June 12, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “Tech Knowledge College shifting focus to high school students” – ROCK TOWNSHIP — Tech Knowledge College will be reborn this summer, but this time it’s for disadvantaged high school students rather than middle-schoolers.
The pre-college summer program at Blackhawk Technical College’s central campus gave middle-schoolers a hands-on feel for programs the campus offered. It continued for many years but died as part of belt-tightening measures in 2012. The new program will have the same name, but it will focus on sharpening high school students’ math and English skills so they can do well on college-entrance exams and become better prepared for college, said Stephanie Williams, student engagement coordinator.
National studies have shown that upwards of 60 percent of high school graduates who enter community colleges need remedial classes before they can take college-level courses in math and English.
At Blackhawk Technical College, 57.7 percent of the 2012 high school graduates who enrolled last fall needed remedial coursework in writing, as determined by entrance tests. Of those same students, 45.7 percent needed remediation in math and 33.7 percent in reading. Tech Knowledge College would benefit any student that plans on attending any college or university, Williams said.
The program, funded through the state Department of Public Instruction, will be able to take 80 students, divided into two sessions, Williams said. Tech Knowledge College Camp will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the weeks of July 8-12 and July 22-26. The program is free to students entering ninth, 10, 11th or 12th grades this fall and who meet household income guidelines.
Campers also will be able to explore two of five Blackhawk Technical College program options. They can choose from culinary arts, health care, information technology, welding and public safety.
Students will begin the camp with a test so they know where they need to improve, Williams said. The program is open to any income-eligible high school student in the college’s district, which comprises most of Rock and Green counties. Free bus transportation will be provided each day from Beloit Memorial, Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker high schools. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Program availability will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis until each camp is filled.
June 10, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Job prospects on tentative rise for graduates” – Derek Rice thought about going back to school.
A couple of years ago his employer at Menlo Worldwide Logistics in Beloit passed over him for a promotion because he didn’t have a college degree.
“I’ve got 10-plus years of warehouse experience. You name it I’ve done it,” the 36-year-old Janesville resident said. “They were hell-bent on having someone with a degree, and it didn’t matter if it was related to warehousing or not.”
He then got another job in Janesville after a worker was out recovering from a surgery. Even after he was told it was a permanent position he was let go after the worker returned.
After that he talked with his wife, Danielle, and they decided he should go back to school to get his associate’s degree at Blackhawk Technical College. The decision wasn’t easy having two kids at the time, and recently welcoming a third, but Danielle’s job in healthcare allowed them to live off the one salary. He recently graduated with a degree in Information Technology Network Specialist.
“I’ve always worked on computers on the side at my home,” he said. “First time I went to college was for computers so I’ve always liked working with them.”
Recent graduates are still feeling the affects of the recession even though the market seems to be improving. Jeff Scott, IT instructor at Blackhawk Technical College, said graduating students are not only competing against their peers, but also against other workers who have lost jobs due to downsizing in the workforce.
“Right now it’s more of an employer’s market versus an employee’s market,” Scott said. “So in some ways potential employers have the pick as far as if they want someone with more experience. So what I tell students is, ‘What you have to realize is much of the experience you have is very relevant and new compared to those that have been downsized.’”
However information technology jobs is one area that is seeing growth in the average number of employees. Towards the end of 2011 there were about 1,100 jobs in information technology in Rock County, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). In the fourth quarter of 2012 there were more than 1,300 IT jobs in Rock County.
“It’s kind of across the board,” said Dave Winters, chief labor economist at DWD, on the average job increases. “We’re seeing it in construction, manufacturing, professional and business services, IT and healthcare.”
Construction added about 400 jobs between 2011 and 2012 going from 2,200 to more than 2,600 average employees in Rock County. Manufacturing grew by nearly 600 positions up to 9,032. Health services positions grew by about 400 positions between 2011 and 2012
Statewide the numbers are similar to the county numbers. About 395,600 were employed in the health services in 2012 compared to 390,300 in 2011. Construction workers by about 1,000 workers up to 93,000 and manufacturing grew by about 10,000 from 443,000 to 453,000.
Winters said there a couple different factors economists look at when determining the strength of the job market such as the unemployment rate and income tax revenue generated by the state.
Cathy Wickersham, director of community based learning at Beloit College, said the college works closely with the students through all four years.
Both Wickersham and Scott said having internships on a resume has significantly helped recent graduates over the last several years. Beloit College now requires students to do a unit incorporating some aspect outside the classroom.
“In terms of surveying employers what most want from college graduates is the ability to think critically, communicate effectively and also they are looking for students who have demonstrated an ability to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and take it beyond the classroom,” Wickersham said.
Scott tells students to emphasize internship experience on their resume when applying for jobs.
“It’s mainly because of younger students,” he said. “A lot have very little to no real world experience. I tell them to highly emphasize the fact that they have had an internship. One thing that employers have told me is that it shows some stability on their part.”
Rice said professors tell students for every 10 resumes sent out usually one will call back for an interview, and a job offer tends to come every five to seven interviews.
“So for about 50 resumes sent out you should get at least one job offer,” he said.
Rice currently is training as a computer support specialist at Data Dimensions in Janesville. Looking back he knows he made the right decision going back to school.
“There’s no doubt I wouldn’t be in the position I am without my degree,” he said.
May 7, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “Changes to GED program could make it harder to get degree” – JANESVILLE — If there’s an urgent need, somebody will concoct a scam to exploit it.
That’s what’s happening with upcoming changes in the GED, or General Education Degree, the program that helps people get high school diplomas.
The tests that lead to this alternative diploma will change next January. Anyone who has started taking the tests but has not finished by the end of this year will have to start over.
That’s the urgency. Here’s the scam: Shady organizations are offering high school “diplomas,” for a fee.
A local woman recently tried to enroll at Blackhawk Technical College with such a diploma.
It wasn’t the first time, said Terese Tann, the college’s testing coordinator.
Tann said she has encountered this about 10 times in the past seven years. Twice, she’s been able to help.
“I call and threaten the people to give them their money back. I’ve been successful with that,” Tann said.
The diploma mills change their phone numbers frequently and are often offshore, so they often disappear, leaving victims who have paid $250 to $1,300 with nothing to show for it, Tann said.
A General Education Degree costs $75. Classes are free at Blackhawk and other locations around the state. The fee is for the battery of five tests, but a new state grant program will even cover the fee for those who enroll soon.
Tann said some people pass the tests within two weeks, while others can take up to six months.
In Rock and Green counties, more than 1,100 adults have begun the tests but have not completed them, Tann said.
Others might be considering getting their diplomas, but if they wait until next year, they’ll face new tests that are taken on computer.
People without computer skills could find the new tests challenging, but if they start now, they can still take the paper-and-pencil tests, Tann said.
Other differences between the new and old tests:
– Two essay questions instead of one.
– The new tests are aligned to the Common Core Standards, which are supposed to help students be college- or career-ready.
– The new diplomas will state whether the holder is a high performer or something less than that. The current diplomas say only that the person passed the tests.
The General Education Degree program, commonly called GED, has been around since the 1940s. It was started to help military veterans returning from World War II.
Tann said studies have shown that having a high school diploma can make a difference of $1 million in earnings over a lifetime. A college degree adds to that total.
The advantage is not just measured in dollars. It can also be an inheritance.
Tann tells of her own mother, who got her diploma late in life and went on to get a degree at Blackhawk Tech.
Education was always a focus for her mother, Tann said, and all her siblings graduated from high school or college.
“It’s usually just the beginning for families, not the end,” Tann said.
To apply for GED program
People who have not begun the General Education Degree process or who are interested in completing their diplomas this year can attend upcoming information and assessment sessions.
The four-hour sessions will help people determine if they qualify for a free program in which they will take Blackhawk Technical College classes and be able to complete the five tests.
Books, meals and calculators will be provided.
The sessions are scheduled for:
– 4:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, in Room 414 at Blackhawk Technical College-Monroe, 210 4th Ave.
– 4:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, in Room 127 at Blackhawk Technical College-Beloit Center, 50 Eclipse Center.
– 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, in Room G at the Rock County Job Center, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville.
– 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, in Room G at the Job Center in Janesville.
An applicant will need to provide a Wisconsin driver’s license or a state identity card.
Those accepted will qualify for classes at the Job Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 21-31 or from 4:30-9 p.m. May 29-June 20 at Blackhawk Technical College-Monroe or Blackhawk Technical College-Beloit.
Register in advance for the assessment and information sessions by contacting Wendy Schultz at 608-757-7726 or at email@example.com.
From gazettextra.com: “High school students can get head starts through dual credits” — By Gabrielle Banick - Financing a child’s college education can seem daunting. Even with financial aid, and with the knowledge that education is an investment that pays dividends long into the future, many families believe they cannot fit college tuition into their budgets.
That’s why on April 30th, the Wisconsin Technical College System is promoting “Do the Dual” to raise awareness about dual credit programs across the state. Dual credit programs allow high school juniors and seniors to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. At most schools, these classes are free, resulting in significant cost savings for families of college-bound students.
How significant are the savings associated with dual credit? During the 2009-10 school year, Blackhawk Technical College registered 194 students in dual credit courses, saving parents $55,668 in college tuition costs. In 2011-12, that number jumped to 652 students, saving families $284,546.
Still, we believe dual credit is somewhat of a well-kept secret—and that needs to change. At Blackhawk Tech, the general education division has been working with public school staff and administrators throughout Rock and Green counties to ensure that more students and parents know of this opportunity. In fact, Blackhawk Tech has 34 different transcripted credit articulation agreements in place at 10 area high schools.
Nevertheless, more awareness beyond the education sector is needed to help families and students pay for college and understand that dual credit programs have other benefits in addition to tuition savings, such as:
–Employers need access to skilled workers in order to remain globally competitive. We need to supply more well-trained graduates to meet the workforce needs, and dual credit allows students to finish college in less time.
–Students deserve the chance to use their time in the classroom more efficiently and get a head start on college. Many high school students who are career focused and willing to take on the rigor of college classes can begin their pathways to postsecondary education and then to the workforce at earlier ages.
–The partnerships between our secondary schools and technical colleges are outstanding and grow even stronger when aligning curricula.
–Finally, and perhaps most important, a student who leaves high school with college credit is much more likely to pursue, and complete, a college degree. Dual credit helps students overcome real or perceived obstacles to higher education.
It’s clear that dual credit has far-reaching implications. These programs will help foster economic development and make higher education more affordable. Let’s move dual credit from a well-kept secret to one of Wisconsin’s greatest success stories.
Our state, our taxpayers and, most important, our students will be the real winners.
Gabrielle Banick is dean of General Education at Blackhawk Technical College and is a former Wisconsin Technical College System education director for articulation; phone 608 757-6320; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Do the Dual” event
On Tuesday, April 30, Blackhawk Technical College will host two articulation workshops at its central campus, 6004 Prairie Ave., Janesville. These are workshops you would normally be able to take as dual credit classes. One in math will run from 9 to 11 a.m. and one in marketing and business education will be from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Blackhawk Tech also will give out “Do the Dual” wristbands and promotional posters at area high schools.
April 25, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Bottle-maker set to begin layoff process” – For those entering into training, workforce development would pay the tuition and books for the employee, Borremans said.
In February the company sent letters to the more than 50 employees at the plant that it planned to shut the facility down sometime in May.
SEC President Doug Wehrkamp said in a Feb. 28 statement due to technological advances SEC’s customers are able to meet their demand with on-site production.
The company said employees not transferring to one of the other two plants will get two weeks pay for every year the employee worked for SEC with a minimum of eight weeks.
The letter given to employees said voluntary early layoff could occur depending on how quickly operations switch over to Effingham and Bowling Green.
Those relocating will receive $5,000 in moving expenses, an additional $2,500 after employees complete one year at the new plant and another $2,500 after the second year.
Yanik declined to say if employees were offered an early layoff option.
SEC, headquartered in Enka, N.C. opened the Beloit plant in 2007. The plant made Coca-Cola bottles of various sizes and shipped to six different states in the Midwest.
April 24, 2013
From wifr.com: “HCC hosts ceremonial signing of reciprocity agreements with Wisconsin schools” – Highland Community College held a ceremonial signing of joint educational agreements between HCC and both Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC) and Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) on Monday, April 22.
Previously approved by the each college’s board of trustees, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), and the Higher Educational Aids Board, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently gave the final approval for the agreement. The tuition reciprocity agreements took effect March 1.
The ceremony included officials from HCC, SWTC and BTC with opening remarks from Highland’s Dr. Joe Kanosky and Board Chair David Shockey. After signing the agreement, HCC officials led a tour of the Wind Turbine Technician Training Center.
Similar to agreements with Rock Valley College and Sauk Valley College, these reciprocal agreements now allow HCC students to access programs offered at SWTC or BTC that are not available at Highland. Students at the participating colleges in turn can also access programs at HCC not available in their home district. Students participating in these programs will not be required to pay out-of-district tuition and will receive the same priority for admission as in-district students.
“We at HCC are excited at the possibilities of these reciprocal agreements,” said HCC President Dr. Joe Kanosky. “As educational institutions, especially community and technical colleges, look to efficiently equip their campuses to meet the needs of the evolving student, sharing our strongest resources with each other will offer real solutions for students seeking an education in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.”
Southwest Tech President Duane Ford said the SWTC programs selected for the agreement, approximately half of their offerings, not only have room for additional students but are in demand by employers. The 21 programs that Southwest Tech incorporated in the agreement include health care support occupations, construction trades and fire safety, while Highland’s programs include paramedic, tax preparation and wind turbine technician
“Southwest Tech has the capacity to serve additional students in programs that Highland does not offer and vice-versa,” said Ford. “By offering this agreement, we will provide residents on both sides of the border additional post-secondary education options. This agreement will also increase the pool of trained workers in support of regional employers.”
Alternately, Blackhawk Technical College students will now have the option to complete an associate’s degree in arts, science, engineering science, general studies or teaching through Highland in addition to nine occupational programs. Highland students will also now have access to 10 of BTC’s programs, including culinary arts, medical laboratory technician, human resource management and diesel/heavy equipment technician.
Blackhawk Technical College President Thomas Eckert stated, “This is a very positive outcome for the region in terms of workforce development. But equally important, by sharing educational program opportunities we offer students a much greater range of options, individually, to find the right career. We are extremely pleased to be a part of this agreement.”
To be eligible for a reciprocal agreement, there must be a current reciprocal letter on file at each student’s residential school that is updated on an annual basis. Students interested in exploring a program outside their home district should meet with an Admissions representative at their home school to begin the process.
April 23, 2013
From blackhawk.edu: “BTC grad wins Tools for Tomorrow Competition” – It seems like another lifetime ago when Cory Bloomer was sitting on the couch of his Milton home watching television with little incentive to move when he heard the words of the then little known junior senator from Illinois.
“I’m sitting there just feeling sorry for myself,” Bloomer said recently.
He recalled how he had lost a good job of 10 years as a carpenter helping restore historical buildings and was facing eviction in the economic slump that hit the United States late in President George Bush’s second term.
“I’m watching the news and this guy named Senator Obama comes on and says one way to turn it around is to go back to school and get an education. So I said, ‘OK, Senator Obama, I’ll try it.’ ‘’
Six years later, that little known senator is Barack Obama, the second term president of the United States.
Six years later, that former carpenter from Milton holds an associate’s degree in Individual Technical Studies from Blackhawk Technical College and works as a BTC computer lab advisor helping students weave their way through the school’s computer system.
And that’s just the start of one BTC success story. If Bloomer has his way, the last chapter has yet to be written.
“It was great that I came here instead of going to a bigger school,’’ Bloomer said of his BTC experience. “It empowers you. If a student wants to invest the time here, all the extras you can get here are incredible.’’
Bloomer is an expert on those extras. He was a winner of the Tools for Tomorrow competition at BTC, a $2,000 award that led to his being rewarded with the Industry Innovators Award, one of five students from around the country to nab that $2,000 honor.
Both awards are sponsored by W.W. Grainger, Inc., the distributor of maintenance, repair and operations supplies with its corporate base in Lake Forest, Ill., and with offices in Janesville and Rockford. The company was founded in 1927.
“Jobs in the skilled trades are vital to the economic health of local communities,’’ Jim Ryan, the chairman, president and chief executive officer, said about the company’s outreach education programs. “These jobs and the people who do them are the lifeblood of American industry.’’
Bloomer’s educational journey serves as a roadmap for those looking to reinvest themselves in the educational opportunities offered at Blackhawk. After receiving his GED at Madison College’s Fort Atkinson campus, he enrolled at BTC and dived into business management, engineering and HVAC courses with the goal of getting into facilities management. He earned academic honors and was president of the Phi Theta Kappa branch at BTC.
“The one thing you learn is how to adapt to change,’’ Bloomer said. “People can be so afraid of change. But people have to learn how to change.’’
Bloomer, 35, is just beginning to experience his taste of the American dream. It is not just for his benefit, either. Bloomer is the father of a 10-year-old daughter and is engaged to Robin Aldrich, who has two children.
“I just decided to go for the scholarship,’’ Bloomer said of the Grainger awards, “and I approached the Grainger rep one day when he was here for a presentation.’’
As part of the Tools for Tomorrow award, Bloomer also will receive a new tool kit from Grainger valued at $2,000. He knows exactly where he will put it.
“I can’t wait to get that tool kit,’’ he said. “I just bought a 2013 Jeep, my first new car ever. The tools are going to ride in the back.’’
The Industry Innovators honor earned Bloomer an all-expenses paid trip to Grainger’s national trade show in Orlando, Fla., in March, when he met Grainger customers and represented the Innovator’s program at a tradeshow booth.
Tools for Tomorrow winners are eligible to compete for the Innovators scholarship. Contestants write an essay and submit a photo, which are reviewed by five Grainger representatives. The selected applications from around the nation then are put to a Facebook vote.
Bloomer thought he had a “leg up” in the Facebook competition because of his computer lab connection at Blackhawk. But then he learned he’d get just one vote a day in the voting system.
“That’s what makes this so neat,’’ Bloomer said. “America had to vote.’’
Bloomer is not finished. In addition to his work in the BTC computer lab, he works 20 hours a week at Patty’s Plants in Milton.
He is continuing his education through an online program from the University of Wisconsin – Superior in a self-designed major he calls Natural Science Survey. He is working toward his undergraduate degree, carrying 12 credits this semester in a program that includes a minor in communication arts. His long-range goal is to find a position as an agronomist in the coffee industry.
“When you see the door open,’’ Bloomer said, “you have to be willing to jump through it.’’
And get off the couch, too.
April 22, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “BTC moves forward with Milton project” — JANESVILLE — Work could begin next winter on remodeling of Blackhawk Technical College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton.
The BTC Board voted unanimously Thursday night to borrow the money for the first of two phases of remodeling.
The technical college district will issue bonds to borrow about $1.42 million.
Taxpayers in Rock and Green counties will pay off the bonds with interest over 10 years starting in 2014.
The additional tax assessment will be about $1.45 a year on a home valued at $100,000, said Renea Ranguette, BTC vice president for finance and college operations.
BTC officials are working with architects on the bid documents. The project is expected to go out for bid next fall, Ranguette said.
The industrial building at 15 Plumb St. is expected to open its doors to students in August 2014.
The Wisconsin Technical College System Board still must approve the work, Ranguette said.
Phase 1 will create administrative and student services offices and general-education classrooms, Ranguette said.
The 12,650-square-foot project also will include an “enhancement” of the building’s main entrance, a reception area, faculty offices, meeting spaces, a science lab, student-support space that includes a library, a student commons with vending machines and student lockers, according to a district memo.
The first students to attend the school will be in the computer-numerical control, industrial mechanics and welding and fabrication programs, Ranguette said.
Officials hope to open Phase 2 in January 2015, when classes will be added in the automated systems technician, mechanical design, and heating/ventilation/air conditioning programs.
The school is expected to answer the high demand by students and manufacturing-sector employers.
April 12, 2013
From wifr.com: “BTC Alumni Association seeking new council members” – At Blackhawk Technical College (BTC), it doesn’t matter if you graduated from the school 25 years ago or two years ago because to us you will always be considered part of the BTC family. BTC alumni are interwoven throughout Rock and Green Counties and starting this month the Alumni Association is seeking volunteers to be part of the Alumni Council.
The overarching goal for the Council is to work with the director of alumni relations to help create a lifelong connection with BTC alumni. Council members are expected to:
* attend at least three of the four meetings per year
* invite guests to Blackhawk Technical College events
* nominate alumni award candidates
* act as an ambassador for Blackhawk Technical College, advocating for our programs and sharing our messages
* participate as an active member in committees and special events
“Blackhawk is well-known for producing graduates that are intelligent, innovative, and effective in their fields,” said Kelli Cameron, Director of the BTC Foundation. “Our goal for recruiting council members is to reconnect and provide an opportunity for alumni to serve as BTC ambassadors.”
Becoming a member of the BTC Alumni Association is easy. Membership is FREE and open to any alumnus who graduated with an associate’s degree, diploma or certificate. Interested participants can learn more by contacting Kelli Cameron at 608-757-7704 or by email at email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>. To sign up as a member online and learn more about the association, go to http://www.blackhawk.edu/Alumni.aspx.
“Joining the BTC Alumni Council is a great opportunity for both recent graduates and more experienced professionals,” added Cameron. “Networking, participating in fantastic events and helping celebrate the accomplishments of BTC are all great ways for alumni to contribute to the future of the college.”
April 3, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Seminar to cover safety, lockdown in the workplace” –
“If you don’t think it can happen where you work, think again.”
That’s what Sgt. Shena Kohler with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management said about making a plan for a potentially deadly situation in light of recent mass shootings.
She is encouraging people from education, business, healthcare and just about any organization to attend a seminar on forging an emergency plan held by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with Blackhawk Technical College (BTC). Jesus Villahermosa, from Crisis Reality Training, will give a seminar titled “Staff, This is a Lockdown.”
This training seminar will focus on active threats of violence, mass shootings, lockdowns and emergency planning. It will be held at BTC’s central campus, 6004 S. CTH G, Janesville.
The sessions will be held April 29 and 30 from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Seating is limited to 150 each day. There is an April 26 deadline to register.
Otherwise if people go to the website, www.crisisrealitytraining.com they can click on “Upcoming Seminars” and go to “Staff, This is a Lockdown” to see the listings for BTC.
The cost is $109 per person, but Kohler said it’s worth every dime. Calling Villahermosa an amazing and powerful presenter is an understatement, she said.
“You will walk out of that training ready to go and to hit the ground running,” she said.
The objectives of the workshop include: teaching employers and employees about what a lockdown plan is, demonstrating why every work place needs one, examining realistic considerations in developing the lockdown plans, empowering the employee with knowledge of the plan and providing those on scene with the necessary tools to increase their survival rate.
Kohler said it’s important not to forget the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as well as the many mass shootings at schools, movie theaters and businesses.
For example, there have been six mass shootings in Wisconsin since 2004, with two of them being just last year.
In August of 2012, a gunman shot six people and injured four others at a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee before killing himself.
The Azana Spa shooting occurred in October of 2012 when a gunman accused of domestic violence went into his wife’s workplace in Brookfield, Wis., shooting three and injuring four before killing himself.
Kohler highly encourages teachers and school administrators to attend. Although the Sheriff’s Department will look over school district plans and bring up suggestions, it’s ultimately the school district’s responsibility for emergency preparedness. With many school districts reaching out to the Department, she said the seminar was brought to Rock County to help give the latest information on best preparing for an emergency situation.
Kohler also encourages those with malls, big box stores, places of worship and other organizations to consider attending as well. She said it’s important for school districts, businesses and other organizations to communicate and said the event is likely to generate much conversation on preparedness.
Being prepared starts with agreement about who would be called in a crisis situation. Kohler didn’t want to give too much away about the seminar, but said that some of the commonly held beliefs about preparing and lock downs may be challenged.
Jesus M. Villahermosa, Jr. has been a deputy sheriff with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department since 1981. He is currently a Sergeant for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department serving in the Patrol Division at the South Hill Precinct after serving as the Supervisor of the Court Security Division of the County/City Building for four years where he coordinated and supervised the security for high profile criminal and civil cases.
He also served 15 months as the Director of Campus Safety at Pacific Lutheran University in a contract partnership where he worked all security aspects related to staff and student safety at the University. He was the first certified Master Defensive Tactics Instructor for law enforcement personnel in the state of Washington and was also a Firearm’s Instructor. He has been on the Pierce County Sheriff’s S.W.A.T. Team since 1983 where he currently serves as the point man on the entry team.
March 18, 2013
From wifr.com: “Blackhawk Technical College promoting health and wellness” – As another winter winds toward spring and individuals slowly let go of New Year’s resolutions geared toward maintaining a healthier lifestyle, Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) officials are stepping in to remind area residents that simple changes can make a big difference in their lives. On March 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., BTC will host its 10th annual Health Fair on the central campus within the north commons (6004 S. Cty Road G, Janesville, WI).
“This free event is a wonderful way to provide area residents with access to life-saving information and screenings, in an effort to help them make better health decisions,” said Colleen Koerth, Employment Specialist and member of the Health and Wellness Committee. “Too many people take their health for granted and don’t make time to take care of themselves.”
According to BTC’s Health and Wellness Committee, attendees will be able to gather information and experience some hands-on demonstrations done by area health vendors including relaxation techniques and chair massages, blood pressure checks, samples of natural and organic foods, flexibility assessments, dental health information, BMI monitoring, Zumba demos, herbal medicines and a variety of sports and fitness programs.
Although admission is free, attendees are encouraged to bring in their extra canned goods. A collection will be set up at the event for a local food pantry. All participants that bring in at least one canned good will be entered into a special drawing for an entertainment package. In addition to the vendors and food collection, BTC officials will also be awarding a number of door prizes and gift certificates throughout the day.
Area businesses and organizations that will be presenting a booth and donating a door prize are: a glo Spa & Salon, Agrace Hospice Care, AIDS Network, Alzheimer’s Support Center of Rock County, Anytime Fitness, Basics Cooperative, Beloit Health System, BioLife Plasma Services, Chiropractic Care Center of Beloit, SC, Community Action, Consumer Credit Counseling, Dean Health System, Edgerton Hospital, First Choice Women’s Health Center / Wisconsin Well Woman Program, Fit Pro Services/Advocare, Janesville Leisure Services, Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change, Jazzercise, Karate America, LG Wellness Consulting, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mercy Health Systems, NAMI of Rock County, Nutrition and Health Associates, Rock County Cancer Coalition, Rock County Health Department, SARP, Second Harvest Food Bank, Tastefully Simple, True Laser Ltd., Upper Iowa University-Blackhawk Ctr., YMCA of Northern Rock County, Yoga Plus, YWCA of Rock County and a variety of BTC programs.
“Blackhawk Technical College is a major part of this community,” added Koerth. “If this event helps one person make healthier choices, then we’ve achieved our goal.”
For more information about the BTC Health Fair, go to Blackhawk.edu or contact email@example.com.
March 4, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “Group fundraising for ag events, education center in Evansville” – EVANSVILLE — A private group hopes to build a regional agricultural events and education center in Evansville that also could host the Rock County 4-H Fair and Blackhawk Technical College agriculture courses.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group last year paid $2.17 million for 217 acres at the southeastern corner of Highway 14 and County M on Evansville’s east side.
If SWAG can raise at least $25 million, it plans to build an agricultural education and innovation complex. It would focus on educating people about and engaging them in agriculture and promoting and protecting the industry.
“The ag industry has relied on people who don’t understand the ag industry to tell the story for years and years and years,” said Kevin Klahn, vice president of the group’s board. “It’s time for us to be proactive and tell our story … in a positive way and help people understand.”
Board members of the group met with The Gazette to share their vision.
About 40 acres would be used for commercial development, and 80 to 100 acres would be dedicated to agriculture activities. The rest would remain working farmland for test plots and future growth.
Commercial development could include a retail store, restaurants or a hotel.
“It’s likely to be businesses that complement the project, but we don’t know specifically,” said board member John Morning, an Evansville developer with a history in agriculture.
SWAG sees potential to showcase Wisconsin products or feature menus of Wisconsin food.
The commercial development could generate more than 300 jobs, said Kennan Wood, of Wood Communications Group, which was hired by the agriculture group to help with the project. Commercial developments could increase the city’s tax base by $30 million to $35 million, he said.
That doesn’t take into account the regional effect of visitors spending money during their trips, sales tax and hotel taxes, Morning said.
The project hinges on a fundraising feasibility study, measuring whether enough money could be raised to move ahead. The study is expected to be done in spring, and if everything moves along, groundbreaking could be sometime in 2014. The hope is to get financial help from agribusinesses and agriculture associations across the state.
The complex would include:
– A 40,000-square-foot agriculture discovery center providing a high-tech, hands-on, interactive learning experience. It would include all aspects of agriculture in Wisconsin and showcase industry advancements and innovations. The center would operate year-round and charge an entrance fee.
Wood said the group conservatively estimates 150,000 visitors in the first year, increasing to 216,000 by the third year.
“We think that that’s very doable given the region we’re in,” Wood said.
The group would market aggressively to schools within a 100-mile radius, and Wisconsin has nothing like it, Wood said.
“We think it’s really important that ag steps up and tells its story, gets kids excited about it and helps the next generation of ag leaders get engaged,” he said.
They envision a Chicago family headed to Wisconsin Dells or north for skiing but stopping at the complex to explore for a few hours, said Klahn, who runs Klondike Farms, a cash grain and custom farming operation in Brooklyn.
– A 20,000-square-foot agriculture education campus of classrooms and labs for grades K-12 and youth organizations. Blackhawk Tech has committed to an additional 9,000 square feet for its programs.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group believes there’s a strong need for agriculture education facilities, Wood said, which was proven in talks with Blackhawk Tech, the Evansville School District, a charter school and others.
Technology could be used to deliver curriculum and distance learning to the rest of the state and the Midwest, he said.
Local businesses have said they need corporate training facilities, Wood said, “so we think we could build in that type of capacity in this particular area and help those businesses train current workers, but also new workers.”
– An agriculture expo area, including a 45,000-square-foot exhibition hall and possibly, in phases, a grandstand, amphitheater/stage, dedicated equestrian facility, camping, midway area, livestock barns, outdoor demonstration and show areas and demonstration gardens. The facilities would be a year-round resource for youth organizations in the Midwest and help develop the next generation of agricultural leaders, Wood said.
The group’s feasibility study highlights a need for equestrian facilities.
“We think that’s a need we can fill easily that fits into our mission,” Wood said.
The complex wouldn’t include an operating farm, but it could include a birthing barn.
The group has talked with local leaders about moving the Rock County 4-H Fair to the complex, but group members said their plans don’t hinge on the fair moving to Evansville.
“This is about us providing an opportunity,” Wood said. “It’s up to them whether or not they want to move.”
The complex has to be self-supporting. The discovery center would provide daily revenue, and the group hopes the expo area would host 200 to 300 events annually, Wood said.
“I think it would be huge if they can pull this off,” UW-Extension Agent Jim Stute said.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group sees the dwindling public support for agricultural education, he said. That includes UW-Extension and FFA programs, he said.
“If they had a place where they could host this kind of work—basically youth education in agriculture—and have private support for it, they feel they can enhance educational opportunities for the youth,” he said.
Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group started three years ago to help ensure the future of agriculture as a Wisconsin economic engine and cultural touchstone. It is a not-for-profit organization.
The group has completed a feasibility study with Vierbicher Associates and a business plan with Baker Tilly. It bought the land, developed alliances with area groups and now is in the middle of a fundraising feasibility study.
The project’s success depends on a strong vision, year-round operations and the ability to raise at least $25 million up front, board members said.
The group has three target audiences:
– Young leaders: Funding for youth programs is dropping, as is the number of ag activities, despite rising 4-H memberships. Group members said that’s an area they need to hit head-on.
– Workers: They see an agriculture skills gap increasing over the next five to 10 years, and they want to help provide the agriculture education that will be critical for the ag workforce of the future.
– General public: Less than 10 percent of Wisconsin residents are directly connected to agriculture. That number is high compared to the 2 percent across the country.
“We view that as a challenge as we go forward in trying to produce more food with less resources,” Wood said.
Klahn said there’s nothing in the project for board members other than satisfaction.
“I envision driving by this in 10 years and being proud of myself for being involved in the project,” he said. “There’s no financial gain or benefit to be had. It’s the opposite.”
No decisions have been made, but the fair board has been talking with Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group about moving the Rock County 4-H Fair to the Evansville center if the project moves ahead, fair board president Rob McConnell said.
“It looks like an opportunity for us,” he said.
The county owns the fairgrounds in Janesville, and the private Rock County Fair Association runs the fair.
The agriculture group has given updates on its project to the Rock County Board Agriculture and Extension Education Committee, which oversees the fairgrounds. Committee member Al Sweeney said the presentation was “quite impressive,” but it has a lot of hurdles to jump.
“We certainly can’t predict anything right now. There’s a big mountain to climb for the SWAG group,” he said referring to fundraising.
The fair board is interested in the Evansville site, so if the fair moved, the county would have to decide what to do with the fairgrounds. That topic has not yet been discussed, Stute said.
The fairgrounds property is zoned residential. If the fair moved, it would be “highly unlikely” that it would ever return because the city likely wouldn’t allow it, Sweeney said.
While the fair is a major user of the grounds, it is “a hard-working venue” for everything from educational programs, a curling club, weddings, gun shows, auctions and car shows, Stute said.
The Evansville site would be attractive to the fair board because it would be much larger than the cramped, 18-acre site in Janesville, he said. The location of the fair always has been contentious, he said, noting people say it’s difficult to get to the fairgrounds and it’s a countywide fair, not the Janesville fair.
“Evansville’s not that much farther away,” he said.
The project’s location is especially appealing to Blackhawk Technical College, President Tom Eckert said.
“The thing we like most about the whole center and concept is that its location is ideally suited for us between Rock and Green counties,” he said.
The college could move its one-year agribusiness program and its farm business and production management program, which is a special program for working farmers, from its Monroe campus to Evansville, he said. Those programs serve 30 to 35 students.
BTC would provide an instructor and classroom and office space, he said.
“We’ve committed to the fact that if they are successful in raising the money needed to put this center together, that we would certainly like to be a part of it,” he said.
With local and state board approvals, BTC could spend up to $1.5 million for a 9,000-square-foot facility, he said. BTC can borrow up to $1.5 million for a project without going to referendum.
Eckert said he didn’t want to get too speculative, but he said BTC’s presence could grow if everything comes together. BTC would consider moving its horticultural and turf industries program to the Evansville center, he said. There’s also the possibility of adding new programming.
He noted a need for “precision agriculture—the use of high-level technology in agriculture.”
Area farmers already use GPS-guided equipment to maximize resources such as fertilizers, he said.
“It’s here now, and we see that as becoming increasingly more complex and efficient,” he said.
People could learn how to drive tractors with advanced technology in the fields next to classrooms, he said.
But without funding for the whole complex, it won’t happen, Morning said.
So far, the group is encouraged. Nobody they’ve talked with has said the complex would be a bad idea, Klahn said.
“Everybody’s been extremely supportive,” he said. “It’s just that question mark of whether we’ll have enough funds for it.”
February 27, 2013
From madison.com: “On Campus: Blackhawk Technical College eyes new manufacturing training site” – Students hoping to learn advanced manufacturing could soon get another new facility in the region. Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville recently approved plans to open a 105,000-square-foot industrial facility in Milton by the fall semester in 2014.
It would piggyback on a new advanced manufacturing training center at Madison Area Technical College that was approved in a 2010 building referendum and is slated to open later this year.
Blackhawk’s District Board approved plans for the college to lease the facility and convert it into a training ground for five of the college’s programs initially with four more moving there in the future.
The initial wave of programs in the new facility include precision machining, industrial maintenance, electromechanical technology, welding and metal fabrication. The next wave would include computer systems technology, industrial engineering, mechanical design technology and HVAC.
“The face of manufacturing is changing radically, and the need for highly trained technicians has never been more acute,” said Tom Eckert, Blackhawk president, in a statement. The new training facility “will provide us some much-needed space and at the same time help address the workforce gap.”
The lease will cost $155,125 in the first year at $1.48 a square foot. In the second year the rate increases to $2.88 a square foot with annual increases limited to 2 percent after that, Eckert said.
The plan must still be approved by the state technical college system board.
February 25, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Blackhawk programs moving to Milton site” – Eight advanced manufacturing programs at Blackhawk Technical College will move into a new building in Milton, Wis.
The BTC board unanimously approved leasing out a vacant building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton during its Thursday night meeting. The lease would be for 10 years along with two five-year renewals for the 105,100-square-foot building, said BTC President Tom Eckert.
Before the lease can be signed the Wisconsin Technical College System Board has to approve of the project. Eckert said he believes that will happen in March or April.
If approved, the college would pay $155,125 in the first year of the lease, or about $1.47 per square foot. In the second year the rate increases to $2.88 per square foot and an annual cost of about $302,688. Further increases are limited to 2 percent per year.
Four of the eight programs including welding, industrial maintenance, electro-mechanical technology and precision machining will move into the building at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.
The other four — heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration technician, mechanical design technology, industrial engineering technician and computer systems technology — will move the following year.
The building, while in “excellent condition” will still need about $10 million of renovations in order for it to be suitable for the classroom, Eckert said.
“That will be over a number of years,” he said. “We’ll be taking the inside and making it ready and bringing it to a quality level that reflects the college’s brand and what it wants to look like as educational facility.”
Primary funding for the renovations will be done through bonds.
Eckert said the classrooms would need to be built and the production areas will be renovated into training labs.
“We will make it clean and bright and make it reflect modern manufacturing with state-of-the are equipment,” he said.
BTC has been working with Madison-based Plunkett Raysich Architects on the design of the new facility.
Increased demand for manufacturing jobs caused the college too look for a building to house an advanced manufacturing training center. Plans were being talked about initially with the Iron Works complex in downtown Beloit as a potential site for the facility.
However, the costs of the renovations and annual lease were too high for the college to afford, Eckert said.
In December Eckert told the Daily News that the college was looking at property off of Madison Avenue in Milton. He confirmed Friday that this was the land the college was looking at.
Requests for proposals were sent out in the fall after the college decided not to locate the facility at the Iron Works building in Beloit.
Five proposals were sent in and three didn’t meet the minimum requirements the college was looking at.
“The Milton site came out on top as a site we felt met all of our needs,” Eckert said.
Demand for manufacturing jobs has increased significantly over the last few years. As the Baby Boom generation is retiring more jobs in welding and industrial engineers are needed in the workforce.
Gary Kohn, BTC marketing and communications manager, said the current programs are equipped to handle 170 students, but 299 qualified applications were received.
Once the programs are moved the space they occupied will be renovated to expand other programs including nursing, business classes and the college’s Information Technology department, Eckert said.
February 22, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “BTC board approves training facility in Milton” – TOWN OF ROCK–More students will acquire skills to fill an expanding manufacturing workforce in southern Wisconsin if Blackhawk Technical College’s new venture succeeds as officials hope.
The college’s district board voted unanimously Thursday to lease a vacant manufacturing building in Milton and convert it into an “advanced manufacturing training center.”
The college will move its manufacturing programs to the new center, which is scheduled to open for the fall semester in 2014.
The lease will cost $155,125 per year for 10 years, with options for two five-year extensions and the option to buy at any time, said college President Tom Eckert.
The district plans to borrow $4.21 million to renovate and furnish the 105,100-square-foot building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton.
The Janesville Transit System bus that already stops in Milton will include a stop at the center, said Renea Ranguette, vice president for finance and operations.
With staff, utilities, maintenance and associated costs, the center would cost an estimated $528,725 a year to operate, according to a memo prepared for the board. Tuition and fees would cover $370,350 of that cost, for a net increase of $158,375 to the college’s operating costs.
The Wisconsin Technical College System Board still needs to approve the lease for the project to go forward.
February 7, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “BTC may choose Milton to expand” – More than 300 students could be attending a new Blackhawk Technical College campus in Milton in 2014 if plans go forward.
BTC President Tom Eckert said he would ask the BTC Board when it meets later this month to approve a lease of a vacant building that once was home to ANGI Energy Systems.
Eventually, the building could house 700 to 800 students in BTC’s advanced manufacturing program. That kind of growth depends on whether enough students embrace manufacturing as a career, Eckert added.
“That’ll take some work, and it’ll take some time to get there,” Eckert said.
If the BTC Board says yes and the Wisconsin Technical College System Board also approves, BTC would begin planning for the renovation of the building at 15 N. Plumb St., Eckert said.
Eckert said Wednesday that he would have lease costs ready for the board when it meets Thursday, Feb. 21.
He said borrowing would pay for renovations. The college is limited to borrowing $1.5 million per project every two years.
February 5, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Technical education programs revamped” –There is progress on a variety of initiatives to prepare students for employment after high school, including new career path tracks, upgraded programming and equipment as well as a completely renovated space.
In an interview on Thursday, Beloit Memorial High School technology educator Eric Wheeler gave some updates on all facets of changes to technical education in the district.
Starting next fall Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students will be able to chose from four technical education career paths — machining, building construction, manufacturing, and a new career path of computer repair and information technology (CISCO). After completing four to five classes in each area, students should be ready to be employed immediately after graduation or could apply their course work toward a degree at a school such as Blackhawk Technical College.
There are also a series of engineering courses for students who are interested in pursuing an engineering related career path.
In the past the school has offered machining, building construction which includes a focus on carpentry and cabinets, manufacturing which includes machining and welding as well as engineering classes for students. However, when they graduated they weren’t skilled enough to find work.
Under the new plan, students considering a technical education would be able to take some exploratory courses in their freshman and sophomore years, and then settle on a career path. The newest offering is computer repair and software development which would begin next fall.
The final step in the career paths would be half-day internships with local companies for a semester or year before graduation.
And the career pathways are just one of many changes to the high school’s technical education program.
After some concerns were raised that vocational arts classrooms had outdated equipment and students weren’t being prepared for today’s industry, the district formed committees composed of manufacturers and other local business people provide input to the Career Technical Education program. There was representation from the following trades: Building, cabinetry and millwork, welding, machining, graphic communications and digital media.
Since the involvement of the advisory committees, Wheeler said what’s being taught has completely changed. Staff with the help of business representatives will be writing curriculum to be finalized before next fall.
Currently BMHS offers all Project Lead the Way courses, a group of science, technology mathematics and engineering courses. And there is discussion about having six new technology courses for middle schoolers next fall, digital media arts, Web 2.0, Spanish for Spanish speakers, 21st century communications, forensic science and financial literacy.
Wheeler said implementation of the courses will help introduce students to potential career paths at an earlier age. The district is also considering other outreach programs to get students to consider technical careers, such as high school students visiting the middle schools to do activities.
Contractors began revamping the school’s Technical Education Programming space in the school’s lower level in December with the goal of cleaning, brightening and modernizing facilities. After the metals shop is complete by this spring, the two wood shops will be renovated in time for classes next fall.
Historically BMHS has offered 13 to 16 different classes in various areas each year in technical education. It has roughly 2,000 students enrolled at the high school level each year, and 1,100 to 1,500 of the students are enrolled in its technical education courses each year.
January 18, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Local volunteer remains engaged internationally” – Jane Svennevig knew early on in life that she was interested in learning more about other cultures. Possessing a huge heart for humanitarian efforts, she also has always enjoyed working with young people and reaching out to those in need.
Jane has been retired for more than a decade now, but as the vice president of adult continuing education and economic development at Blackhawk Technical College, she also forged long-lasting connections to the Stateline Area community.
Not one to remain idle in retirement, Jane has continued to use her collective talents, interests and connections to help others with her many volunteer endeavors.
Having traveled abroad many times, and being married to Egil Svennevig, who was once a foreign exchange student from Norway, Jane is well acquainted with how it feels to be far away from home. As such, they have been host parents to international students in Beloit since 1970. They have hosted students from China, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Norway, Iran, Hungry, Afghanistan, Japan, Ecuador, Czech Republic, to name a few.
As a result, “We have met the brightest, most beautiful kids you would ever want to meet and it has been a fabulous experience,” Jane said.
Lasting friendships over decades also have emerged with the former students as well as visits with them in their respective countries.
Jane’s interest in international affairs also has taken her down other volunteer avenues.
One is connected to West Africa. She serves on Paul’s Computer Institute Board of Trustees and has been the secretary for 17 years. She recently helped write a grant for the school in Cameroon, West Africa, begun by retired firefighter Paul Michelson, and she handles correspondence and does administrative consulting.
“Jane has made a real difference on behalf of PCI,” said Gene Van Galder, president of the Friends of Paul’s Computer Institute Board of Trustees.
“She is a visionary who can contribute so much on so many fronts. Her background at Blackhawk Tech fits perfectly with PCI and it enables her to make suggestions and to provide leadership,” he said.
PCI is a school that teaches computer skills such as data processing, accounting and programming to people in Bemenda, Cameroon. The training helps the residents acquire needed skills to find jobs and improve their quality of life.
Jane and her husband also began sending monthly care packages to enlisted men and women four years ago after contacting Operation Shoebox in Florida, she said. The kindness has often been repaid with letters and emails and gestures of appreciation.
“We just want them to know they are not forgotten,” she said.
Jane also is involved with the Rotary Club.
“Jane is always there to support Rotary initiatives locally and internationally. She has been an integral part of (as co-founder and chairperson of) Beloit College Rotaract and many other Rotary/Beloit College initiatives,” said David Luebke, president of the Beloit Rotary Club.
“I have worked and continue working with Jane for all Rotaract/Rotary interactions,” said Zoe Lengjak, president of Rotaract Club at Beloit College.
“Jane was an extremely important part in helping register and start the Rotaract Club with me. When I first contacted the Rotary Club of Beloit I was immediately directed to Jane who went out of her way to both teach and assist me in every way possible. She facilitated the registration of the Beloit College Rotaract Club. Step-by-step, Jane and I completed the process so that now we are an internationally recognized student affiliate Rotary Club. Whenever possible Jane attends our weekly meetings and helps in resolving conflicts, shedding light on issues, adding ideas, answering any and all questions, announcing appropriate community events, etc. Whether on a professional or personal level Jane is a delight to deal with and I very much value her input,” Lengjak said.
She also is a member of the East End Club of Beloit, the oldest women’s literary group and serves as secretary.
At St. Paul Lutheran Church, both Jane and Egil help out with the Wednesday community lunches offered. Jane prepares tasty dishes for the weekly gathering and her husband helps serve the guests. She also facilitates the adult film discussion groups and handles special projects such as art shows at the church.
There are also the special projects of which she has been a part.
Jane developed and facilitated a feedback process to aid Beloit Regional Hospice with its strategic planning in 2011 and she is an active member of the Society for Learning Unlimited, presenting a program on the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska at an SLU session and to several other groups in the area.
“Jane and Egil have made a difference in countless lives by the generous giving of their time and effort,” Van Galder said.
Of volunteering, Jane said the rewards can’t be counted.
“You get so much more than you give. When you reach out to people, they know you are making a connection,” she said.
October 8, 2012
From beloitdailynews.com: “Editorial: Tech schools fill big need” – It’s a crown jewel in Wisconsin’s educational system, but doesn’t always get the attention, or the appreciation, it deserves.
The state’s 16 vocational-technical colleges collectively serve tens of thousands of residents, from teenagers to the elderly. Students come to learn scores of skills that help them obtain good jobs, from carpentry to high-tech positions.
One of the smaller — but more sophisticated of those 16 schools that serve Wisconsin is Blackhawk Technical College. Its main campus is on Prairie Road between Beloit and Janesville. Branch campuses are in Monroe and in the Eclipse Center in Beloit. There’s a smaller training center at Janesville, and an aviation unit at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.
WE DRAW READERS’ attention to Blackhawk Tech because the college is observing its centennial next week. There’s a campus open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a celebratory dinner and scholarship fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 13. And there’s much to celebrate.
BTC currently has some 5,700 students. Enrollment tends to fluctuate from perhaps half that number to over 6,000. Since the General Motors plant in Janesville shut down in 2008, former GM employees have joined younger and older students to retrain for new careers.
Blackhawk Tech’s president, Thomas Eckert, proudly asserts that the school has dedicated itself to meeting current shortages of skilled workers, be it in construction, manufacturing, the medical profession or other fields. Meanwhile, there are assorted courses for those who simply want to find fulfillment in art, literature and so forth.
STUDENTS’ AGES VARY from the mid-teens to 90 and sometimes beyond. If there’s enough demand for classes in basket-weaving or parachute jumping, the technical colleges probably can provide the teaching required.
Blackhawk Tech’s student body currently consists of about 3,000 at the central campus, whose facilities constantly are being improved; to the Beloit campus’s enrollment of about 1,400 and a similar number at Monroe.
Eckert is proud to point to BTC’s record of having most who graduate with technical, associate or other forms of certification, find the right employment soon after they complete their one- or two-year stints at the college. Eighty-seven percent of grads find jobs within six months.
ALL OF WHICH suggests that the technical college system helps Wisconsin keep its manufacturing, construction, medical and service industries supplied with the workers needed. It’s been doing that since the state directed public school systems back in the Fall of 1912 to create “vocational schools” for young people wanting to find paying jobs instead of finishing high school, or older folks who were either under-employed or had no job-training.
Older Beloiters will remember the Vocational-Adult school on Fourth Street, which served until the 1960s. Other cities, including Janesville, had similar schools. The popularity — and productivity — of the local schools prompted the state to create 16 districts, each to be served by a central campus and branches as needed. The Blackhawk Tech district, serving primarily Rock and Green counties, is the fifth smallest of the state’s 16 tech colleges.
It turns out that the colleges have been a good investment. Blackhawk Tech’s current budget is about $50 million. That may seem like a lot, but consider that in a year’s time, as many as 4,000 get the training they need to enter the workforce. That’s a good investment. Tuition, often supplemented by financial aid, accounts for about half of the budget. Local property taxes and state aid make up the difference.
AGAIN, THOSE FIGURES may seem hefty, but Eckert says that the community, in one way or another, realizes benefits of $140 for every $100 spent.
Wisconsin’s public school system is, of course, vital as well as costly. And the University of Wisconsin system, with its two- and four-year campuses (including UW-Rock County) ranks with some of the best among the state. So do our private colleges, including Beloit College. We’re fortunate, indeed, that the Badger State’s technical college system bridges what would otherwise be a wide gap between the public schools and the colleges that not everyone wants, or can afford, to attend.
ANNIVERSARY CONGRATULATIONS go out to the technical college that serves our area so well, and to the foresighted leaders of earlier years, who saw the need, and filled it.
October 5, 2012
From communitycollegetimes.com: “The long, hard road to new careers” — By Sharon Kennedy - Cynthia Deegan began as a student at Blackhawk Technical College (Wisconsin) in summer 2009 when the college opened a new medical laboratory technician program to prepare students for jobs at local medical laboratories and clinics. Many of her classes were held at the college’s Monroe Center, which was closer to her than the main campus some 35 miles away.
Cynthia began her courses with a group or “cohort” of other students, taking most of their classes together. In some ways, she was different from her classmates: Cynthia was older and had military experience, which added to her discipline and maturity. But she had something in common with them that was more important: They all lost their assembly-line or production-work jobs at one of 30 plants that closed in the area. This shared background defined their educational experience.
Fear of school
Most of the students in the group admitted they didn’t applied themselves in high school, which led to a defining characteristic among them—they were anxious and scared about starting college. One concern was that the traditional-age students would outshine them. Another was that at their age—they were mainly in their 40s and 50s—they might not be able to remember important information that they learned.
Over time, the students became more confident, but they still felt stressed about being a student. For some of them, circumstances were “just too hard.” When interviewed in September 2010, one year into the program, one of Cynthia’s classmates was still looking for a job because she perceived it easier than going back to school.
Of course, of the students who did enroll, not everyone succeeded. Often, personal factors weighed heavily on the students. College and homework, combined with regular life requirements, became more than they could handle. One of Cynthia’s classmates who struggled academically for most of the first semester stood up one day, walked out and never returned.
Weight on family
Family life largely ceased for the students when they started college. At first, their families were proud of them. But that emotion turned to anger 18 months later as family members grew weary of their attention to their studies. One student’s spouse felt the need to be physically close to her when she came home from school and insisted on sitting right next to her as she did homework. There were divorces, evictions and health problems. But the students persevered, knowing the short-term sacrifice was necessary for the long-term health of their families.
The effects on families weren’t all negative. The students often related how their children were studying more because homework had become a family affair, and they were doing better in school. In some cases, students had children who were also taking chemistry, and they helped teach their kids.
Dan and Kathi were Cynthia’s primary teachers. Neither had experience with an entire classroom of dislocated assembly-line workers. For Dan, who started teaching full time in 2008, it was a long way from his previous experience as a researcher. He was grateful that he had a year of teaching under his belt to deal with his own stress of being a first-year instructor before Cynthia’s cohort of stressed-out students showed up. Meanwhile, Kathi had experience as a quality manager at a local company, which prepared her for working with students who just came out of a manufacturing environment.
Dan’s first task was to prepare the students for science courses that would require conducting laboratory experiments with precision. He knew the students would have trouble connecting science, lab work and precision, so he needed a concept and exercise with which they could easily identify. He used the idea of a recipe, and the assignment would be to make bread. The students used calibrated instruments to weigh the ingredients—salt, yeast and sugar—but they didn’t know what the materials were or what they were making until they saw the finished product.
The exercise helped ease the students’ anxiety over lab work and measurements. It also helped Dan and Kathi gauge how well each student understood the material.
The students also credited their understanding of concepts to hands-on learning. As one of Cynthia’s classmates noted that they had worked all day at a factory standing on the line “moving stuff around with our hands,” so that’s how they learned—with their hands.
Dan and Kathi had concerns about the students’ ability to communicate. . At times, their lack of proper English was evident and their communication style was “rough.” So the teaching duo focused on their general written and oral skills, as well as technical writing. Even with the extra attention, Dan and Kathi knew the students would face a hurdle when seeking jobs in the health-care environment as they would compete with more-educated workers who had chosen this field as their career.
Into the field
With the training completed, the next step for the student was to get some work experience. However, even getting to their internships was a struggle for some students. Some of Cynthia’s classmates had to drive to Iowa and Illinois for their clinical experiences, up to 400 miles per week. Community organizations such as the Zonta Club of Janesville, a local affiliate of an international organization of business and professional women working to advance the status of women, supported some students. The club purchased $100 gas cards for each of the women.
“Blackhawk Technical College provided every conceivable resource at its disposal to make Cynthia and her classmates successful. The next step of finding a job was up to them.”
Kennedy is the chief academic officer at Blackhawk Technical College. She is writing a book, Classroom at the End of the ‘Line’: Assembly Line Workers at Midwest Community and Technical Colleges.
September 21, 2012
From agriview.com: “WMMB supports outstanding award winners at WAAE Conference” — For the second straight year, the dairy farm families of Wisconsin helped underscore the important contributions that agricultural educators make to secondary and post-secondary education throughout the state. At the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators (WAAE) 2012 Annual Professional Development Conference held in Green Bay earlier this summer, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Wisconsin dairy farmers’ promotion and education organization, sponsored four recognition awards.
“Agriculture and dairy are not only an important part of our past here in Wisconsin, the industry contributes more than $51 billion each year to our state’s economy and offers our next generation more than 300 different career paths,” said Laura Wilford of WMMB and who heads up the Wisconsin Dairy Council. “As we enter another school year, it’s not only important to share information with our children about the healthful advantages of dairy products and daily exercise, it’s also critical that we recognize and support the ag education efforts of our dedicated teachers and instructors.”
The four WAAE award recipients included:
Outstanding Agricultural Educator – Adam Wehling, Mondovi High School. Wehling started teaching at Mondovi High School in 2007 and has continued to challenge his students to gain valuable career skills. Besides teaching agriculture, he also serves as the high school coordinator for the district’s work release program and has taught numerous adult education classes. He has partnered with 35 area businesses to start a career fair with four schools that brings together over 300 students.
Outstanding Young Member – Candice Olson, Badger High School, Lake Geneva. Olson teaches agricultural education at Badger High School in Lake Geneva. In addition to serving as an advisor for the FFA and environmental club, she also developed a chapter exchange program with an FFA advisor in Oklahoma. She has been an active member and presenter at the WAAE and National Association of Agricultural Educators conventions and has served as a National Agri-Science Teacher Ambassador.
Outstanding Post-Secondary/Adult Ag Education Program – Blackhawk Technical College, Monroe Campus. The Agribusiness Specialist program at Blackhawk Technical College started in 2008 with Dustin Williams as the instructor. The rigorous program is a unique one-year technical diploma program designed to coordinate with area high schools and feed into a two- or four- year program either at Southwest Technical College or UW-Platteville. The program boasts a 30-member advisory committee that works with the instructor to ensure curriculum is relevant to industry. There is a high student success rate in attaining internships and full-time employment upon their graduation from the program.
Ideas Unlimited Program – Jim Melby, Winneconne High School. Melby was recognized for his contribution to the Ideas Unlimited contest, a national competition which is designed to give members an opportunity to exchange classroom, supervised agriculture experience (SAE), leadership, and other teaching ideas.
August 21, 2012
From beloitdailynews.com: “BTC looks at options for training center” – Blackhawk Technical College officials are looking at “other possibilities” to build an advanced manufacturing center after meeting with representatives of the Hendricks Development Group Friday.
The plan was to locate the center at Beloit’s Ironworks Complex, and Blackhawk Technical College President Tom Eckert stressed that it doesn’t mean the center won’t end up there.
“We just want to explore other possibilities, and look to see what’s out there and exhaust all those other possibilities,” he said.
Eckert said the meeting with the Hendricks organization was “very positive” and both groups remain committed to creating a facility that works for the college.
“Hendricks was clear that whether the Ironworks or other locations are used wasn’t the main focus, but the important point was where we can build this training center,” he said.
Eckert said they haven’t begun to look at other locations, and are currently working on a more definitive plan.
Eckert also said he wouldn’t say whether the goal was to start the project in the spring.
“I would not say that the project is on hold,” he said. “We want to explore different possibilities just so that whatever we do we do it the right way.”
Rob Gerbitz, president and COO of Hendricks Development Group, also said the meeting with the college went well.
Gerbitz reiterated Eckert’s statement that the location of the center isn’t what is important at the moment.
“I think this is a large investment by the college and by everybody involved,” he said. “It really comes down to we want to make this facility and the most important thing is the education that will come from this facility.”
Eckert said last week the start of the renovations at the Ironworks building wouldn’t start until at least the spring because the college hadn’t raised enough funds.
About $10 million to $12 million needed to be raised to finance the renovations. Eckert said the college couldn’t afford to add the costs of the renovations to the lease, which is what the owner of a property normally does.
Instead the college attempted to raise the money needed for the renovations up front.
The center is needed in order to meet demand for some of the manufacturing programs the college offers. A third welding program section was added for this upcoming school year in order to lower the amount of students on the waiting list.
Eckert said welding classes will be held from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at its central campus in Janseville.
“We have no doubt that if we build this facility and can make it come to pass we’re going to see more students apply,” he said.
June 18, 2012
From gazettextra.com: “BTC expands off-hours offerings” – More night classes this fall at Blackhawk Technical College will boost local workers’ opportunities, officials said.
BTC has offered night classes for a long time, but the increase will allow students to complete associate degrees entirely during the evening, officials said.
Programs affected are accounting, business management, early childhood education and human resources.
For a full story, read Thursday’s Janesville Gazette, read online in the Gazette’s E-Edition or check back at GazetteXtra.com.
June 13, 2012
From gazettextra.com: “WMC working to end workforce skills gap” – JANESVILLE — “All the Walker photo ops are in factories, and it’s like he doesn’t get that manufacturing is the industry of the past. We need to be thinking about the future, about alternative energy, innovation and entrepreneurship.”
To some readers, that quote in a November edition of the Capital Times was a slap at Gov. Scott Walker.
To an industry, however, it was a painful reminder that perceptions of manufacturing often are wildly different than reality.
“If you put that quote up in front of manufacturers, their heads will explode,” said Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation. “That speaker couldn’t have been any more wrong in just two sentences.
“But it does show people’s understanding—or lack of understanding—of manufacturing in this state.”
That misunderstanding is the result of many things, said Morgan, who stopped at Blackhawk Technical College on Monday to outline what his organization has learned about a workforce paradox in Wisconsin, where unemployment stands at about 7 percent but manufacturers can’t find the employees they need.
The paradox also is referred to as a skills gap, and WMC isn’t alone in talking about it.
In Wisconsin alone, he said, there are seven regional economic development organizations, 11 workforce investment boards, 12 Cooperative Educational Services Agencies, 16 technical college districts and 426 K-12 school districts, and they’re all familiar with the issue.
“One thing about Wisconsin is that it’s very parochial,” Morgan said. “How they do something in Fond du Lac is not how they do it Appleton.
“Given that, the problem is that all these efforts to address the problem don’t line up.”
Morgan and other WMC staff members have visited 54 Wisconsin communities and more than 300 manufacturers to get input. Morgan is sharing the results of those visits at each of the state’s 16 technical schools.
Manufacturers are starting to question Wisconsin’s work ethic, a quality that has long been heralded around the nation, Morgan said.
Social skills are a problem, and many companies now celebrate employee attendance.
Morgan said the state’s technical college system would be a leader in tightening the skills gap.
But before that can happen, young students need to know that manufacturing today is all about innovation and entrepreneurship, he said.
“We do our students a disservice by not providing accurate data on the job market, current wages and the skills that are in demand,” he said.
Labor data is often not communicated, and when it is, it’s often wrong, he said, adding that too often students pursue costly four-year degrees only to discover they can’t get a job.
Perceptions need to change, too, and Morgan said manufacturers must take responsibility for engaging their communities and local school systems and telling the story of modern day manufacturing.
“We need to get rid of the stereotype that manufacturing is dirty, dark and dangerous that people have been carrying around for 40 or 50 years,” said BTC President Thomas Eckert.
BTC, he said, is working toward development of an advanced manufacturing training center that will consolidate its manufacturing-oriented program into one building and layer in the soft skills training that manufacturers say are too often lacking among graduates.
The school includes industry advisers for each of its programs and has held “skills summits” to gather employer feedback.
James Otterstein, Rock County’s economic development manager, said an upcoming report would indicate that the vast majority of high school students in Rock County decide upon a career track in junior high. Most often, it’s formed with the help of family and friends, followed by school personnel and Internet resources.
“Sixty percent indicate they intend to pursue a four-year degree, while only 20 percent say they will go after a two-year degree,” he said. “There’s a huge opportunity to hit these schools with accurate information about local labor markets.”
Otterstein noted that manufacturing could be a tough sell in Rock County, which was devastated in 2008 with more than 30 plant closings.
“Locally, there was a lot of pain associated with manufacturing,” he said.
Morgan said WMC will work with all stakeholders to ensure that every Wisconsin high school students has an open mind to available career choices and understands the opportunities they present.
In one year, WMC hopes to be part of a solution that includes unemployment of about 5 percent with manufacturers finding the employees they need. It envisions more employable workers, as well as a more positive attitude toward manufacturing and its role as an economic driver.
That’s best summed up, Morgan said, in WMC’s workforce vision: “Manufacturers have to tell it, parents have to allow it, educators have to know it and students have to choose it.”