a stake in helping students earn degrees faster – and to help those same students pursue degrees that are right for them. Not every college degree is directly marketable, of course, nor will it be in an economy so prone to technical change. But even the holder of a classic liberal arts degree should emerge with communications, creativity and teamwork skills, all of which are essential in the modern marketplace.

There’s also a misperception – often among parents of college-bound students – that the worst bachelor’s degree is worth more than the best associate degree. In today’s economy, that’s no longer true, which means the burden falls on parents and high-school counselors to present an array of career options.

Higher education must learn to be quicker on its feet, and traditional industries must do a better job of portraying a 21st century image. Both are essential for Wisconsin to meet its workforce challenges, today and tomorrow.

From “Western Technical College honored in State Senate” — MADISON, Wis. — Western Technical College was honored in the State Senate Tuesday. Lawmakers passed a resolution on the floor honoring Western during their centennial year.

State Senator Jennifer Shilling says Western continues to be highly respected in Wisconsin.  Shilling says in these tough economic times, Western shows it can help workers, businesses and the community. “Western Tech has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to react to changes in the local economy in a way that is both nimble and innovative in order to best serve businesses and workers in our region,” says Senator Shilling.

Western President Lee Rasch and V.P. Mike Pieper were at the capitol for the vote.

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From “SHINE selects Janesville for biomed plant” — SHINE Medical Technologies of Middleton said Tuesday it will construct an $85 million manufacturing plant in Janesville that will employ more than 100 people with average salaries of $60,000 a year.

The company, which produces medical isotopes and cancer treatment elements, selected Janesville over Chippewa Falls, Stevens Point and locations in Louisiana and New Mexico.

Construction on the 35,000- to 50,000-square-foot facility won’t begin until the company gets approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a process expected to take 18 to 24 months, according to Greg Piefer, SHINE’s founder and chief executive officer.

“The community is great. Janesville has a lot of good people, the city leadership was really willing to work with this, and they were adaptive to our needs,” Piefer said. “There’s a feeling there that the city is trying to reinvent itself and we can be a part of that story.”

The General Motors Assembly plant in Janesville is idle, and several businesses that supplied parts and support to the plant have closed. The city is working to attract a diverse swath of businesses, especially those in the medical field.

The new facility is expected to open in 2015 and be located on 84 acres of land, much of it being used for a radiological and security buffer zone. The plant would be on the east side of Highway 51 across from the airport and just north of West Enterprise Drive.

SHINE, or Subcritical Hybrid Intense Neutron Emitter, will make molybdenum-99. When it decays, it produces technetium-99m, used in nuclear imaging procedures used on thousands of patients every day, and currently in short supply.

In 2011, SHINE secured $11 million in venture equity for the project, Piefer said.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Feb. 13 on an incentive package for SHINE, but details have not been disclosed. The company will also work with Blackhawk Technical College to develop a curriculum to train potential employees, said Vic Grassman, the city’s economic development director.

“We believe it is a significant new addition to Janesville,” Grassman said. “I can’t define a higher level of advance manufacturing. It transforms the image of Janesville.”

From “Development of dental care programs at Nicolet continues” —  Nicolet Area Technical College is on track to begin offering two new dental care programs to students beginning with the spring 2013 semester. That’s according to Kenneth Urban, vice president of Teaching, Learning and Student Success, who discussed the potential implementation date for the new offerings as part of a report to Nicolet’s board of trustees Tuesday night.

The board previously approved the scope proposal for the new programs at its November meeting — a two-year dental hygienist associate degree and a one-semester dental assistant program. That proposal awaits approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) board, and is only a preliminary analysis of the potential demand for the dental care programs and rough cost estimates. Once that is complete, Urban told board members that a more detailed proposal on the course offerings themselves would be coming before them in March. State approval would then be expected in May.

“We haven’t set an implementation date,” Urban said. “A lot will depend on when the facilities are done. We need (state) approval on the programs before we can start marketing them.”

The plan is to house the dental care offerings in the new Peter Christensen Dental Clinic currently being constructed in Lac du Flambeau. That facility will provide Nicolet with the classroom space and equipment needed for the programs, leaving only instructor salaries as the sole cost the college will have to take on.

Nicolet President Elizabeth Burmaster said she and other college officials have already budgeted for two instructors for the programs to start in the fall. They will be responsible for getting the programs officially accredited. The actual curriculum has already been established within the WTCS. Eight of the 16 WTCS technical colleges currently offer the two-year dental hygienist associate degree.

“Every one of them has a waiting list,” Urban said. “There’s a huge need for this.”

From “CVTC Wins Award for Workforce Development Partnership” — Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), along with the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC), received recognition at the 2011 Mid-America Competitiveness Conference & Site Selector Forum in Chicago on December 5, 2011. The Mid-America Economic Development Council (MAEDC) awarded CVTC and the CCEDC The Best of the Midwest Award for their joint efforts with the Workforce Development program-Critical Core Manufacturing Skills (CCMS).  Charlie Walker, CCEDC President/ CEO, attended the conference and accepted the award on behalf of CCEDC and CVTC.

CCMS was created to help provide Chippewa Valley businesses and their employees with critical skills in productivity, teamwork, problem solving, and adaptability. Such training strengthens the area’s workforce and is an asset to attracting businesses to Chippewa County.

Now in its second year, the CCMS training consortium program is once again a partnership between CVTC and the CCEDC. At of the end of 2011, over 300 employees from 20 Chippewa Valley companies have received a technical certificate in CCMS for completing all 12 training modules. In 2012 another 275 workers from 14 manufacturers have enrolled in the training.

“This cutting-edge training helps the region’s skilled workers be even more competitive,” says Tim Shepardson, CVTC’s Chippewa Falls Campus manager, who worked with Charlie to develop the training consortium.  “Receiving this award is just icing on the cake to all the great work our group has done to get this training in place and to benefit the employers in our area.”

Participating businesses have reported employee benefits, such as thinking outside the box, making wise decisions that help their company, and using a strong team approach, Tim notes.

Financial support to subsidize the training cost has come from two Workforce Advancement Training (WAT) grants from the Wisconsin Technical College System, the first of which was used to launch the program. The grant was renewed in June 2011 for the current academic year.

“We’re eager to build on the number of regional workers who receive this vital training, which strengthens businesses,” Tim says. “Additional companies are invited to participate.”

For more information on the training consortium, contact Tim Shepardson at 715-738-6454.

From “Engaging students with techie devices” — Electronic tablets, high-definition video screens — even a computer workstation mounted onto a treadmill — these are some examples of new technologies boosting active-learning strategies on college campuses.

SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs) is an approach to teaching classes, both small and large, that has been adapted by more than 50 colleges and universities across the country.

Based on a classroom configuration that seats the pupils in small groups around tables with several laptops, the idea is to get students working together and to give them an opportunity to immediately explore concepts presented in the lecture. And the instructor, instead of being stationed at a lectern in the front, moves around the classroom to further engage the students in discussion.

At Carthage College in Kenosha, several physics classes are presented through an approach inspired by the SCALE-UP model, explained Jean M. Quashnock, PhD, professor and chair of the physics and astronomy department. The college’s studio physics format combines lecture and lab in two-hour classes that meet three times a week; the 24 students sit in groups of four.

“There is more of an emphasis on hands-on learning, and less of an emphasis on lecturing,” he said. Research has shown that students synthesize the material better this way, he added.

iPads as textbooks 

Electronic tablets, such as iPads, present many options for teaching. At the Milwaukee Area Technical College, students rely on iPads in the machine shops to reference information while working on the machines.

Instructor Tom Olson says using the iPads (which remain in the room for class-use only) is more efficient than looking through handbooks. Students also have access to the entire curriculum online, and can research the Internet for additional information, such as instructive videos.

“The students are learning quicker,” he said. “This also helps students get comfortable with technology if they had not worked with computers previously.”

Olson added that local companies are looking at ways to become “paperless shops,” and electronic tablets are one way to accomplish that. “The machining environment is not the friendliest environment for electronic devices, but we protect the iPads with OtterBoxes and haven’t had a single problem.”

Teaching goes high definition  

Many colleges with multiple campuses offer courses via video conferencing. TelePresence is an upgraded, video conferencing technology, designed by Cisco, to give participants at different sites the feeling that they are together in the same room.

Moraine Park Technical College has one TelePresence room on each campus in West Bend, Fond du Lac and Beaver Dam. In these classrooms, students sit at a conference-style table and face large video screens, which show the students at the other locations, sitting in identical conference rooms.

With the immersive nature of the high-definition video and audio technology, and the use of identical furniture and wall paint in the rooms, TelePresence makes it appear that the students at the other campuses are sitting right by you, noted Peter Rettler, West Bend and online campus and community partner for the college.

“Students report that within 15 minutes, they don’t feel like they are in different rooms,” he said.

Video conferencing enables students to more conveniently take classes, Rettler explained. A course that has a small number of students enrolled at each campus can be offered at each site through interactive video conferencing, rather than requiring the students to travel to a distant campus.

With TelePresence, there is the opportunity to connect to hundreds of schools worldwide, and to connect with experts in a subject matter, noted Brian Carlson, interim manager of teaching and learning technology at MATC.

MATC, which currently uses another form of video conferencing at its campuses, plans to begin using TelePresence in fall 2012 or spring 2013. “Each campus will have one TelePresence room,” Carlson said.

New ways to work

At Milwaukee School of Engineering, industrial engineering students can try out a new idea for working on a computer while walking. The Steelcase Walkstation has an adjustable-height, electric work surface incorporated into the design of a low-speed treadmill.

“It’s a demonstration device. The Walkstation is a way to get a worker moving so he or she is not sedentary all day. The student using it can slowly walk while studying, doing research or writing a paper,” said Charlene Yauch, PhD, associate professor and program director of the MSOE industrial engineering program.

Also in that lab, the Steelcase Media:scape helps make working as a group more convenient. Media:scape enables up to six laptops to be connected to one large screen, so students do not have to huddle around a small laptop screen.

But it’s not always technology that makes learning more engaging. The MSOE Industrial Engineering Process Innovation Lab has a lounge area that includes two couches. “I had envisioned the students just relaxing on the couches,” Yauch said, “but they actually love to do work while sitting on the couches, so it’s become more of a workspace too.”

From “Mid-State Technical College receives merit award” —  Mid-State Technical College has received the annual Merit Award from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting for achieving a 92 percent graduate pass rate on the Certified Surgical Technologist examination for 2011. The pass rate evaluated by the board for 2011 included all current and previous graduates testing in the program during the calendar year.

Graduates obtaining national certification as a Certified Surgical Technologist demonstrate understanding of the basic competencies for safe patient care in the operating room.  The Certified Surgical Technologist is widely recognized in the healthcare community as the foremost credential for surgical technologists in the nation.  It is required for employment within many local, state, and national healthcare organizations.  There are criteria that surgical technologist must meet in order to qualify to take the examination.

“92 percent is an outstanding accomplishment,” said Service and Health Associate Dean Deb Clarke in the press release.  “We are excited about the possibility of similar results this year.”

For more information about how you can join one of Mid-State’s engaging programs, call 1-888-575-MSTC or visit

From “New credit transfer agreement for Chippewa Valley Technical College graduates” — Graduates of Chippewa Valley Technical College will find it easier than ever to transfer their associate degree credits to the University of Wisconsin-Superior following a new agreement between the university and the college.

Under the agreement, students earning the Liberal Arts – Associate of Science Degree at CVTC campuses in Eau Claire, River Falls and Menominee can transfer their academic credits to UW-Superior and meet all of the university’s general education degree requirements. That means CVTC graduates can more easily transfer all their courses to UW-Superior and enter the university as juniors.

CVTC’s program requires completion of part of the Associate of Science Degree through courses offered by a baccalaureate university. Students may complete the degree at CVTC by taking online courses from UW-Superior, providing flexibility with job or personal commitments.

“Working with CVTC, this agreement enables us to take another step in the University of Wisconsin System’s Growth Agenda of producing more university graduates in Wisconsin,” said Dr. Faith Hensrud, interim provost at UW-Superior.

The agreement takes effect for students enrolling at UW-Superior beginning in January 2012.  CVTC students or graduates seeking more information can contact UW-Superior at 715-394-8230 or

From “Friends of Fox Valley Technical College support projects” — GRAND CHUTE — Businessman Mike Weller is all in on Fox Valley Technical College’s proposal to spend $66.5 million in building improvements to deal with bulging enrollments, crowded facilities and the growing need for a skilled and trained work force.

“Demand for skilled employees in public safety, health care, transportation and agriculture is at an all-time high, and there is a strong demand for graduates,” said Weller, president of ITW Welding North America and Miller Electric Mfg.

“We need to invest in FVTC’s facilities now if we want to give the next generation of graduates — and the local businesses that need their skills as well as the college’s workplace training expertise — the competitive edge they’ll need in today’s economy,” he said.

Weller is the treasurer of Friends of FVTC, an advocacy group formed to raise awareness and public support for the April 3 building referendum. The group will kick off its TechWorks campaign on Saturday with events in the Town of Menasha and Oshkosh.

Weller, along with FVTC marketing and sales student Devan Kuether, 20, of Oshkosh, say the projects will have a positive impact on the regional economy as well.

“It’s really going to benefit not only students but the entire community,” Kuether said.

Last Tuesday, FVTC’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved two resolutions authorizing the referendum and borrowing of up to $66.5 million for seven proposed projects at the state’s busiest technical school, which served 53,000 students in 2011.

The largest of the projects is the $32.5 million public safety training center proposed for construction on 74 acres of leased land on the south end of the Outagamie County Regional Airport, Greenville.

Other projects proposed for the Grand Chute campus include an $11.9 million health simulation and technology center, $7.4 million student success center, $6.2 million transportation center expansion and $3.5 million agriculture center expansion.

The referendum package also includes borrowing $1 million to purchase land next to the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Oshkosh for future expansion, $1.4 million to buy the Chilton Regional Center that the college currently leases and $300,000 to add a classroom/lab to the Chilton facility.

Besides demand from local employers, FVTC officials have cited an unprecedented 30 percent enrollment growth the past three years, historic low borrowing costs and probable competitive construction bidding as key factors supporting the comprehensive facilities plan.

From “CVTC’s nanotechnology program being retooled” —  About 5½ years after it began, Chippewa Valley Technical College’s nanotechnology program is changing to fit the direction the industry is going.

When the college first began offering courses in 2005, the field of nanotechnology was geared toward very small electronics.

“The projections we had in that early 2003 to ’05 period was that was expected to grow,” said Mark Hendrickson, CVTC’s dean of manufacturing.

With Hutchinson Technology Inc. in Eau Claire reducing its local operations, the need for jobs that dealt with nano-size electronics waned, but applications for materials made or examined at the near-microscopic level spread to other industries.

CVTC analyzed the area’s need to find different sectors that have begun using nanotechnology jobs and discovered that the food industry applies some of those principles in quality control and food preservation.

“All of those are tied to micro- and nanotechnology,” Hendrickson said.

Companies dealing with agriculture, meat and dairy processing are looking toward nanotechnology to meet higher food safety regulations approved last year by President Barack Obama, he said.

CVTC already has worked with River Falls material development company Inforfacial Solutions to use nanotechnology to improve the seals on prepackaged meals and detect how long it will take for the contents to spoil.

Instead of focusing on jobs at firms such as Cray, TTM Technologies and HTI, Hendrickson said more nanotechnology careers these days are found at, among others, Nestlé, ConAgra, Silver Spring Foods, McCain Foods, Jack Links, Grassland Dairy, Ellsworth Creamery, Bush Brothers and even pet food manufacturers.

Food safety is one of three emphases the retooled nanotechnology program will have when it is scheduled to debut next fall.

“We think the new approach we will offer will give students opportunities in many different areas,” said Ellen Kirking, CVTC’s vice president of education.

As part of the revamped program, students could spend their second year learning about nano-engineering in the electronics and biotech fields or take the manufacturing engineering tract to learn quality improvement for metals, plastics and assembly processes.

At its highest, the current nanotechnology program had 28 students enrolled and about 100 have graduated from it since it began in 2005. Enrollment was suspended in January 2011, but 13 students are still finishing the current version of the program before the revamped one begins next fall.

Hendrickson estimates about 60 percent of the current curriculum will be part of the next version of the program.

The college updates its offerings every year to meet job demands, and nanotechnology is not the only program going through changes, CVTC officials said. For instance, while enrollment had been strong, CVTC’s hotel and restaurant management program is being discontinued so the college can shift resources toward culinary arts, Kirking said.

There’s a higher local demand for students educated in the culinary arts and food preparation, she said, noting CVTC is in the process of developing curriculum and writing a budget, and it still needs to get state approval for a culinary arts program. The earliest it would begin would be fall 2013, Kirking said.

From “Fox Valley Technical College board approves $66.5M referendum” — GRAND CHUTE — Voters in nine counties will be asked April 3 to approve a $66.525 million capital facilities referendum for Fox Valley Technical College, the state’s busiest technical school.

The FVTC Board of Trustees has approved two resolutions authorizing the referendum and borrowing of up to $66.525 million for seven proposed capital facilities projects.

The largest of the projects is a $32.5 million public safety training center proposed for construction on 75 acres of leased land on the south end of the Outagamie County Regional Airport in Greenville.

“We are sensitive to the current economic situation and its impact on the many families in this region,” said FVTC board Chairman Bill Fitzpatrick. “But we also know that this college plays a critical role in rebuilding the local economy by giving workers the skills they need for sustainable employment.”

Proposed projects at the Grand Chute campus include an $11.9 million health simulation and technology center, $7.4 million student success center, $6.2 million transportation center expansion, and $3.5 million agriculture center expansion. Also proposed are $1 million to purchase land next to the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Oshkosh, $1.4 million to buy the leased Chilton Regional Center and $300,000 to add a classroom/lab to the Chilton facility.

Growing demands from area employers for skilled workers, an unprecedented 30 percent enrollment growth the past three years, limited facilities, historic low borrowing costs and probable competitive construction bidding were key factors cited by officials to support pursuit of a comprehensive capital facilities plan.

Last year, FVTC served 53,000 individuals. “That’s more people than any other technical college in the state, more than Milwaukee, more than Madison,” Fitzpatrick said.

If voters approve the referendum, FVTC will be authorized to borrow the necessary funds over two years. The property tax impact on the owner of a $100,000 home is estimated not to exceed $12.50 annually with the $66.5 million borrowed over 15 years using conservative interest rate projections.

The referendum, FVTC’s first in 14 years, will require approval of voters in all or parts of nine counties, including Brown, Calumet, Manitowoc, Outagamie, Portage, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago.


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