March 10, 2014
From beloitdailynews.com: “BTC’s manufacturing facility takes shape quickly in Milton” – By Shaun Zinck – MILTON — The new Blackhawk Technical College advanced manufacturing facility in Milton is on schedule and on budget, said college President Tom Eckert.
A year ago in February the college announced it had leased a building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs.
Work began on half of the building in the fall with plans to move three programs by the 2014-15 academic year. Eckert said about 50,000 square feet of the 105,000-square-foot building is currently being remodeled.
“We are putting in general classroom in the front of the building for general education course. Also that is where the office complex will be located for staff,” he said. “Each of the labs will also have their own specialized classrooms.”
Once work is complete this summer, equipment will be transferred over to the building just in time for students in the welding, industrial maintenance and precision machining (CNC) to occupy that half of the building this fall. Work on the second half will continue during the academic year, Eckert said.
The other programs — heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration technician, mechanical design technology, industrial engineering technician and computer systems technology — will start holding classes in the 2015-16 academic year.
Gary Kohn, marketing and communications manager for the college, said the new space will bring all the programs closer together to allow for more collaborative projects between the students.
“So you might have a CNC student working with a welding student working with an industrial maintenance student,” he said.
Kohn said a lab station will be built as a connection between another building during the second phase of construction and renovation.
The entire renovation cost will be about $12 million, Eckert said. He said nothing unexpected has come up during the first phase of renovations.
“They did a really great job predicting exactly what it would take to do the job,” he said.
The welding program at BTC has been in high demand as of late. The college had to add a third welding section in order to increase the number of students it could admit into the program. The college currently has about 105 welding students in three different sections. The new facility will double the capacity for the programs, however, that doesn’t mean double the students just yet, Eckert said.
“We don’t know how many students (the building will hold),” he said. “We are still in decision-mode on what shifts we will have for each program.”
The college entered into a 10-year lease at the location, and can exercise two five-year renewals. Last year, the college said it would pay about $1.47 per square foot for the lease space or about $155,125 for the first year. The second year the rate increases to about $2.88 per square foot or about $302,688 per year.
Prior to choosing the Milton location the college looked into locating the facility at the Ironworks campus in Beloit. Funding the project proved too costly, Eckert said at the time.
March 7, 2014
From beloitdailynews.com: “Police recruits aim to improve community relations” – By Geoff Bruce – The most recent recruits of Blackhawk Technical College’s Police Recruit Academy are stretching their legs and building some bridges.
The first ever “Miles for a Message” campaign is the brainchild of the most recently graduated class of academy recruits, Class 13-64.
“The recruits decided that they wanted to do something. These people want to become law enforcement officers, not just study about it,” Blackhawk Technical College Recruit Academy Coordinator Doug Anderson said.
Miles for a Message will take place April 5 and consist of two halves. The first will be a relay run beginning at 8 a.m. consisting of many runners teaming up to conquer the 26.2-mile course. The morning jaunt will start from Blackhawk Technical College’s Central Campus, 6004 S. County Road G, between Beloit and Janesville, and will head south to Beloit before winding through the city to pass by nearly all of its schools. The run will conclude at the Rotary River Center in Riverside Park in Beloit.
Following the morning run will be an afternoon organization fair. The fair will run from approximately 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Rotary River Center. The purpose of the fair is to introduce citizens to all of the organizations in the area that may be able to help in difficult times. Police academy graduate Bryanne Tudor says that one ultimate goal of the event is to promote good relations between citizens and law enforcement.
“(My class) all talked about it and we realized a lot of underprivileged people don’t really know the resources available to them,” Tudor said. “As law enforcement, it’s important to us for people to know their resources.”
There is no charge for organizations wishing to take part in the event. For more information on either portion of the event, interested parties can contact Tudor at 608-436-6869.
So far, a handful of organizations have signed up to participate in the organization fair following the run including the City of Beloit, Town of Beloit, and Town of Turtle Police Departments, as well as the Rock County Sheriff’s Department.
“I think that each generation of police officers will see this grow in importance. There can no longer be that disconnection of guys just riding around in squad cars and only connecting when someone’s in need or in trouble,” Anderson said. “We need to get officers out of the car and taking the time to interact with people.”
The event’s first half will also raise money for two Stateline Area organizations via pledges. Runners who sign up to run a leg of the 26.2-mile relay will collect at least $75 in pledges and will be able to sign up to run as much, or as little, as they want.
Benefiting from the funds raised by the pledges will be Project 16:49 and the Merrill Community Center.
“Project 16:49 has really taken off, especially with the opening of their new house. I think that they tackle an issue we all need to be aware of,” Tudor said. “As for Merrill, it’s just been a great organization for so long and we really wanted to show support for it.”
Project 16:49 opened its first house to provide long-term residence for homeless teens last month. Executive Director Tammy DeGarmo says that things with the Robin House are going well so far.
“We’ve had almost everything we need for the house donated to us. We’ve had so many people want to volunteer and help out,” DeGarmo said. “We’re excited for this because it’s not easy to take the time to organize an event and right now we’re very busy with the Robin House and helping our other kids. So to have them put this on for us is wonderful.”
Merrill Community Center Executive Director Regina Dunkin recently participated in a panel at Beloit College regarding the incarceration problem in Wisconsin. Prior to that forum, she made points echoing Tudor’s desires to build bridges between law enforcement and citizens. She stood by those remarks Monday.
“I think it’s another opportunity to show the humanity of police officers,” Dunkin said. “Often we hear from kids that they have negative ideas about police because they’ve gotten in trouble or their parents have gotten in trouble. This is a way to change that perception and show that police officers are people too.”
Like DeGarmo, Dunkin was flattered by the decision by the recruits’ to make Merrill Community Center one of the beneficiaries.
“It’s just wonderful. We don’t always have people in the community willing to take the initiative on things like this for us,” Dunkin said. “It’s really going to help us in continuing to serve the children and families of the center.”
Participants who wish to have a running buddy can sign up together. Runners are not responsible for finding and fielding an entire team to run the 26.2 miles.
“Once we have all the sign-ups, we’ll sort people into teams to make sure that the distances that people want to run add up to 26.2 miles,” Tudor said. “If you have someone you want to run with you can write that down and we’ll make sure you get to.”
The run will pass by over a dozen schools in the Beloit area including Turner High School, Rock County Christian High School, and Beloit Memorial High School.
Throughout the morning, teams will go over the Rock River a couple of times. But whether it be at White, Henry, or Grand Avenue, if Tudor and her colleagues have their way, there will be plenty more crossings on a lot more bridges in the days to come.
December 23, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Blackhawk Tech: More info needed before pursuing referendum efforts” – Those responding to a recent survey mailed out on behalf of Blackhawk Technical College want more information before they can decide if they support a referendum for a tax increase.
More information needs to be provided on how the college is funded through local taxpayer dollars, tuition and state aid before moving ahead with a referendum, according to a news release from Blackhawk Technical College.
“The community survey has told us that we are vital in preparing today’s students for career success and that we play a critical role in providing the highly skilled workforce our communities need to grow and prosper,” Dr. Thomas Eckert, president of Blackhawk said in his message to the District Board on Thursday evening.
Blackhawk Technical College recently mailed a survey to 8,000 taxpayers in Green and Rock counties to seek input on pursuing an April referendum.
“However, it was clear that many of our respondents are unable to explain BTC’s operational budget,” Eckert said, “We feel more comfortable taking time to increase public understanding so voters feel more informed to make a decision.”
Officials from BTC say that because of reduced state aid, state revenue caps in place since 2010 and current cost projections, a shortfall of approximately $3.5 million is predicted for its 2014-2015 budget. Since 2010, Blackhawk has reduced annual operating expenses by more than $2.3 million.
“It was impressive to learn how many residents the college has impacted,” Bill Foster, President of School Perceptions, said in his report to the BTC District Board, “In fact over 50 percent of the respondents have attended at least one class at BTC.”
The BTC District Board will review the necessary reductions later in the spring. A referendum in the 2014 fall election is still under consideration.
A recent legislative change now permits technical colleges to seek funding support from their district communities through an operational referendum.
In November, the BTC Foundation hired School Perceptions LLC to conduct the surveys and assist in data gathering. School Perceptions is based in Slinger, WI, and is recognized for its expertise in gathering information that aids education institutions and their policy boards in their public policy pursuits.
Blackhawk Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System. BTC has five campus locations in Monroe, Beloit and Janesville, Wis. offering more than 50 programs including two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, BTC is a major provider of customized training and technical assistance for the Rock and Green County business community. More than half of all adults living in Wisconsin have accessed the technical colleges for education and training during the last decade.
December 11, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “BTC: Either cuts or $4M referendum” – by Hillary Gavan - A $4 million referendum for Blackhawk Technical Colleges (BTC) annual budget would enable the college to offer more career pathways to job seekers and more skilled workers for businesses looking to hire, according to BTC President Tom Eckert, Vice President of Finance & Operations Renea Ranguette and Foundation and Alumni Association Director Kelli Cameron.
In a recent interview, BTC officials explained how enrollment has increased while state funds have been cut causing an estimated annual budget shortfall of $3.5 million. The voters have a choice to either move forward with a referendum or reduce programs and services.
“Our only other option is to shrink,” Ranguette said.
The proposed referendum would mean a tax increase of $37 for a home with an assessed value of $100,000, translating to $3.08 per month. The board would have to approve the potential referendum by the Jan. 16 board meeting in order to get it on the ballot for the April 1 election.
In 2009, Eckert said enrollment increased 54 percent at BTC when General Motors (GM) closed. During the years that followed BTC increased certain programs to meet student needs while making a total of $3.2 million in cuts to services, programs and personnel.
“It was a combination of offering more of the right programs our community needed while making reductions to those that weren’t in high demand,” Cameron said.
Now, in 2013, enrollment remains relatively high as state funding has been cut. For example, the 2011-13 state budget reduced Wisconsin Technical College System aid by 30 percent, reducing state aid to BTC by $1.5 million. And the local operating property tax levy was frozen in 2010.
“Our increased enrollment was bigger and longer than we thought,” Eckert said.
Eckert also noted that there still are many part-time students enrolled at BTC who may be under-employed and are trying to gain more skills as the economy still recovers.
During the time of the enrollment boon, Eckert said many positive changes were made to better address the educational needs of students and employers, which BTC hopes to continue. For example, during its increase BTC implemented more comprehensive student services such as tutoring, advising and career counseling.
“We thought they were key things to students staying in school, and things employers told us they needed,” Eckert said.
An example of an expanded program is welding, which now is offered from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily and on Saturday to push out welders as quickly as possible due to a welder shortage.
BTC officials also want to keep their focus on health occupational offerings as well including a pharmacy technician program.
Although some programs and services have been increased, Eckert stressed how BTC has scaled back other programs. Employees have increased their benefit contributions and personnel have been reduced. For example, about 30 employees brought on via two-year contracts during the enrollment increase were not kept on board.
However, there are more staff overall since 2007 to support additional student services. Eckert noted about 80 percent of the operational budget is for staff salary and benefits.
The following are examples of operational savings: closed aviation program, $370,000; reduced the size of the electrical power distribution program, eliminated leadership program, and office systems tech position, $270,000; closed day care center, $72,000; increased employee contribution to Wisconsin Retirement System, $1 million; made personnel changes through attrition, $372,000; and cuts to operational accounts and activities, $169,000.
Historically, Eckert said BTC has received less local revenue on a per-student basis than all other small technical colleges in the state. BTC has 2,774 full time equivalent (FTE) students, second only to Moraine Park and Wisconsin Indianhead in its peer group of small technical colleges. However, BTC is eighth in its operational costs per FTE at only $11,745, compared to the average of about $14,000 among its peers.
“Even thought its the third largest among its peers, it charges the least per student,” Eckert said.
He added that the state sets the amount of tuition BTC can charge prohibiting the college from generating additional funds that way.
The Blackhawk Technical College Foundation has sent out surveys via mail and e-mail to more than 12,000 residents in Rock and Green counties to gauge community support for a potential referendum. On Dec. 19 the company conducting the surveys — School Perceptions — will present findings to the BTC Board in an open forum at 6 p.m. in the Board Room at the Central Campus’s administration building.
Eckert maintains it’s critical for BTC to continue its current programming to keep the local economy strong.
“We are a player in attracting businesses,” Eckert said.
He said for every tax dollar spent, communities get about $1.40 back in terms of what students spend. However, some figures put the figure as high as $14 back because of a higher educated populace which leads to a better healthcare, lower crime rats and less reliance on local taxing sources.
October 7, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “BMHS fairs expose students to career success ingredients” – Beloit Memorial High School was buzzing with activity on Thursday morning as the school held its first Wisconsin Education Fair in the field house and first Annual Career and Technical Education Fair in the Barkin Arena.
Juniors and seniors had a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education required to obtain them.
The Wisconsin Education Fair (WEF) featured four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. BMHS school counselor Erin Wolf said it was the first time WEF, the largest educational fair in Wisconsin, came to Beloit. Those at BMHS had tried for two years to get the school to be one of the approved sites. On Thursday, Wolf said there were 102 post-secondary options represented including two-year and four-year schools in addition to the military and cosmetology schools.
Representatives from universities and colleges from Iowa, Alabama, Minnesota, North Dakota and other states were represented.
BMHS senior Heather Miller, interested in biology and astronomy, was checking out a booth from Northland College, a small school in Ashland, Wis. She said she liked the idea of a college with classes as small as 12-14 students. She said having schools from across the state and country was a great idea.
“I don’t have to go visit all of them. To come here is pretty helpful,” she said.
Students Erica Dominguez-Martinez, Ann McKee and Kaitlyn Rivas were chatting with University of Wisconsin-Platteville Admission Advisor Katharine Caywood about their interests in psychology, foreign languages, animal science and business degrees.
Kaitlyn said she was interested in Platteville because of it’s forensic science investigation major as she hopes to become a coroner or medical examiner. Caywood told her Platteville also offers internships at the Rockford, Ill., Coroner’s Office.
Wolf said the fair was a great success, and that afterward school counselors were preparing to make individual contact with all the seniors to help them work on their college application processes.
Businesses involved in manufacturing, construction, welding, information systems, graphic arts, even tourism and hospitality were invited to set up a booth at the Career and Technical Education Fair. And on Thursday some were getting some hands-on experience.
Blackhawk Technical College Culinary Arts instructor and executive pastry chef Katie Thomas’s table was a hit with students as she offered them the opportunity to make little swan-shaped cream puffs. She said it was a great way to engage with students.
“Students feel like they’ve made something, and it gets their creative juices flowing,” she said.
Heather Warne, a human resource generalist, with Prent Thermoforming out of Janesville, said her company packages medical components. There is a strong need for engineers as well as machine operators as well as IT, finance and human resource professionals. She said students who come out of high school with some automotive training can be easily trained to work on machines.
University of Wiscoinsin-Platteville Professor of Electrical Engineering Dale Buechler, Ph.D., who works with engineering students at UW-Rock County, brought a miniature solar panel, paper plate turbine and a circuit board to entice students into pursuing engineering careers. He told them with Rock County’s partnership with UW-Platteville, there are classes in the evenings allowing students to work during the day while pursuing engineering. And advances in technologies have made much of the equipment more affordable and portable so students can spend less time on campus and more time working at home.
October 2, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “More students seek out tech. education program” — By Hillary Gavan - More Beloit students are enrolling in technical education classes thanks to the newly renovated Technical Education Programming Space in Beloit Memorial High School’s lower level and the district’s renewed commitment to promoting the skilled trades as a career option for students.
“We are investing in Career and Technical Education and are making changes as needed to provide students with the best path to a potential career opportunity,” said Ryan Rewey, the School District of Beloit’s new career and technical education director.
This October, in honor of manufacturing month, Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students will be participating in a career fair and expo at the school, visiting two local manufacturers on National Manufacturing Day and welcoming State Superintendent Tony Evers for a tour.
Rewey said there is energy and excitement surrounding the new space as the department has brought on new educators and is already offering students more opportunities to partner with local business.
Last year BMHS had 935 students go through the Technology and Engineering area, and this year it has 973 students who have signed up.
“We expect this number to continue to increase as our program begins to take off,” Rewey said.
This fall students were able to choose 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.
Efforts to get more students enrolling in technical education classes are already under way. Students will be participating in the First Annual Career and Technical Education Fair set for 9 – 11 a.m. Thursday at BMHS. The event coincides with the Wisconsin Education Fair, which will feature four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. The students will have a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education necessary to obtain them.
Then on Friday 38 students will be heading to Regal Cutting Tools and Forest City Gear in Roscoe for National Manufacturing Day to get a look at the jobs available in a real work setting.
On Oct. 28 State Superintendent Tony Evers will be coming through the newly upgraded facilities in honor of manufacturing month.
On Monday students such as junior Logan Engel were learning to use a horizontal band saw and learning to weld in new instructor Chris Klatt’s class.
Engel said he is taking a welding class and two construction classes this year. He said he’d been waiting for the renovations to be complete before starting, and hopes to get an internship with Corporate Contractors Inc. (CCI) this summer. He not only plans to make good money by learning the trades, but said he learns more in technical education classes with more hands-on work.
“I learn better working by myself and learning from my own mistakes,” he said.
The Welding and CNC Lab has been expanded and is up and running with 17 welding stations that include brand new miller tungsten inert gas (TIG) and metal inert gas (MIG) machines as well as updated ventilation.
Although students have been learning how to weld but are waiting to use the 12 new CNC mills and lathes until the district gets the necessary tooling purchased. For now, Rewey said students are learning the principles of running the Haas training panels and learning about G-Code and M-Code, the programming languages for CNC.
At the newly remodeled Construction Lab students are already working on building scale models of homes in their beginning construction class with Will Neiers, an instructor who is newly full-time with the district this year. Neiers said there are many more students in his basic carpentry and carpentry techniques classes this year, probably because of the new facilities. In the newly remodeled Woods Lab, for example, students will learn millwork, cabinetry and more.
Rewey said he would like to have a program model similar to the construction program offered in Janesville where local contractors could get involved and students could build a home to sell. Any profits made from the sale of the home could go back into the Technical Education Program as well as scholarships for students pursuing the skilled trades.
Rewey said the department is focused on exposing more students to the courses available through tours, participation in National Manufacturing Day, the career expo and more. There are also efforts under way to attract more female students to the program. Just this fall the district hired Tammy Spoerk to teach engineering and blue print reading. Spoerk, a former computer aided drafting (CAD) business owner, has plans to get a robotics team back at BMHS next year and take students on more trips to universities.
She encourages parents and community members to come see the type of high skilled work students are actually doing as she said people would be surprised how advanced course work is and how far students will go if they are empowered to be leaders.
August 28, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “BTC – Monroe campus director named” – MONROE — Matthew Urban, a native of Monroe who has spent the past five years in three different roles at Blackhawk Technical College-Monroe Campus, has been named Director of the Monroe Campus by BTC President Dr. Thomas Eckert.
Urban will be responsible for the overall administrative operations and public outreach at the Monroe Campus.
Urban succeeds Jennifer Thayer, who left BTC to become the Superintendent of Schools in New Glarus.
Urban began his BTC career in 2007 as an Adjunct Instructor before adding the jobs of Learning Resource Specialist and Student Development Specialist to his responsibilities.
Prior to joining BTC, Urban spent 13 years as the Executive Director of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also served as the Community Relations Coordinator at The Monroe Clinic and Operations and Programming Director for radio station WEKZ.
Urban is a 1983 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with an undergraduate degree in Speech Communication. In 2010, he earned a Masters of Science degree in Education at UW-Platteville.
August 26, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Employers, educators discuss student preparation for work” — By Hillary Gavan - Representatives from business and education joined together to discuss new ways to get students trained for the workforce at the 7th Annual Business Education Summit held Thursday at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.
Sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, School District of Beloit and Beloit College, the day’s theme was “Workforce Development – Are You Ready?”
At the event the 2nd Annual Business/Education Partnership Award for the business sector went to Blackhawk Bank accepted by CEO Rick Bastian. The award for the education sector went to the School District of Beloit, accepted by Superintendent Steve McNeal.
Beloit City Manager Larry Arft and McNeal welcomed crowds, and McNeal said it was a blessing to have forward thinking people to move the school district ahead.
McNeal noted there is non-referendum money being put into the Beloit Memorial High School’s new Technical Education Programming Space demonstrating the district’s commitment to getting kids into jobs. The School District of Beloit and City of Beloit, he said, are undergoing joint efforts to train kids for the workforce which rival any in the state.
After the Vice President of ManpowerGroup’s Global Strategic Workforce Consulting Practice Rebekah Kowalkski gave her keynote address, Economic Development Director for the Rock County Development Alliance James Otterstein gave a presentation on Inspire Rock County, a web-based career readiness platform which connects students with businesses and mentors and other resources to investigate careers and apply for jobs.
Susan Dantuma, from Blackhawk Technical College, talked about the college’s youth apprenticeship programs and Bob Borremans, from the Southern Wisconsin Workforce Development, spoke about the Work Today Program where employers in the program pay to have workers trained for job openings at their companies.
Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Jim Agate said he was pleased with the roundtable discussions which returned this year so educators and the business community could brainstorm together. In the past he said takeaways from the discussions included ideas which were implemented such as mock interviews and the lunch and learn program.
Agate said after Thursday’s events new plans would begin forming.
“We will put all our notes together and move forward,” he said.
Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Rick Barder said all of those on the Business/Education Partnership Committee put together a program and agenda that was relevant in today’s world with many takeaways for both the businesses and the education community.
Beloit City Manager Larry Arft said the event was a unique opportunity for educators and business as well as government leaders in the community to interact and to share perspectives regarding the needs of public education.
July 29, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Business, education set session” — By Shaun Zinck - The connection between businesses and education is vitally important.
That will be the main theme for the annual Business Education Partnership Summit next month at the Eclipse Center.
The summit is sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation (GBEDC), the School District of Beloit, Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce and Beloit College.
The event will be presented from 7:30 a.m. – noon on Aug. 22 at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.
Rebekah Kowalski, director of Global Solutions for Right Management, will be the keynote speaker and will talk about the “Be Bold 2” initiative.
The “Be Bold” Initiative is a Wisconsin Economic Development Association program designed to study the competitiveness of Wisconsin on the business level. It includes looking at different industries and recommending improvements to the economic development strategies.
The summit’s theme is “Workforce Development – Are You Ready?” Attendees will learn how “collaboration between business and education can build a sustainable, skilled workforce,” a release on the summit said.
Andrew Janke, executive director of the GBEDC, said each year the summit draws 150 to 200 educators and business owners.
“It’s an opportunity to gather the business owners and educators in the area to listen to a topic or topics of mutual interest,” Janke said. “And through interacting they will be able to talk things through and identify issues both sides are having and may develop some solutions.”
In addition to Kowalski presentations will be given on Inspire Wisconsin by James Otterstein. The program is designed to connect employers with students and vice versa.
Susan Dantuma, from Blackhawk Technical College, will talk about the college’s youth apprenticeship programs and Bob Borremans, from the Southern Wisconsin Workforce Development, will talk about the Work Today Program.
Roundtable discussions will return this year after not being on the agenda last year. The topics for the roundtables are still being working out, Janke said.
Janke said attendees in last year’s survey indicated they would like to see the discussion make a come back this year.
“We try to intermix educators and business owners at the tables so there is actual interaction between the two,” he said.
At the end of the summit gift baskets with items donated by local businesses and the School District of Beloit will be raffled off.
The cost is $20 per person or $15 for a group of three or more. For more information or to purchase tickets visitwww.greaterbeloitworks.com/BusEdSummit2013.
From wifr.com: “Blackhawk Tech College to Offer Nuclear Technician Associate Degree” – Blackhawk Technical College is joining with Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, WI, to offer a new associate degree program starting this fall semester for those interested in becoming a nuclear technician, one of the most rapidly expanding technical fields in the United States.
BTC already offers 32 credits of the program requirements including mathematics, sciences, technical studies and general education courses. Students at BTC will be able to complete the other required nuclear technical classes through interactive television and online platforms. Lakeshore will offer much of the nuclear specific curriculum in the two-year program.
BTC is committed to introducing students to a program that offers this specialized training in a field that presents opportunities in a growing and lucrative industry. It is an example of BTC’s goal to offer programs that help train students to meet the ever increasing needs of the local, state and national communities.
“What is most exciting about this program is that it offers interested students a wide array of future employment possibilities in fields such as the nuclear industry, medicine and environmental safety, just to name a few,’’ said Dr. Diane Nyhammer, BTC’s Vice President of Learning. “The program itself will help lead to employment, but students interested in further studies may also use it as a springboard to a four-year degree in high demand fields like health physics and radiation safety.’’
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 14 percent growth in nuclear technician jobs by 2020 as the need for specialized training to operate equipment and monitor radiation levels in nuclear research and production increases.
The median pay for nuclear technicians is $68,090 a year, or $32.73 per hour, according to the Bureau. Nuclear technicians commonly operate special equipment and assist physicists, engineers, medical researchers and other professionals in nuclear research and production.
“We see this program as another example of how we can combine the best educational opportunities offered by the Wisconsin Technical College System to enhance the employable skills of our students and meet the ever-changing and increasing needs of employers in our state and around the nation,’’ Nyhammer said.
Students interested in more information about the Nuclear Technology program at Blackhawk should call the BTC admissions office at 608-757-7665 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org by email.
July 19, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Blackhawk Technical College to take part at the Rock County 4H Fair” – JANESVILLE – Blackhawk Technical College is coming to the Rock County 4-H Fair on Friday, July 26, with a variety of activities at the Food Fair Area Tent guaranteed to entertain and inform fairgoers about the impact of BTC on the community.
BTC activities, which will run from noon to 6 p.m., include five raffles for $50 certificates toward any Community Education offering in the 2013-14 school year and five more raffles in which winners applying to BTC will receive a waiver on the school’s $30 application fee. One winner in each of the drawings will be announced on the hour be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Blaze, Blackhawk’s perky, energetic and engaging mascot, will be roaming the Fairgrounds, posing for pictures and offering kids of all ages temporary tattoos. BTC alumni can reap the reward of a $5 food voucher, good at any food fair vendor. Children intrigued by careers in law enforcement and fire safety, among other fields, will be able to don part of the occupation’s uniform and have their pictures taken that eventually will be posted on the BTC Facebook page.
Representatives from the BTC Admissions and Continuing Education programs will be onsite to explain the school’s degree and certification programs as well as the number of different non-credit courses offered to the community. In addition, a Community Education instructor is scheduled to demonstrate the art of wood pen making.
Fairgoers also will be able to test their knowledge at the BTC Trivia Wheel. Answer the question and win a prize.
The Rock County 4-H Fair, which runs from July 23-27, is located at the Fairgrounds bordered by Craig and N. Randall avenues in Janesville. Admission is $8 for those 13 and older, $5 for those 7-12.
ABOUT BLACKHAWK TECHNICAL COLLEGE
Blackhawk Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System. BTC has five campus locations in Monroe, Beloit and Janesville, WI offering more than 50 programs including two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, BTC is a major provider of customized training and technical assistance for the Rock and Green County business community. More than half of all adults living in Wisconsin have accessed the technical colleges for education and training during the last decade.
July 16, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “Milton Fire/EMT intern sees tough, real-life training requirements” — By Neil Johnson - MILTON — Milton Firefighter and EMT intern Heather Tollefson was tending to her daily marching orders on a quiet Friday morning.
Tollefson, 25, planned to write a report on an earlier emergency ambulance call, check the fire trucks’ firefighter air tanks and generators and head out for a set of pre-fire readiness checks at a half-dozen downtown Milton businesses.
Then, things got interesting.
At 10:27 a.m., the firehouse’s radios lit up with a report of a man stung by a hornet outside his home a few blocks away. The man was having an allergic reaction to the sting.
“I’ve gotta go,” Tollefson said, bounding off toward a fire department ambulance already idling in the firehouse garage.
Tollefson’s blond, braided ponytail bounced against her black Milton Fire Department T-shirt as she leapt into the back of the ambulance.
In a span of 10 seconds, Tollefson’s day had changed. Off she raced to an emergency.
For Tollefson, it was like any other day for a working intern at a small fire department. An intern can handle many kinds of tasks, some as mundane as cleaning a fire station restroom or filling oxygen tanks.
Other duties, such as writing reports or helping on calls as an ambulance or fire truck “ride along,” are crucial for a fire department trainee to gain hands-on work experience.
All the work gets logged in some way as part of a matrix of hundreds of training hours that a firefighter/emergency medical technician needs to complete as a full, on-call member of a fire department.
Tollefson already is certified as a base-level Emergency Medical Technician, known as an EMT-basic, but she is in the middle of a two-year program of coursework at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville to earn certification as an advanced paramedic and a firefighter.
A former restaurant supervisor who has a young daughter and is engaged to be married, Tollefson, a rural Milton resident, said she has always dreamed of being a full-time firefighter/paramedic. She said her fiancé, Eric Sympson of Edgerton, pressed her to follow her dreams.
On Friday, it just happened to be Tollefson’s first call to a serious insect sting.
Lt. Aaron Reed, 24, a five-year veteran on the Milton Fire Department, said as an intern, Tollefson could get thrown into any emergency situation at any time.
“When you’re training for this work, you get thrown right into real life. It’s an eye-opener. It’s not you and your buddies sitting around in class or a college cafeteria.
“Today, Heather asked if she could ride along on ambulance calls, and I said sure,” Reed said. “So there you go. Bee sting.”
Although other area departments have internship programs, Tollefson is the Milton Fire Department’s first firefighter intern.
She has been at the 40-member volunteer fire department for about nine months during her schooling at Blackhawk Tech. She has about another semester and a half at BTC. She works 36 hours a week on call at the department.
The intern program is a new line this year in the fire department’s budget, which is funded jointly by taxpayers from the city of Milton and the town of Milton.
Milton Fire Chief Loren Lippincott said having Tollefson as an intern bolsters the ranks of Milton’s fire department and helps Tollefson meet her education and training requirements. The department’s association also reimburses some of Tellefson’s school costs.
“The internship program is a small expense to us as a department, but it’s great for both us and Heather,” Lippincott said. “She’s getting great experience that she needs to advance her career here at Milton or another department. And it’s at less of cost to us than a part-time member.”
According to department records, about 20 percent of the Milton Fire Department’s 40 or so permanent, on-call firefighter/EMTs have been on the department two years or less. And, Reed said, more than half of the department’s members are under 35.
Many, he said, work full-time jobs outside the department—some as private EMTs. Others work in fields unrelated to public safety.
Regardless of education or experiences, the Milton Fire Department requires every firefighter to have at least 100 hours of training to meet department criteria, which range from fire response to water and ice rescue on Lake Koshkonong.
If firefighters also are EMTs—and most, such as Tollefson, are—the department requires those members-in-training to gather ambulance emergency skills along with training hours before they can graduate beyond “ridealong” status.
For instance, Lippincott said, on Tollefson’s hornet-sting call, she earned EMT training credits and department credit for assisting the man stung and also communicating with staff at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville, where the man was transported for treatment.
New members including interns have tough tests to get through, and they do it in real time, Reed said.
“Everybody, whether they’re a chief or someone in training, has to go to their first fire sometime. Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you sit in the firehouse and wait until you’ve got experience. Heather understands she’s like anybody else here. She’s part of the department. She’s got to be ready to go whenever,” he said.
Although Milton is a fairly small city, it and its surrounding area see the fourth-highest fire-emergency call volume in Rock County.
The city also has a soon-to-be finished four-lane bypass and four manufacturers whose work involves production with natural gas, plastics and ethanol, which Reed called “targeted production facilities” with potentially volatile substances that require dozens more hours a year of special training.
“Milton is changing a lot from a public-safety perspective. It’s not as sleepy as you’d think. Everything about it is dynamic,” Reed said.
Tollefson referred to the third call of her shift, the one involving the man with the hornet sting, as “laid back, but a pretty good call.”
She would be busy for rest of her day catching up on reports, cleaning up and checking in the ambulance the department used on the hornet sting call, and doing pre-fire checks at businesses. That is, if she didn’t have to go out on another call.
“I’m as happy as I could be,” Tollefson said. “I love this work.”
July 9, 2013
From wifr.com: “Blackhawk Tech College offering fall workshops” – The Business and Community Development Division of Blackhawk Technical College is offering workshops and seminars this fall for area businesses and professionals that will help hone a wide array of skills to make business professionals savvier and smarter in the ever changing business world.
Registration begins July 16 for the BCD programs that range from helping businesses become more environmentally friendly to how to effectively get your message out to the community. There are morning, afternoon, night and all-day workshops scheduled.
The first workshop offered is the Aug. 5 session of “Green Generalist,” a BTC presentation in conjunction with Purdue University that provides an introductory look at the key environmental issues facing organizations today. The session costs $149 and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Three other “green” workshops developed by Purdue University also are scheduled for Aug. 12, Oct. 12 and Oct. 26.
Those interested in registering for a program should connect with http://www.blackhawk.edu/ExplorePrograms/BusinessandCommunityDevelopment.aspx and click the Workshops and Seminars link on the left side of the page.
For more information, contact Amy Berendes, BCD’s Business & Industry Operations Coordinator at (608) 757-7728 or at email@example.com. Courses scheduled for the fall program are:
Applying Leadership Skills: Techniques for Effective Leadership
Looking to get ahead in the workplace but not sure where to begin? Good leaders know how to influence, empower and motivate others. This seminar will introduce you to leadership theories and practices to start you on your path to developing these skills. Through activities, role-playing, videos and discussion, you will explore aspects of leadership in an environment that encourages participation and engages active learning methods.
Cost: $69 Dates: 9/21/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Dealing with Difficult People: Effectively Approaching Others
Difficult people come in every variety and no workplace is without them. How difficult a person is for you depends on your self-esteem, your self-confidence and your professional courage. Learn to identify and deal with potential conflicts that may arise from working with difficult people and how to mitigate the negative effects.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/05/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Improving the Customer Experience: Taking Your Service from Good to Great
Improve the experience your customers have by learning how to effectively communicate with customers who are angry, confused or just plain having a bad day — all while improving your productivity and reducing stress. Learn how communication mindfulness helps improve what we say and how we say it. This active and fun seminar provides you the knowledge and skills to communicate positively so that angry customers become happy, life-long customers. Cost: $69 Dates: 11/09/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Performance Management: Improving the Performance Appraisal Process
Appraising the performance of staff is an important but often challenging task for many managers. While the parameters, characteristics and standards for evaluation vary by organization, the fundamentals of performance appraisal remain the same. Through hands-on learning and practical application of performance appraisal principles, you will learn the skills to recognize the roles and responsibilities in conducting a performance appraisal; adequately prepare and plan for the appraisal; explain the importance of providing meaningful feedback to employees; and identify the essential elements of an effective performance appraisal.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/15/13 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Coaching for Performance
Learn how coaching can be used to develop your team and improve individual performance. Coaching is based on a partnership that involves giving both support and challenging opportunities to employees. Knowing when to coach is an essential skill that can benefit both you and your organization. This three-hour workshop will help you become a better coach and leader.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/07/13 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Stop Wasting Time and Start Getting Things Done: Practical Techniques for Managing Your Time
Imagine a day where you complete everything on your to-do list. Seem like a dream? If so, this seminar is for you. This workshop will provide practical techniques for controlling time and making it a manageable resource. You will learn to clarify objectives and plan for results; conquer procrastination; delegate effectively; set group goals and priorities; and eliminate time wasters. Cost: $69 Dates: 10/19/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Early Childhood: WMELS
This training will provide you with an opportunity to explore the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS) so that you will be able to use them to build a foundation for high quality care and education for all children from birth to the beginning of first grade. You will learn how to apply the WMELS Performance Standards to determine what children should know and be able to do; plan learning experiences; provide supportive environments; and collect data to ensure that all children are learning and making progress.
Cost: $75 Dates: 9/7 & 9/14 Time: 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Introduction to Project Management
Today’s managers are expected to be task and goal oriented. As a result, many employees are expected to understand project management techniques and apply them to projects of any size. This workshop will give you an overview of the entire project management process as well as key project management tools you can use every day. You will come away with an understanding of what a project is, steps needed to complete projects on time and on budget, and tools and techniques for planning and tracking projects.
Cost: $99 Dates: 9/23 & 9/30 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
An Accounting Crash Course: A Basic Review of Accounting Principles for Non-Accountants
Many of us flinch when we hear terms like depreciation, cash flow, balance sheet and (worst of all!) budgets. However, these are all important concepts to understand if you are going to succeed in today’s business world, particularly as a leader. Join us for this informative workshop to understand the basics of the accounting process, financial statements and the budgeting process as well as why they are all important in the work environment.
Cost: $69 Dates: 11/19 Time: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Business Writing for the 21st Century
Are your writing skills holding you back at work? Effective and professional written communication skills are critical in today’s workplace. This course begins with grammar and business writing essentials to help you communicate professionally. Then, learn how to apply these skills to 21st Century technologies, including writing for email, PowerPoint, social media, and other applicable internet-based technologies.
Cost: $69 Dates: 11/16 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Meeting Management: The Art of Making Meetings Work
Tired of walking away from a meeting you felt was a waste of time? This seminar will focus on how to conduct an effective meeting by utilizing critical planning steps to make meeting time more productive. Learn to use process tools that can help create an open and safe forum for discussion as well as how to handle counterproductive behavior in meetings. Cost: $69 Dates: 10/28 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Managing People Through Change
Change is a constant. All around us, technologies, processes, people, ideas, and methods often change. Being able to manage people through change effectively requires understanding how people perceive and handle change. Using Real Colors®, this workshop will show you how to identify different personality types and to understand how each approaches change so it is more likely to be accepted and implemented smoothly. Join us for this fun and interactive workshop. Cost: $99 Dates: 11/2 Time: 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
OSHA 10-Hour Voluntary Compliance for General Industry
This 10-hour OSHA Certification seminar is designed for managers or other personnel responsible for on-the-job safety and implementing work place practices that comply with OSHA standards. Learn what safety training is required, who needs it, and how often it must be done. This course will provide an introduction to the OSHA Act and will cover such topics as walking and working surfaces, exit routes, emergency action plans, fire prevention/protection, electrical safety, PPE and hazard communications. Other topics will be discussed based on class need. Join us for this informative workshop.
Cost: $249 Dates: 9/16, 9/17, 9/23, 9/24 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Streamline Processes & Eliminate Waste: An Introduction to Lean Process Techniques
This two-day course will give you the foundation to implement Lean process improvement tools in your workplace. We will explore the foundations of Lean through the Toyota precepts and the five critical improvement concepts (value, waste, variation, complexity, and continuous improvement) the first day. The second day will give participants tools to perform continuous improvement in their organization, including 5S, 5W-2H, PDSA, DMAIC, Kaizen, Genchi Genbutsu and various Lean data mapping methods. Price includes lunch both days.
Cost: $299 Dates: 9/17 & 9/28 Time: 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Emergency Preparedness for Business
The actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical. A prompt warning to employees to evacuate, shelter or lockdown can save lives. A call for help to public emergency services that provides full and accurate information will help the dispatcher send the right responders and equipment. Action by employees with knowledge of building and process systems can help control a leak and minimize damage to the facility and the environment. This seminar will focus on the critical steps businesses can take to minimize the impact of an emergency.
Cost: $99 Dates: 9/26 Time: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Building Inclusive Teams: A Leader’s Guide to Diversity
In the past 10 years, the workforce has changed dramatically and leaders must understand how to manage diverse team members. More than ever, a workplace is a collection of individuals proud of whom they are: their gender, their sexual orientation, their religion, their ethnic background and all other components that make an individual unique. In order for a business to succeed, employees must be able to appreciate and celebrate those differences — and, most important, work together. Join us for this practical and interactive workshop to learn how to effectively build a team that succeeds together.
Cost: $69 Dates: 11/7 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Emotional Intelligence: Today’s Differentiator in Exceptional Leaders
Emotional Intelligence, also called EQ, is the ability to recognize and manage emotions and relationships. It is a pivotal factor in personal and professional success. IQ will get you in the door, but it is your EQ, your ability to connect with others and manage the emotions of yourself and others, that will determine how successful you are. When you look at the truly extraordinary leaders that inspire and make a difference, you will see that they often do this by connecting with people at a personal and emotional level. What differentiates them is not their IQ but their EQ. Join us for this interactive workshop to gain that EQ edge.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/21 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
e-Newsletters: Use Microsoft Publisher to Create Impact
Many small businesses and non-profit organizations rely on e-newsletters as a cost-effective way to stay connected to customers. This workshop will provide you with the skills to create professional documents using MS Publisher to reach your target audience. Learn how to easily create e-newsletters that are attractive, interesting and worthwhile to read. Once you understand simple design and layout concepts, you will be able to create stunning newsletters (and other documents) that will save you time and money, while providing value to your customers. If you have a blog or website, easily post these documents as pdf files for quick access. Any skill level is encouraged to participate in this workshop. Cost: $69 Dates: 9/14 Time: 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Keep the Audience Alive with POWERFUL Presentations
Do you dread PowerPoint presentations because they are so boring? Then this workshop is for you. Avoid “Death by PowerPoint” and learn how to create visually meaningful and effective slides that keeps the audience’s attention, while allowing you to verbally deliver your message with impact. If you want to impress your audience and meet your business goals, join us. This workshop will help you develop a competitive advantage in any presentation without putting your audience to sleep!
Cost: $69 Dates: 9/19 Time: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Green Generalist: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Green Generalist training, developed by Purdue University, provides an introductory look at the green movement, with a focus on education, awareness and methods beneficial to employees at every level of a company or organization. This workshop combines classroom-style learning with an interactive “live” simulation to help you learn green concepts and key environmental issues facing organizations today.
Cost: $149 Dates: 8/5 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Energy Management: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Learn how to manage energy usage and invest in energy efficiency to cut energy costs and reduce your organization’s carbon footprint in this interactive workshop developed by Purdue University. Basic energy use and renewable energy alternatives are discussed.
Cost: $149 Dates: 8/12 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Pollution Solutions: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Learn innovative methods to improve emission control, environmental management systems and new technologies to reduce air pollution through this workshop developed by Purdue University. You will also gain an understanding of climate challenges related to air emissions and learn strategies for incorporating effective air emissions management concepts into a green enterprise. Join us for this hands-on workshop.
Cost: $149 Dates: 10/12 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Dumpster Dive: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Don’t worry — your hands won’t get dirty during this fun and interactive workshop. Join us to learn the fundamentals of solid waste streams and their sources by focusing on the leading methods of waste reduction, known as the “4 Rs” (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). You will also learn about lifecycle analysis, alternative material selection, by-product reduction, waste exchange, and zero landfill concepts through activities and exercises designed to simulate real life. Cost: $149 Dates: 10/26 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
July 1, 2013
From wisbusiness.com: “Development division help provide grants for 3 area manufacturers” – JANESVILLE, WI – Blackhawk Technical College’s Business and Community Development (BCD) division has helped arrange nearly $244,000 in Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) grants for three area manufacturers.
BCD will provide training in a wide variety of topics in advanced manufacturing and leadership development including electro-mechanical, MSSC, Six Sigma, soldering, metallurgy, statistical process control, project management, problem solving and team building for employees of Regal Beloit, SSI Technologies, Inc., and Hufcor, Inc. The grant money is provided by the WTCS’s Workforce Advancement Training Grant program. Regal Beloit is one of the world’s largest producers of electric motors, generators and power transmission equipment. SSI, based in Janesville, designs and manufactures a variety of sensors, control systems and powdered metal components for worldwide automotive, heavy vehicle and industrial markets. Hufcor, Inc., also based in Janesville, is the world’s leading supplier of movable walls and folding doors.
Grant applications are just a part of BCD’s mission, which is to provide a wide array of training and consulting programs for businesses in Rock and Green counties. In addition to customized training for businesses, BCD will offer more than 20 different professional development workshops and seminars open to the public this fall. Registration begins July 16.
“This is just one of the many great ways Blackhawk Technical College continues to demonstrate its partnership with area businesses”, said Doug Holmes, BCD’s Training and Consulting Services manager.
July 1, 2013
From madison.com: “Group pitches world-class agriculture complex in Evansville, but questions remain” — By Rob Schultz - EVANSVILLE — A group of business and community leaders from southwestern Wisconsin wants to build a state-of-the-art complex here that will boost agriculture with facilities focusing on education, research, entertainment and promotion of the industry.
Executives of agricultural businesses and a technical college have endorsed a proposal to build a $32 million Wisconsin Ag Education & Innovation Complex on 200 acres on the outskirts of Evansville.
It could include space for Blackhawk Technical College’s enhanced ag department and other schools for all levels of education as well as apprenticeship programs.
It also could include research and retail facilities, and a high-tech agricultural “discovery” center built around models like Disney World’s Epcot and the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.
The Rock County 4-H Fair is also considering moving there, and other tourist attractions promoting agriculture are being planned.
“People tell us we’re talking about big things, but they all fit together very well and complement each other in a way that we think creates a unique benefit I have not seen anywhere else,” said Kennan Wood, a member of the Southwest Wisconsin Agricultural Group (SWAG), which is behind the project.
SWAG believes the complex could create more than 300 jobs and turn out thousands of qualified ag workers, but it won’t become reality until endorsements are turned into cash.
SWAG will start fundraising efforts soon with a goal of
$25 million. The remaining
$7 million needed to complete the project is expected to come from other sources.
“There is a gap between saying, ‘That’s a great idea and I support it,’ to ‘Let me stroke you a check with six or seven or eight zeroes on it.’ It’s our job to bridge that gap the right way,” said Tom DiFiore, the president of Atlanta-based National Community Development Services, which is helping SWAG sell the project to potential donors on regional, state and national levels.
Leaders of SWAG are optimistic their efforts over the past several months will help them raise enough money to get the project started as early as next year. They are also bracing for the possibility of starting in two years — or not at all — if fundraising efforts don’t go well.
“Is it a slam dunk? Absolutely not. Is it doable? Yes, with the right strategies,” DiFiore said.
Questions about focus
What constitutes “the right strategies” is up for debate.
SWAG officials are keen on creating a place for tourists to learn about agriculture and the kind of jobs one can find in the industry.
They believe Evansville is the perfect site because it’s in farm country and the acreage will include corn fields and other crops for research that can be part of the tour.
They also want visitors to learn that, like manufacturing, the ag industry is no longer dark, dirty and dangerous. They want to make a trip to the complex fun and unforgettable for everybody.
“We have to get rid of that old stereotype that haunts agriculture,” said SWAG official John Morning, who hatched the idea for the complex.
But the entertainment features could keep organizers from raising the money they need, two local business executives said.
SWAG officials hope for a few big corporations with deep pockets to get the fundraising campaign off to a fast start with major pledges of more than $1 million.
Its best selling point is that the gifts would be more of an investment than a donation, DiFiore added.
John Deere & Co. is looking at the proposal, Morning said. So is Madison-based BouMatic, which is a global manufacturer and supplier of milking systems and dairy farm equipment, and Kuhn Manufacturing in Brodhead.
All three companies like the project because it has the potential to turn out more skilled-trade workers and others who are desperately needed to fill key roles in agri-businesses across the country.
BouMatic President Bob Luna said if schools at the complex train and educate students on the value of working on a farm, BouMatic will profit because “it provides people who will go out and want to sell our products, people who want to provide technical support for our products, and people who want to open dealerships.”
Luna also said the research and education phases of the complex would help potential farmers learn about the technological advances that will make their operations more profitable.
“They will recognize they don’t have to have 5,000 cows to make money, that the small family farm is still a viable option because technology helps them make money,” Luna added. “But they have to be properly educated in all those channels.”
Questions about scope
Luna said SWAG needs to build the complex in the right sequence and put its focus initially on raising money for education and research. That way, he said, the project can get started with much less than $25 million.
“If they do that, I think that what they have has a lot of merit,” he said. “If the scope is too wide, you’ll never get the ball rolling on this.”
Paul Jadin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership, formerly known as Thrive, has given SWAG officials the same advice.
“It’s getting a little too diverse and a little too large,” Jadin said. “They need to go back and make sure they are trying to be who they intended to be all along.”
Jadin said his economic development group believes the project has the potential to have a national and, perhaps, global impact on the agricultural industry if it keeps its focus on establishing strong educational and research facilities.
It also would have an opportunity to apply for federal funding, and he said his group would help with such grant requests.
Blackhawk Technical College’s pledge to move its ag programs to the complex once SWAG raises the needed money is the project’s most positive development so far.
Ag classes would move to Evansville from the college’s Monroe campus, and expand to include classes where students could learn how to install and repair GPS systems and other technologies that are used in modern farm equipment, Blackhawk president Tom Eckert said.
He also said the school could split its diesel program and create an ag repair class for combines and other machinery. Another possibility is to create a place at the complex to demonstrate new technology to farmers and help them learn about it.
Eckert said SWAG has a dream that’s within its reach.
“Combining information with education and experimentation — it all seems to be the right combination and the right location,” he said.
June 27, 2013
From hngnews.com: “Blackhawk Tech’s Milton facility on track” – “I think we’re on a good roll.”
Blackhawk Technical College President Tom Eckert was upbeat on June 19 as he talked about the college’s plans to open a new manufacturing education center in Milton.
He appeared at the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly general membership meeting in Newville to give a presentation on the proposed BTC Advanced Manufacturing Training Center.
The Wisconsin Technical College Board in March gave approval for Blackhawk to lease the former Burdick/ANGI Energy System building at 15 Plumb St. to serve as the new facility. Eckert said last week the lease on the property had been secured and engineers were beginning to look at the building to evaluate needs.
The Milton Plan Commission will also hold a public hearing on July 9 at 5 p.m. to consider a conditional use permit (CUP) request for the facility. The meeting will be held in the City Council chambers at 430 E. High St.
Eckert said he anticipates the college’s big manufacturing programs – precision machining (CNC), industrial maintenance, electromechanical technology, welding and metal fabrication – to begin classes in the new facility in the fall of 2014. The remaining manufacturing programs would relocate to Milton in the fall of 2015.
He said modern manufacturing is “no longer dirty and dark” and manufacturers are using more automation. The manufacturers are in need of employees who can master the new technology.
“It’s good for our economy to make things,” he said, touting the importance of keeping manufacturing in the United States.
The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center will be designed to allow more cross-training, creating well-rounded graduates, Eckert said. There will be double the number of welding booths compared to current setup at the central campus in Janesville and more space to take on bigger projects.
Eckert said the “capstone” project for students will be to create a manufacturing line that makes a product.
Moving the manufacturing program to Milton will also free up much-needed space at the central campus for other programs.
June 25, 2013
From blackhawk.edu: “A taste of the Culinary Institute” – The high school students of five area Culinary Arts teachers may want to turn the tables next fall by asking those teachers what they did during their summer vacations.
The answer would be I went to Blackhawk Technical College’s two-day Culinary Institute.
“We’re here to make their lives just a little bit easier,’’ said BTC Culinary Arts instructor Joe Wollinger, better known as “Chef Joe’’ to those students who have made their ways through the BTC kitchens the past 25 years. “We’re trying to give them something they can use in a 45-minute class. This is a way for them to network and take advantage of that.’’
Chef Joe worked the kitchens on Tuesday and Wednesday this week with five teachers turned students that included what he called the southern contingent from Illinois – Jacqualine Mitchell of Harlem District #122, Jane Lang of Hononegah Community High Schools and Susan Fryer of Byron High School – and the northern contingent from Wisconsin – Jennifer Dail of Edgerton and Heather Buttchen of Evansville.
Chef Joe said this was his fifth workshop with high school instructors during his time at BTC.
The menu began Tuesday with some interesting appetizers – Crème Bulee, Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and homemade soft-serve ice cream. If those sound like traditional desserts, you’re right. But it made for an interesting lunch during the mid-day break.
Over the two days, the students also worked on a wide variety of sauces and Tapas, those small plate meals usually loaded with spices and always loaded with taste. They also spent time on what should prove to be a classroom favorite when they return to their own kitchens next fall – French-Mediterranean Style Pizza made with quick rising dough for the crust.
Teachers stand to earn continuing education credits or further certification designations as a result of taking the seminar. Yet, those teachers turned students envisioned even more rewards beyond the delicacies they were creating.
“We do it for the learning experience,’’ Buttchen said. “It makes so much sense to do something like this because it helps us keep up with what’s going on in the industry. It keeps us fresh.’’
June 24, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “BTC board OKs $67.5 million budget, Eckert contract” – By Katherine Krueger – The Blackhawk Technical College District Board approved a $67.5 million budget and a new three-year contract for college president Tom Eckert without debate Thursday.
The board approved the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget, which contains an 11.8 percent increase in spending, most of which will go toward the college’s remodeling of a new instructional space. The new budget will be effective July 1.
The District Board has already leased the 18,819-square foot industrial building at 15 N. Plumb Street in Milton as the future home for its Advanced Manufacturing Training Center. The center, which is set to open in 2014, will include training labs for computer-numerical controlled and industrial maintenance technician programs.
These programs are currently one-year diploma programs, but the additional space means the college can add an option for a second-year specialization for students.
Vice President for Finance and Operations Renea Ranguette said the budget reflects declining support for the state’s 16 technical colleges and is also owed in part to decreased enrollment from peak levels in 2009-10, when around 2,900 students were enrolled.
Board members said the Milton campus means the college will remain a significant engine for creating skilled jobs in the area and the state.
“We’re bringing high-quality and high-paying jobs to the community,” said Victor Gonzalez, a board member. “The dollars and the graduates stay here.”
The board also unanimously approved a new three-year contract for Eckert.
Board vice chair Barbara Barrington said the contract includes a 2 percent salary increase for the first year of the contract. Eckert also will have to pay 50 percent of the total contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System under the terms of the new contract.
The contract was drafted after a “market analysis” of the state’s other technical colleges, Barrington said.
She added that the three-year contract allows for stability in the college’s leadership team heading into such major projects as the Milton expansion.
“We recognized the need for a salary adjustment,” she said.
The board will have to revisit the president’s salary for the remaining two years of the contract down the road.
June 21, 2013
From wisbusiness.com: “BTC Chapter of Society of Human Resource Management earns Merit Award for excellence and achievement” – Blackhawk Technical College’s chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) has been named a Merit Award winner for excellence and achievement for the 2012-13 school year by SHRM’s national organization.
The annual Merit Award program recognizes chapters for activities that enhance the professional development of members and the professional operation of the chapter’s program. Each chapter applying for a Merit Award is required to formally outline its activities, which is then evaluated by the national organization. A program earns a Merit Award if it accumulated enough points for its activities.
Beth Chambers, a Human Resources Instructor, and Colleen M. Koerth, an Employment Specialist Instructor, are co-advisors of the BTC chapter.
The BTC chapter will be recognized for its program online at shrm.org and acknowledged in the national chapter’s Student Focus Magazine, which is distributed quarterly to 17,000 student members as a supplement to HR Magazine. It also will be recognized during the Society’s annual convention.
The Society for Human Resources is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. It represents more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries. There are 575 chapters in the United States.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
“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 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.