From chippewa.com: “State funds to help CVTC cut waiting lists” — EAU CLAIRE – Cassie Blechinger’s future is arriving sooner than expected. She has dreams of becoming a nurse, but has been on the waiting list for the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Nursing-Associate Degree program since last year. Now she will be able to start in the fall term next month, thanks to a state grant designed to get people off waiting lists and into the workforce faster.

In a visit to CVTC’s Health Education Center Friday, July 18, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced the intent to award more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to all 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). The grants will train more than 4,900 workers for in-demand jobs.

CVTC’s share of the grants will be $1,223,540.

“It’s for about 200 more students,” Walker said. “It’s about the students getting the training, not only for a job, but for a career.”

Blechinger, a 2005 Boyceville High School graduate, has been biding her time working as an EMT and in the phlebotomy lab at Mayo Health Systems, but she’s been anxious to get started on a new career, perhaps in pediatric nursing.

“I was scheduled to start the Nursing program in January 2015, Blechinger said. “Now I’ll be able to graduate months early and join the workforce.”

“Our administration has made worker training a top priority, allocating more than $135 million in new resources to equip Wisconsin workers with the skills needed to fill jobs that employers have available,” Walker said. “This substantial investment in the Wisconsin Technical College System will help our top-notch technical colleges build the capacity to train thousands of workers across the state with skills we know are in high demand by employers.”

“It is a vital part of CVTC’s mission to support the workforce needs of the region, and to do so we must constantly keep up with a changing economy,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “The additional funds will increase our ability to respond rapidly to the needs of both our graduates and the employers who want to hire them. Shorter waiting lists in high demand fields serve everyone’s interests.”

Most CVTC programs do not have waiting lists, and there are openings in the fall term for programs in some of the high demand fields. A complete list of the programs with waiting lists that will be positively affected by the grant will be determined by CVTC and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which will administer the grants. Capacity will be added in 100 programs throughout the WTCS system. Training programs cover key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.

“I think it’s great the waiting lists are going to be shorter,” said Blechinger.

“With this announcement, the State of Wisconsin is giving workers the chance to increase their skills and move into a new job or a better job,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson, who also attended Friday’s announcement.

A better job is what Nai Nou Her is hoping for. Her has been expecting to be on the waiting list in the Dental Hygienist program for three years, but now has hopes that the grant will help her move up.

“I just graduated from the Dental Assistant program,” Her said. “I might go to school part time while I’m waiting.” She’s working as a dental assistant, but becoming a hygienist will result in higher pay.

Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year. DWD developed processes to validate wait lists for grant eligibility purposes, evaluate each technical college’s funding request, make award decisions, and monitor taxpayers’ investment. Grant funds can be used for expenses such as course development, instructor wages and purchase of materials. Individual grant awards will be announced for each technical college over the next two weeks.

Funds for the grants were allocated in legislation Walker signed into law in March as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative. The legislation allocated an additional $35.4 million in funds to the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program, with the funds for this grant being part of that.

From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC unveils mobile major” — Chippewa Valley Technical College prides itself on keeping its students up-to-date with new and emerging technologies. But to do so, sometimes faculty and administrators must listen to those students.

That willingness to listen and adapt has led to the introduction this fall of a third major in CVTC’s Information Technology program. The IT-mobile developer major will focus on preparing students to serve the growing need for individuals and businesses to communicate via handheld mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers.

“The popularity of mobile devices has just exploded, and Apple is No. 1 in that area,” says IT Instructor Jon Cooley. “We haven’t had anything in our program to deal with that, and our students were telling us that.”

There will be significant overlap in the required courses in the new mobile developer major and CVTC’s existing software developer major, but several new courses are being introduced specifically to address the world of mobile communication devices.

Cooley will teach the first course to be offered in the mobile developer major. Called Objective C Programming-Cocoa, it will teach students the underlying language for programming Apple’s iPhones and iMac computers.

Development of the mobile developer major was undertaken with input from the IT Department’s Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives of various businesses and industries within CVTC’s 11-county region.

“Most of the companies on our Advisory Committee are using, or are at least planning to introduce, mobile (communication) applications,” Cooley says. “So the base for mobile applications is already here and it will expand.”

As a result, there projects to be a growing number of jobs available to graduates with the mobile developer major at a variety of local companies, including Menards, JAMF Software, IDEXX Laboratories and Menards in Eau Claire; TTM Technologies in Chippewa Falls; and Sajan in River Falls.

But graduates with the mobile developer major won’t face geographic limitations when it comes to seeking employment, Cooley predicts.

“Mobile development has exploded nationally and internationally,” he says. “So learning the skills we’ll teach in this program is basically a passport to getting a job anywhere.”

George Andrews, who also will teach courses in the new major, agrees with Cooley, saying the need for people with mobile developer skills “has pretty much been skyrocketing in the past few years.” That trend will continue, he says, because companies that have an online presence will need to incorporate a mobile aspect.

“The direction technology is heading means that anything you can do on a desktop you will be able to do on your phone with the proper mobile app,” Andrews says.

Shawn Creviston, who chairs CVTC’s IT Department, says the mobile developer major will limit instruction to the Apple and Google Android platforms of mobile technology.

“There are others, like Blackberry and Microsoft, in the smartphone universe. But they don’t have nearly the market share that Apple and Android have,” Creviston says. “For most of the consumers and the businesses around our area, those are the two they focus on.”

The mobile developer major will prepare students for jobs with all kinds of companies, not just those strictly related to computers, Creviston says.

In the CVTC region, graduates will be able to find jobs with many manufacturing plants and retail outlets, he says. And they will find themselves doing things like creating applications for online purchasing, mobile websites and tracking inventory.

“It really comes down to whom you get employed with,” he says. “We have so many different employers in this area and they all have their own needs.”

The Twin Cities will be fertile ground for graduates with a mobile developer major, a key reason it will by the first IT major offered at CVTC’s River Falls campus as well as in Eau Claire, Creviston says.

With its initial allocation of a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, CVTC has installed new labs in Eau Claire and River Falls filled with iMac desktop computers. Most mobile developer courses will be held in the Mac labs.

The grant also will cover the cost of hiring new IT faculty member Eric Wackwitz, who will teach all of the mobile developer courses in River Falls.

Wackwitz, who graduated from CVTC with an IT degree in 1997, returns to the college from United Health Group in Eau Claire, where for the past 15 years he developed mobile applications for business use.

Wackwitz’s description of how he feels about his new job are summed up in a statement that seems to encapsulate the general attitude of all involved in introducing the mobile developer major.

“It’s exciting,” he says, “and terrifying at the same time.”

From leadertelegram.com: “Math, science lessons propel camp” — Gina Filkins figured it would be fun to build a race car, so she signed up for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Race Camp, which took place this week at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Filkins, of River Falls, was among 19 high school participants at the camp, but one of only four girls.

“I think more girls should do camps like this,” Filkins, 14, said. “I’ve always been into science and math, so this has been really fun.”

Throughout this week, race camp participants learned about career opportunities in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a hands on environment, camp director John Wagner said.

Campers focused on powering race cars using three different petroleum-independent technologies: wind, solar and hydrogen. Participants were divided into teams to modify the cars before a race Thursday afternoon.

Along with making the vehicles run with an alternative fuel source, participants learned to adjust the cars’ alignment, gears and tires to optimize their performance, Wagner said.

Elliot Voelker, 15, who will be a sophomore at Regis High School next school year, said he enjoyed racing cars while getting to know other camp participants.

The camp is part of a nationwide effort to expose students to opportunities in STEM-related professions. The event, funded by grants, was started by CVTC staff. Grants provide scholarships to help qualifying students afford the camp.

Tucker Manderscheid, 14, who will be a freshman at Chippewa Falls High School, enjoys modifying cars. His team powered their vehicles with solar power, which he thought was the easiest of the three alternative power sources to use.

Chicagoria Yang, 15, who will be a sophomore at North High School, was part of a team using wind to power its car. Team members adjusted the car’s gears and experimented with different wheels in an effort to enable it to drive more efficiently.

Wagner said some camp participants showed up early to spend extra time working on their cars.

“The kids are so exceptional,” Wagner said.

From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC plugs Energy Education Center into budget” – By Andrew Dowd Leader-Telegram staff — After several years of fundraising and planning, Chippewa Valley Technical College plans to start building a $10.3 million Energy Education Center in August.

With funding included in the 2014-15 budget the CVTC Board approved at its Thursday meeting, the college plans an addition and renovation of a current building to create the new center at its West Campus in Eau Claire.

“This is the year — after four years of planning and raising money — we’ll get to build the Energy Education Center,” CVTC President Bruce Barker said.

The new center still needs approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System Board in July and a second CVTC Board vote following that. A groundbreaking ceremony has tentatively been scheduled for Aug. 19, and CVTC intends for the center to open in fall 2015.

“The project’s become much more tangible,” Tom Huffcutt, CVTC’s vice president of operations, said.

The Energy Education Center will be created through renovation of three areas in the current Transportation Education Center, plus a 21,300-square-foot addition and a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient overhaul of the building’s air conditioning, heating and ventilation system.

Most of those costs will come from borrowing, but about $3 million will be paid by the CVTC Foundation.

About $2 million in private donations have already been made specifically to the center, Barker said, and about $520,000 in foundation reserves would be used too.

Any remaining portion of the foundation’s share could be paid through borrowing, said Kirk Moist, director of finance and borrowing.

The energy center will serve several programs, including electrical power distribution, electric line worker apprentices, landscape, plant and turf management, agriscience and farm business production management. The center will help the students study emerging sustainable energy sources, clean energy generation and distribution, and efficient energy utilization.

“The continued economic recovery in west-central Wisconsin is tied to energy security and independence,” stated a CVTC letter to the state technical college board.

CVTC’s capital projects — money spent on buildings and equipment — is increasing by about 29 percent in the budget, which was approved in a 7-0 vote of CVTC Board members at Thursday’s meeting.

The college had budgeted about $11.9 million for that in the past year, but is expecting to spend $15.3 million in 2014-15.

Though overall spending at the college is rising, local property taxes for CVTC are dropping dramatically.

The CVTC portion of a property tax bill on a $150,000 home will drop from $260 this year to $137 in 2015, according to the budget.

CVTC’s property taxes dive by $16.5 million in the proposed budget, but state aid is rising by about $18.2 million.

The property tax relief comes from Republican legislators who directed $406 million in state funds to technical colleges from a projected $1 billion state budget surplus.

CVTC accounts for a relatively small portion of local property tax bills when compared to municipal, county and school taxes. In Eau Claire, CVTC accounted for 7 percent of this year’s property tax bill.

From chippewa.com: “Menomonie students earn college credit early” — Tyler Luzinski has not finished his junior year at Menomonie High School, but he has a great start on his college education. Luzinski plans to attend Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) to study business management or marketing communications. He already has 12 ½ credits toward a degree from CVTC.

He doesn’t have to pass a test or apply for the credits. They will already be on his CVTC transcript.

His classmate, Adam McCulloch, who plans on attending CVTC in the FireMedic program will have CVTC credits for a medical terminology class he took at Menomonie High School. Senior Ashley McKay will be able to transfer CVTC credits from that same class when she attends UW-Eau Claire in the fall.

The Menomonie students are just three of the hundreds of high school students in western Wisconsin benefitting from college-level classes through CVTC’s dual credit program. Many of these students attend Menomonie High School, which was recognized Friday, May 16 by CVTC with the Partnership Award for its outstanding participation and cooperation in the program.

Full credit

In dual credit classes, known in academic circles as “transcripted credit,” high school students earn full credit directly from the technical college just as if the student took the class at the college. “They get credit on their (CVTC) transcript right away. They don’t have to apply for it. That credit can transfer to a university too,” said CVTC Registrar Jessica Schwartz. “We are looking for ways to create pathways from high school to CVTC, and to their bachelor’s degree at a university.”

The CVTC credits transfer to universities, including UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout, with which CVTC has transfer agreements.

“It’s part of the lifelong learning and career pathways initiative going on in technical colleges and in education as a whole,” said Amy Mangin, who works out the agreements between CVTC and participating high schools.

Dual credit classes must meet college standards, and CVTC instructors and staff work closely with the high schools on the curriculum and instruction. There must be a “100 percent competency match” between what is expected of a CVTC student and what is expected of the high school student, according to Schwartz.

Savings, benefits

Dual credit benefits students in multiple ways. Luzinskl enrolled in dual credit classes in accounting, marketing, computer applications and business management. Having the credits already on his CVTC transcript once he completes his junior year will save him time and money in the future.

“I’m planning on finishing college early,” Luzinski said.

And he can finish college spending or borrowing less money along the way. Schwartz noted that a popular dual credit class is Accounting I, a four-credit CVTC class. By taking the class tuition-free in high school, the students save $544 in tuition, plus $328 for books and materials. In tuition alone, Luzinski has already saved over $2,000 toward his college education.

Dual credit benefits students in career planning and college preparation as well. “High schools are looking at their programs of study and creating seamless transitions into higher education, or into careers,” said Mangin.

“The more students are exposed to a college environment while in high school, the more likely they are to complete college,” said Margo Keys, vice president of student services for CVTC.

“I wanted to see what the college load would be like,” Luzinski said. “I was a little surprised at first, but I’m doing well with it. It’s more self-taught. I like it when I can do more of it myself instead of listening to the teacher talk a lot.”

Starting out ahead

While students recognize the financial and time-saving benefits of dual credit, it’s really all about learning.

“I took Medical Termionology to get the knowledge for my nursing major,” said McKay. “I’ll be ahead of the other students in my class. But it’s very nice the credits will transfer to UW-EC.”

“Taking Medical Terminology is definitely something that will help me throughout my FireMedic program,” McCulloch said. “But the credits help. It would definitely cost me money to take it at CVTC.”

“It’s like getting a check every time you take one of these classes,” said Jeff Sullivan, associate dean of manufacturing at CVTC. “And the students see the rigors of college.

Menomonie High School currently has five dual credit classes through CVTC this school year, with another six classes under investigation for next year. CVTC has been expanding its dual credit offerings throughout its 11-county district. This school year, CVTC has 100 sections of 81 dual credit classes spread over 30 schools. In the 2011-12 school year CVTC had 24 classes in 15 schools throughout the district.

Support for the program is strong in Menomonie, according to Menomonie School District Director of Instruction Brian Seguin. “The community has spoken loud and clear. They want to see us expand our post-secondary partnerships,” Seguin said.

From piercecountyherald.com: “Retraining helps Ingli launch new career” – When the manufacturing plant where she worked shut down in 2011, Amber Ingli found herself in need of a job and at the threshold of what would be some years of struggle for her and her family.

Today, she has a job helping people who are in need of a job.

Ingli, a 1991 Ellsworth High School graduate, received her associate degree from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in the Administrative Professional program May 8. Even before the graduation ceremony, she had lined up work with SEEK, an employment agency in Hudson.

“We’re getting there,” Ingli said of the turnaround from the days of difficulty for her family. “It’s nice to know that I’m going to be working. I feel more at peace.”

Ingli was one of 46 graduates in five academic programs to be honored at the CVTC River Falls Campus commencement held at River Falls High School. The graduates included 21 in the Nursing-Associate Degree program, 12 in Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement, nine in Business Management and three in Marketing Management. Ingli was the only Administrative Professional program graduate.

For Ingli, her CVTC education and assistance from federal job retraining programs were keys to recovery from her job loss. Her husband, Mark, works at his father’s business, Ingli Auto Body in Ellsworth. Amber had a job as a production worker at Johnson Controls in Hudson since 1998. The plant shut down in 2011.

“It was a scary feeling,” Ingli said. “I carried the health insurance for the family. It was a good job, and I was first shift.”

Fortunately, she was eligible for job retraining and financial assistance through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance and Trade Readjustment Allowances programs designed to help workers displaced due to foreign competition. She was able to start her program at CVTC in January 2012, right after the plant shut-down. But that was a scary time, too.

“I was very nervous. Would I know how to study? Does my brain even work anymore? But it all came back to me. I’m graduating with honors,” Ingli said.

One of her concerns was a lack of background in computers, which would be needed for a job in an office setting. But she found the faculty at CVTC knew how to help people like her.

“They’re used to my generation coming back and my younger generation classmates were very helpful,” she said.

Her studies led her to an internship as an administrative assistant in the human resources office at Sajan in River Falls, and that helped her land the job at SEEK, which she started on April 7.

“I recruit applicants and place them in the correct jobs. We don’t want to place people at just any job. We want it to be the right fit,” Ingli said.

Her experience being unemployed after a plant shut-down helps her relate to the applicants coming into SEEK.

“I know what it’s like to be on that side, and a lot of the people we place are in light manufacturing.”

From leadertelegram.com: “High school dropout receives college diploma 31 years later” — By Emily Miels – Until recently, Jim Voss didn’t consider himself a scholarly person.

The former high school dropout didn’t know if he could even pass the G.E.D. test — a test designed to determine whether the test-taker has a high school graduate’s level of knowledge — let alone obtain a college diploma.

On Friday, Voss, who will be 50 in June, will graduate from Chippewa Valley Technical College with a degree in business management and near perfect grades.

After receiving failing grades in high school, Voss dropped out in 1983 to pursue employment.

“Back then it wasn’t uncommon for somebody to leave school to go to work,” Voss said. “I actually hitchhiked to Portage after I dropped out.”

Voss got a job in the newspaper industry. He started as a “paper stuffer” and eventually worked up to various management positions, following job opportunities across the state and Midwest.

“I started at the bottom of the newspaper business, and I rose and rose,” Voss said. “About every four years I was promoted, usually to another company that would see my talents.”

After a series of unforeseen events, including the moving of print operations at the Chippewa Herald — where Voss was working as pressroom manager — to La Crosse, Voss found himself out of a job and searching for new opportunities.

“It scared the bejeebers out of me walking in here,” Voss said about his first day at CVTC in 2012.

Voss didn’t know what to expect when he decided to return to school, but he felt at home at CVTC right away.

“When I walked in here, you know, the students and the instructors all treated me as an equal,” he said.

One of Voss’ main goals was to succeed academically at CVTC. Though he said it wasn’t always easy, he did just that. He is president of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for two-year schools that provides members with grants and networking opportunities.

Valuable experience

CVTC’s business management program helped Voss grow the skills he’d learned during his years in the newspaper industry.

“It helped me expand some of my management knowledge, but it also well-rounded it to more than just one business as well as bringing me up on some of the technology,” he said.

Tom Huffcut, CVTC’s vice president of operations, said students in that program are required to have an internship. Voss was interested in something more advanced, focusing on mid- to senior-level management.

“He approached our president for that reason, who put him in touch with me, and from there I kind of matched him up,” Huffcut said, noting Voss was eager to help and make an impact.

Voss worked on a combined project with human resources and college professional development as an intern. He created surveys, developed spreadsheets, revised outdated policies and participated in leadership programs.

“I learned a lot of things in my classes here, but those people are the trainers of the trainers,” he said. “They train the people that are instructing, and it shows.”

Voss was the department’s first intern. Karen Callaway, his supervisor and professional development specialist at CVTC, said his work continues to be beneficial in developing and customizing training programs.

“He fit right in and everything,” she said. “We were glad to have the help.”

Voss said he hopes to work toward managing operations and feels more confident and prepared than ever.

“I can use my knowledge, my expertise and the things I’ve learned here, and I can apply them to any business,” he said.

From chippewa.com: “CVTC graduates love the caring, excitement of nursing” — EAU CLAIRE — Kensie Hughes of Chippewa Falls likes caring for people, but she also has a bit of a weakness for excitement in her life. Nursing seemed like a natural choice, and she’s hoping someday to work in emergency medicine.

Hughes and 79 other nursing students took big steps toward fulfilling their dreams Friday night when they were among 621 graduates in 44 academic programs receiving degrees and certificates at the spring commencement of Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Nursing had the most graduates at the Eau Claire campus, followed by business management with 38 graduates, and electrical power distribution with 30.

Hughes, a 2008 Chippewa Falls High School graduate, originally completed training as a certified nursing assistant and worked at the Chippewa Manor before starting the nursing program, then taking some time off to start a family. Completing her associate degree in nursing now puts her in line for a long career in health care.

“I always enjoyed helping people,” Hughes said. “I just like being around people. Everyone’s so different and it’s never the same every day.”

Hughes plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the future after she begins working in the field, a typical strategy for CVTC nursing graduates. She also has her eye on emergency room work.

“I love adrenaline. I was a volunteer firefighter for the Chippewa Fire District for a while,” Hughes said.

Liking the caring as well as the excitement in nursing is something Hughes has in common with fellow graduate Jamie Smith of Cornell.

“I really liked my transition experience at Mayo Health Systems,” she said. The transitions part of nursing training involves 80 hours in the field working with cooperating health care providers.

“I was able to respond to level one trauma in the emergency room, and help people who came in with neurological problems and brain trauma,” Smith said.

She started her nursing education at Western Technical College in La Crosse, but came to Chippewa County, where her husband William works at Chippewa Concrete. She transferred to the CVTC program.

“I always wanted to be a nurse. It’s been my passion since I was a little girl,” she said. “I like caring for people, and there’s always diversity in what you do.”

Graduate Ashley Weiss of Menomonie, who is originally from Gilmanton, was the student speaker and urged graduates to have confidence that they can achieve their goals and overcome their failures.

“If you want something bad enough, what you have accomplished here today should be enough to show you that you can absolutely reach any goal you set your mind to,” she said. “But don’t be afraid of failure on your way there. Sometimes those failures are what motivate you to do better and push yourself harder.”

The guest speaker was Jeff West, president of Bear Down, a company that helps companies effectively implement their strategic plans. West was the co-founder and CEO of Silicon Logic Engineering, a company he sold in 2006. West told the story of good employee A and disgruntled employee B.

“I hope each of you someday take the leap and start your own business. There’s nothing else like it in the world,” West said, acknowledging that many have either taken jobs or will soon.

“Every business you work for, no matter the size today, at one point was started by someone with a dream. They put their heart and soul and probably most of their worldly net worth into getting going,” West said. “So the question is, which employee are you going to be? A or B?”

From chippewa.com: “Nursing program offers new career to CVTC grad” — Bethany Smith of Menomonie found manufacturing work wasn’t quite right for her, especially after her hours changed. Now she’s about to embark on a new career after completing the Nursing-Associate Degree program at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC).

“I was working a full-time job, and they switched to a 12-hour shift. I decided I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life,” Smith said.

Smith was one of 621 graduates in 44 academic programs honored Friday night at the CVTC spring commencement ceremony held at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. On Thursday, CVTC honored 46 graduates in five programs at its River Falls Campus. The number of graduates at Eau Claire was very similar to the spring 2013 graduation, which honored 626 graduates.

Retraining help

The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates at the Eau Claire campus are Nursing, with 80 graduates, Business Management with 38 graduates, and Electrical Power Distribution with 30.

When Smith, a single mother, decided to go back to school, she found help through the Bridges2Healthcare program that provides job retraining for displaced and low income workers. The program helped her explore opportunities in the healthcare field.

“I always wanted to do something in the medical field,” Smith said. “I have always been fascinated by the human body and how it works, and I like taking care of people.”

Smith is considering emergency room or surgical work as long-term goals in the nursing field.

“The decision to go back to school was an easy one, but leaving the security of a full-time job was hard,” she said.

Speakers

Among the other graduates was student speaker Ashley Weiss of Menomonie, who is originally from Gilmanton, in the Administrative Professional program. She urged the graduates to have confidence that they can achieve their goals and overcome their failures.

“If you want something bad enough, what you have accomplished here today should be enough to show you that you can absolutely reach any goal you set your mind to,” she said. “But don’t be afraid of failure on your way there. Sometimes those failures are what motivate you to do better and push yourself harder.”

 

From weau.com: “Future looking bright for graduating CVTC students hoping to get a job” – CVTC graduate Joseph Kriese wears love for the Green Bay Packers on his hat and on his shirt — all together with his graduation gown. There is a reason behind it.

“I’m real excited to start,” Kriese said about a new job he was just hired for.

He is getting ready to move to Green Bay and is taking up a position with the Green Bay Packers.

“It was definitely a dream offer; I never thought a 2 year degree would bring me this far,” he said.

He will be working maintenance, HVAC, plumbing and fixing up all the odds and ends to help make sure you enjoy Packers games.

It is a job he found online and one he never thought he would get. Four interviews later he got an offer.

“I don’t think anything could stop me now, I feel good about it,” he said.

Career experts we talked with say the 432 students who graduated from CVTC on Friday night should feel very good about their future. Beth Mathison with Manpower says they will be in high demand.

“A lot of employers are actually standing in line to attract those new grads and they’re begging them to come and work for them at their office,” she said.

She says high-skilled jobs are in high demand.

“There are some companies that specifically do internships with those candidates a year before graduation so they can get them interested in coming to work for them,” she said.

Margo Keys, VP of Student Services at CVTC, says healthcare and manufacturing are hot fields right now. She says colleges like CVTC have built up their programs to meet the demand.

“What we see is more mobility with our students and certainly the classroom has changed significantly with the higher tech,” Keys said.

Whether it is the programs, the need for workers or a combination thereof, the bottom line is students getting two-year degrees are getting jobs.

Past surveys show 90% of CVTC’s graduating classes are employed by January. 89% work in Wisconsin.

In the end Joseph Kriese got out of his program what he wanted: a ticket to work for the Packers.

“It’s just as good as a four-year degree; I mean I landed my job with a two-year degree,” he said.

From chippewa.com: “How not to get burned” — EAU CLAIRE – Kim Nessel, director of the new Fire Safety Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), explained that the heat from a fire of flammable liquids is so intense that a firefighter facing it might have a natural inclination to turn his or her head away from the heat, but that would be a mistake. The proper approach, he said, is to face the fire and let the heat wash around the protective headgear and attack the fire.

The opportunity for firefighters to learn such techniques through firsthand experience is one of the many benefits of the new Fire Safety Center unveiled at Chippewa Valley Technical College Thursday. Nessel, dressed in a silvery protective suit, described the strategy to a crowd of visitors who had just witnessed Nessel quickly extinguish such a fire indoors in a specially designed room.

One of only 5 worldwide

It was one of several demonstrations held at an open house for all of CVTC’s Emergency Services programs in conjunction with a ribbon cutting at the Fire Safety Center.

“This is really a unique facility. There are only five facilities similar to this in the entire world,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker.

The facility, located at the CVTC Emergency Services Campus on Eau Claire’s northwest side, was made possible by donations from the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation and the CVTC Foundation.

“This is a world-class facility head and shoulders above any other facility in the world,” said Maryjo Cohen, president of the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation.

“The Fire Safety Center is set up for multiple functions,” said Nessel. “One is to do testing and research and development of products in the manufacturing phase.”

Burning questions answered

The demonstration at the open house involved the effectiveness of fire extinguishers, which can be weighed at the start and finish of the test to help determine the amount of fire suppression substances needed to handle certain size fires. Future uses for the facility, with some modifications, could include fire testing of building materials and household products.

“At some point manufacturers have to do fire testing, and that’s what the burn room will be set up to do,” Nessel said.

The facility also includes an outdoor burn area, but the indoor 50’ X 50’ burn room is a remarkable feat of engineering, with thick concrete walls 30 feet high and a ceiling lined with fireproof and heat-dissipating calcium silicate tiles. Two fans on the roof and can each move 15,000 cubic feet per second of air. Air intake vents on the walls can be adjusted in conjunction with the fan speeds to tightly control the amount of air fueling the fire. A foam fire suppression system is on hand if needed.

Conditions are controlled by computer in an adjoining observation room, which includes a window into the burn room from which the open house visitors watched the demonstrations.

Greater safety

Use of the facility for product testing will greatly benefit businesses in the area and around the Midwest, and also provide funding to maintain the center.

Highlighted most at the open house, however, was how the center will improve fire safety in the Chippewa Valley through its use as a training facility.

“We’ve never been able to train for certain types of scenarios. This will make the area safer,” Barker said.

“It will allow personnel in our area to get quality training,” said Allyn Bertang, deputy chief of training for the Eau Claire Fire Department. “This is going to be a real controlled environment and help us understand the science of fire behavior.”

“My grandfather would have been very proud to have his name associated with this fire center,” said Cohen, referring to L.E. Phillips. “He would have been the first to give credit where credit is due – to the people of Chippewa Valley Technical College who made this possible.”

“We are extremely grateful to the Phillips Family Foundation for working with us,” Barker said.

Besides the tours and demonstrations at the Fire Safety Center, the open house provided visitors with opportunities to try on fire gear, use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire, try the Jaws of Life for vehicle extrications, learn firearms safety and basic firing range techniques, lift fingerprints from a simulated crime scene and test their handgun accuracy in a firearms simulation game. There were also several demonstrations to observe, including operation of fire trucks and pumps, firefighters rappelling from a tower during a rescue demonstration, EMT and paramedic students demonstrating a cardiac arrest scenario, and criminal Justice students demonstrating a tactical scenario.

From weau.com: “Nurses educators discuss future nursing shortage” – It’s a profession that’s expected to grow nearly 20% in the next 10 years.

In the coming years more nurses will be needed in the area and that has educators and employers looking to the future.

Local nursing programs like the one at Chippewa Valley Technical College say they have a one to three year waiting list to get in and every semester nearly 80 students graduate with degrees.

That may sound like a lot but these programs will need to expand in the future to meet the growing need.

“It’s what I have wanted to do since I was a little girl and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Registered Nurse Elizabeth Bohl said.

For Elizabeth Bohl, who has worked as an R.N. at Sacred Heart Hospital for a year, nursing is more than a career.

Bohl is just one of the nurses that hit the pavement Wednesday to celebrate Nurse’s Week along the trails of Carson Park. The day is a time to thank the men and women who are there day in and day out to help us when we need it. In the coming years we’ll need more nurses to treat the aging population.

“As the baby boomers retire we are going to see higher need for nursing professionals,” CVTC Associate Dean of Health Linda Krueger said.

Krueger says since she first started at CVTC she’s seen all of the health care programs get bigger and the need for more nursing graduates is a shortage they are hoping to fill.

“We tend to admit 72 to 88 students a semester and then we graduate every semester 80 to 85 students,” Krueger said.

Even with a fresh batch of faces graduating every couple of months from CVTC’s Nursing Program, those in the business say the need for more help is still there.

“We are full almost every day of the week and it just keeps getting busier,” Registered Nurse Roxanne Mewhorter said.

It’s not just quantity, it’s quality. Despite the growing need, both nurses and educators say patient care will always be a top priority.

“We are still concerned with patient outcomes and that’s where good nursing care comes in,” Krueger said.

“I like to see the patients and their families. You can see that you can make a difference and helped them. It’s always a push to go back to work,” Bohl said.

On top of a projected shortage in nurses in the future, four Wisconsin universities including UW-Eau Claire are offering a loan forgiveness program to students trying to get into nursing education. That program is meant to fill the growing need for nursing instructors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting early

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some employers are anxious to find applicants.

Increased demand

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

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

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

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

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

Plenty of openings

Companies tended to be quite familiar with CVTC graduates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From chippewa.com: “Students learn business communications on fast track” — As a non-traditional student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Business Management program, Jim Voss of Boyd had something of an advantage going into the Speed Networking event held as part of a planning and decision making class. He’s been at ease talking to people for years.

“I just never thought of it as ‘networking,’ ” Voss said. But he’s long understood the value of making business connections through personal connections. It’s something business people do constantly in social settings, but for some, especially young people, it can be difficult.

“You don’t have people waiting to talk to you,” Voss said about those social situations. “You have to go up and meet people.”

Getting some practice doing that was what the Speed Networking event March 31 at CVTC was all about.

The event involved 40 business people, matching the number of students in the class. Students are told to dress for a business setting but are not allowed to bring a resume. Although skills developed may help in job interviews, it is not an interview practice session, but something more informal.

Students sit down with the volunteers and talk for five minutes, then switch tables and talk with a new volunteer, meeting as many of the business people they can in the allotted time. This networking practice prepares the students for the real thing when they attend the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours networking session April 14.

The Speed Networking event, now in its seventh year, was developed by now-retired CVTC Business Management instructor Grace Rich, along with Jeff Pepper, who is now associate dean of business.

“It’s for the students to experience networking in a controlled environment,” said Mary Felton-Kolstad, who teaches the class.

Rich recalls that the idea for the event actually came from a student, who noted that one skill he didn’t learn, but needed, was how to talk to people he didn’t know.

Voss was a pressman for Chippewa Valley Newspapers for many years and is now studying business at CVTC in search of a new career after industry changes left him without work. His maturity made it easier for him to converse with the business people, many of whom were much younger than him. Still, he had much to gain from the exercise through meeting a variety of business people.

“One of the things I noticed was the directness and the honesty of the business people,” Voss said. “They all had something to say and offered some pointers.”

A couple of the business people Voss met gave him the names of others he could contact in his upcoming job search. “People that know people – that’s what networking is all about. Where else can you get 40 business people willing to meet with students?”

Student Patrick Seipel of Menomonie shared his desire to own his own business someday with the networking contacts he met.

“I was pretty built up around introducing myself,” Seipel said. “I’d talk about what I want to do the next year or the next couple of years and what I want to build for myself.”

Then he would ask the business people about themselves and their companies, sometimes finding a special connection. His business idea involved production of homemade candies and he heard a couple of tips about certified kitchens where he could get started.

“I made some good connections and a possible job opportunity from one of them,” Seipel said.

The business professionals were happy to help, and also saw benefit in the event for themselves and their businesses.

“I made my calendar open so I could do it,” said Kathy Christiansen, director of Lakeland College’s center in Chippewa Falls. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to give back and try to help students feel comfortable. It can be uncomfortable for them to walk up to someone and start a conversation.”

Christiansen was not there on a recruitment mission, but she was aware that some of the students may be interested in going back to school for additional degrees after they graduate from CVTC. “At least they will know we are available. It gave me an opportunity to tell my story. I’m a CVTC graduate who went to Lakeland,” Christiansen said.

Matt Jentile of Fastenal in Chippewa Falls saw the events as a benefit to the students and his company.

“Part of my job as a district manager is recruiting,” Jentile said. We have to get involved with technical colleges and universities and keep our pipeline full. We are growing so fast we want to reach out to students while they’re still in school.”

The Speed Networking event was in a structured setting, but after it was over, a large group of students and business people continued to network, gathering at the Green Mill restaurant and lounge in Eau Claire.

From inwisconsin.com: “State launches expanded, accelerated training program for trucking jobs” — Pewaukee – Governor Scott Walker made a stop at the Waukesha County Technical College today to announce the launch of a new program, designed to channel Wisconsin residents, including veterans, through accelerated training courses and into guaranteed placements at companies in the growing trucking industry.  Up to 300 Wisconsinites who pass eligibility screening will earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and advance to a placement at one of three Wisconsin trucking firms.

“Wisconsin’s transportation industry is experiencing a significant skills gap that will continue through at least 2020, and we need to act aggressively to address this issue,” Governor Walker said.  “Innovative approaches, like this accelerated training program, are the kinds of investments we need.  The incentive of a guaranteed placement at the conclusion of the program makes this initiative a win-win for employers and Wisconsin’s working families.”

The new CDL training program represents collaboration between the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Wisconsin Technical College System, transportation industry leaders, and three major Wisconsin employers: Schneider National of Green Bay, Roehl Transport of Marshfield, and WEL of De Pere.

The Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) will begin offering it this summer.  The Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offer related instruction at their sites.

“As Wisconsin’s lead state agency for talent development, DWD supports innovative workforce solutions that prepare individuals for careers in growing industry sectors,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson.  “We were pleased to convene the workgroup that ultimately led to this new initiative.  Wisconsin workers benefit with skills training and guaranteed placements and participating employers benefit with a direct pipeline to fill their openings.  Both efforts benefit Wisconsin’s economy.”

“One of WEDC’s areas of emphasis is to work with our partners throughout Wisconsin to help expand workforce training systems, especially for the state’s key industries,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization.  “There is no question that Wisconsin trucking companies need more qualified drivers to ensure their continued success, and the continued success of our economy.  We believe this program will play a key role in helping to fill that need.”

Up to 300 eligible job seekers will complete a four-week training course that results in a Commercial Driver’s License and a guaranteed placement at one of the three participating companies.  Once placed, the successful graduates will complete the standard introductory stage at the company and become a permanent hire.  Experienced semi-truck drivers can earn more than $23 per hour, or approximately 15 percent above the average wage in Wisconsin.

In the program, potential participants register on JobCenterofWisconsin.com and complete a series of assessments to determine their eligibility.  Those deemed eligible will complete the four-week training course offered through FVTC or WCTC, and then be matched with a guaranteed placement at one of the three trucking employers.

Given a capacity of 300 placements, DWD is prioritizing veterans, dislocated workers, workers who receive federal Trade Adjustment Assistance, and certain individuals who are eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.  The training and placements will be at no cost to the participant.  Other interested job seekers who are deemed eligible for the program will be asked to cover the $2,500 cost of the training.

The transportation companies’ hiring needs are in line with projections showing the need for semi-truck drivers will grow by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, to more than 55,000 semi-truck drivers.

Governor Walker recently signed legislation as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative to increase funds in the nationally-recognized Wisconsin Fast Forward by $35.4 million to focus on three key areas, including:

  • Grants to Wisconsin technical colleges to reduce wait lists in high-demand fields;
  • Collaborative projects among businesses, school districts, technical colleges, and educational partners to equip high school pupils with industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields; and
  • Programs that enhance the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, the current round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program announcements includes $1 million in available funds for employer-driven worker training programs for transportations, logistics, and distribution occupations.  These funds can be used to train new workers for job openings or train existing workers that results in a wage increase.

Interested job seekers are encouraged to visit https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com/Trucking/ or contact their local Job Center, which can be located at http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/directory/.

From leadertelegram.com: “Local high school students get college jump-start” — Ashley Carlson’s notebook page was neatly divided into two parts, with topics on the left side of the paper and details on the right.

Also on the left side of the page, Carlson wrote notes to herself, reminders such as “Double Check” and “New Stuff.”

Carlson, an Eau Claire Memorial High School senior, was learning valuable study skills along with algebra in her first-ever class on a college campus.

Area students have been taking college-level classes while still in high school through advanced placement and dual credit programs for some time. But twice a week Carlson sits in a classroom at Chippewa Valley Technical College with 23 other Memorial and Eau Claire North High School students, learning not only algebra skills but how to study effectively as well.

The goal of the program is to increase the odds of students completing college by giving them an early taste of it.

The experience was made possible through a College Success grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. With the grant, CVTC and the Eau Claire school district implemented the class as part of the Collaboration for Postsecondary Success (CAPS) program.

“We want them to get the college experience within the institution,” said CVTC academic services instructor Molly Craker, the grant coordinator. “We want them on our campus so they are introduced to our resources such as academic services, diversity resources, academic advisors and counselors.”

College dropout rates are higher for students from minority groups, low-income families, and first-generation college students. The CAPS program targets students from such groups.

“We were looking for students with a high likelihood of post-secondary attendance who could benefit from the program,” said Dianna Zeegers, an Eau Claire school district instructor who teaches college success strategies in the CAPS program.

Students gain credit toward their high school graduation and credit at CVTC that can be transferred to other institutions. The content instructor for the class is CVTC math teacher Mike Davis.

“We teach intermediate algebra, but the bigger lessons being learned are the opportunities that college can present.” Davis said. “They get treated as adults and some of them are not used to that as high school students.”

Among the lessons students said they learn by participating in the program is that success in college takes work.

“One of the first things (Davis) said to us was if you are not going to use your time well in class, there’s no point being here,” said Carlson. “It helps me to take class time a lot more seriously.”

The college experience involves much more than not having to get a hall pass to go to the bathroom. Much of students’ work is done online through a program called MyMathLab, which allows students to learn and work at home.

“They use an electronic textbook, which may be new to many of them,” Craker said.

Students notice, too, that the college will work with them to help them succeed. Many students make use of the Academic Services Center.

“I go there every Wednesday,” Memorial senior Kayli Werk said of the Academic Services Center. “The lady down there is super-helpful. Instead of giving you the answer, she’ll give you worksheets to help you understand it.”

Werk said Davis encourages students to ask questions and shows concern that students understand the concepts.

“I’m not really good at math,” said Carlson. “It’s shocking to me that I’m doing so well.”

Davis said the students he teaches generally are ready for the college work.

“Some of the students have had math at the level we are teaching. For some it is very new to them,” Davis said. “But they are all learning personal responsibility.”

Zeegers helps students with that part of the class. On a recent day she taught them the divided-page method of taking good notes, called “Cornell Notes,” and modeled it on an easel in front of the class. “As they progress through the class, I give them feedback on their notes and assess them on that,” Zeegers said.

The hybrid college/high school class seems to be well-received by participating students.

“I signed up because I thought I would get a taste of what college math would be like,” North senior Dave Zook said. “It’s going all right. We’re getting into some new stuff, but people are good at helping us out.”

Carlson said the algebra class is a good warm-up for her future education plans, which include attending CVTC next school year.

“This was an awesome opportunity,” Carlson said.

Davis said he’s happy to see his students advance their math skills as they mature into young adults.

“There’s definitely a handful of them that we know we have changed their path,” Davis said. “And when they say ‘I don’t know what I want to do,’ we help them work through that.”

 

From lacrossetribune.com: “Lincoln students get creative with junkyard sculpture in welding contest” — Lincoln High School students are too creative to weld a sculpture of just any old fish out of scrap metal for the Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing Show’s Junkyard Battle welding contest.

“I came up with the idea of the fish body,” said senior Nicki Danielson. “I just thought an angler fish would be awesome.”

But that wasn’t all. They had it in a tank of water, set up a system by which it could be raised from the tank by turning a wheel, had a spout of water coming out of its mouth through use of a pump system and integrated a little game with prizes. The effort was good enough to win second place, with another angler fish sculpture from Fall Creek taking first. The Lincoln team took first place at last year’s show.

Lincoln High School had a strong showing at the manufacturing show, with over 40 students coming in attendance. The students and other participants and visitors to the show experienced just how interesting and fun manufacturing can be. Area high school students were heavily involved in this year’s show. Besides the Junkyard Battle, students created complicated mazes in the machine tooling technics contest, and in electromechanical technology, students built robots to navigate a simple maze as fast as possible.

Visitors were able to don masks and try their hands at welding under the watch and with assistance from a CVTC student or instructor. People saw automated machines that could play guitar, set up bowling pins and make a golf putt – all designed and created by CVTC students. The chair on the flight simulator moved with the banking of the plane on the screen. In the nano engineering technology area, students demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen.

Nearly 40 companies from around the Chippewa Valley set up displays to show their company’s role in area manufacturing, and to recruit future employees.

“In the Chippewa Valley, close to 40,000 people make their living in manufacturing,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker in opening the show along with Gov. Scott Walker. “Ninety-one percent of our graduates have jobs within six months, 89 percent are right in the state of Wisconsin, and 70 percent are in northwest Wisconsin.”

A major purpose of the show was to present the modern face of manufacturing.

“If you go in our shops, they’re bright, they’re clean, they’re automated, and it takes a high skill level to operate the equipment,” said associate dean of manufacturing Jeff Sullivan.

To many of the young people attending, there was just a lot of fun stuff to do, like race robots and show off their junkyard fish sculptures.

The Lincoln team’s sculpture incorporated concepts of metal working, making it an educational piece as well. The tank of water, for example, can serve as a common welding shop tool.

“You can put a piece of metal you just welded in the fish’s mouth and lower it down to cool it. It’s called a quench tank,” Danielson said.

“We made a prototype of the sculpture out of cardboard,” said team member Edwin Ramos. “Nicki was the lead welder in putting her dream together.”

Team member Daniel Brown brought a lot of the junk used to make the sculpture.

“I got a lot of used junk trucks sitting around. I had an old fuel pump from a Chevy truck and an old fuel line, and wired it all up,” he said, explaining how he made the pump system for the spout of water.

Ramos explained another part of the process.

“We used an old water boiler, band saw blades, a weight bench, and a chain for the hook,” he said.

Many students in Scot Kelly’s principles of engineering class helped on the sculpture.

While many high school students took part in competitions, many students and members of the public came to learn more about opportunities in manufacturing. Jonathan Hurd, 23, of Fall Creek was eyeing up a new career by visiting the various program areas.

“I’m interested in electromechanical technology, but I’d love to learn it all,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I came, to get a feel for it all.”

Becky Larson of Eau Claire came with her husband and their son, Nick, who is in eighth grade. “I wanted to see what opportunities are out there for a job, and so many of the jobs that are coming up are going to be in manufacturing,” she said.

Larson, a middle school counselor, was also picking up information for her students who are beginning to think about careers.

“Electromechanical technology was fun with all the projects they do, like the ‘Smoke on the Water,’ one that played guitar by itself,” said Nick Larson.

Approximately 2,000 people attended the show, including Walker, who noted in opening remarks to an audience mostly of high school students that the Wisconsin flag displays the tools of manufacturing.

“It’s part of our heritage and our history, and it’s part of our future,” Walker said. “Manufacturing is leading our state’s economic recovery, and we need to encourage the next generation of workers by educating everyone about the great, family-supporting jobs available. These students are the future of our workforce; and by providing quality, highly technical training, we are setting them up for success and securing Wisconsin’s place among the top manufacturers in the country.”

From chippewa.com: “Herald, Dunn County News launch Extra Effort program” – If you want a lesson in resiliency, you don’t have to look far. Just point yourself in the direction of the nearest school, where many kids provide daily examples.

For instance: students who come from split families and single-part families, who have had to deal with tragedy and loss; students who have had to work through communication barriers that impacted their studies; and students who have persevered through cancer diagnosis and other health ailments.

It is our goal to tell several of these inspirational stories in the coming weeks as part of a program called Extra Effort that we are launching in the Chippewa Valley. The program will honor high school seniors who have overcome challenges or provided exemplary service to the community, often with little recognition.

Extra Effort is about students on the verge of adulthood who have tales of struggle, illness and survival, or of making a dedicated effort to give back to the community. Their road hasn’t typically been an easy one. They likely aren’t star athletes or valedictorians. They probably don’t have perfect grades. But many of them have overcome tremendous odds, and the one thing they all have in common is the way they can inspire.

All area high schools have been invited to take part. The Chippewa Herald and our sister paper, the Dunn County News in Menomonie, will publish profiles of a student from each school in the coming weeks. Our first one will appear in Monday’s Herald.

We are partnering in this program with the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College, to recognize and provide some scholarship assistance to the Extra Effort winners. The three institutions will take turns in hosting a spring reception for the students who are chosen to represent their schools. This year’s reception will be hosted by UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday, May 21.

Extra Effort is based on a program that our fellow Lee papers in La Crosse and Winona, Minn., in conjunction with its higher-ed institutions, have been operating for several years. The program has been extremely well received by the public and the educational community.

“We’re very fortunate to develop this dynamic partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Stout and UW-Eau Claire to honor some high school seniors who have overcome obstacles or provided exemplary service to their communities,” Herald Publisher Rusty Cunningham said. “Our programs in La Crosse and Winona have recognized and provided scholarship help to some courageous students who otherwise wouldn’t have received the recognition they deserve,” Cunningham said.

It is our plan to make Extra Effort a beloved yearly tradition in the Chippewa Valley, just as it has become in the River Valley.

“I can honestly say that this program tops my list as a favorite part of my career, because this recognition is nothing less than life-changing for these kids and an inspiration for us all,” says Patty Shepard, a counselor at Holmen High School. She said she could probably name every one of her school’s recipients and is in contact with many of them, all of whom continue to succeed.

“The Extra Effort program is an incredible endeavor that connects the area businesses and post-secondary institutions with our schools and most importantly, highlights the value of our youth through their incredible stories. We are so very privileged to be part of this program,” Shepard said.

We are privileged to be able to tell the stories of our 2014 Extra Effort recipients. They are deserving of your time, just as the subjects are deserving of your admiration.

From weau.com: “Walker attends Manufacturing Show at Chippewa Valley Technical College” – How technology is used in manufacturing was the major focus of a show at CVTC Thursday.

The manufacturing show featured more than 20 companies and a number of programs at the college. It also included a junkyard battle competition where area high school students showcased their talents.

Governor Scott Walker was at the event to see all the college had to offer. He said it’s great to have the connection between the technical college and area high schools to show younger students the opportunities available after graduation.

“It’s amazing to see the things they make, really incredible work, and its great to see all the high schoolers coming by to see the oppourtunities in manufacturing,” said Governor Scott Walker.

More than 40 regional manufacturing businesses were also at the event to talk to guests about career opportunities.

View video from weau.com

From leadertelegram.com: “Manufacturing in the spotlight” — A group of high school students stood wide-eyed as a Chippewa Valley Technical College student dropped a metal ball that seemed to defy gravity as it fell through a simple copper tube. It fell slowly through the tube as if moving in molasses, never touching the sides.

The demonstration of electromagnetic forces took place in the Nano Engineering Technology area of CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center last March at the annual Manufacturing Show, which returns for a third year Thursday.

That simple ball-and-tube trick will have to take a distant back seat to other high-end demonstrations this year. For instance, CVTC now has equipment that uses streams of water under extremely high pressure to cut metal in precise detail, without the harmful effects heat-based metal cutting can leave behind.

Manufacturing Show demonstrations also will include a three-dimensional printer that doesn’t use ink. Instead, it produces, layer after layer, at high speed, a 3-D plastic model of items drawn up with paper and numbers.

“It gives us an ability to replicate a concept or design, showing the working parts,” said CVTC Associate Dean of Manufacturing Jeff Sullivan. “The printers are being used a lot in the medical field.”

New machine tool program equipment that will be on display is capable of speeds up to 12,000 rpm. “The purpose of the high speed is higher accuracy and tighter tolerances,” Sullivan said.

And the purpose of students working on such a machine is to prepare them for the kind of equipment being used in the industry today, important given the prevalence of the machine tool industry in the Eau Claire area.

Welcome to the world of modern manufacturing. People who still picture manufacturing as taking place in dark, dingy places with low-skilled workers doing simple repetitive work will have their minds changed by attending the show, people affiliated with the event said.

“The entire show will present a good overview of manufacturing careers in western Wisconsin,” said Roger Stanford, CVTC vice president of instruction. “We have a great diversity of manufacturing companies in this area, many of them producing products that are getting attention worldwide. Attendees can learn more about these companies at the Manufacturing Show and how CVTC prepares workers for lucrative careers in manufacturing.”

About 20 manufacturing companies will have displays about their role in their industries and in the Chippewa Valley economy. They will use the show to recruit new workers as well.

Joining those companies will be representatives of CVTC’s manufacturing programs: electromechanical technology, industrial mechanic, industrial mechanical technician, machine tooling technics, welding and welding fabrication. Some of the physical science programs, such as nano engineering technology, manufacturing engineering technologist and industrial engineering technician also will be involved.

Students play a vital role in the show. As part of regular course work, they have constructed and programmed robotic equipment that performs such tasks as playing a guitar, making a golf putt or resetting bowling pins.

Area high school students also will be heavily involved in this year’s show. Back again will be the Junkyard Battle, in which high school welding students will compete with their creations made of scrap metal. Last year the contest featured student-made sculptures of their school mascots. This year’s show will feature several more competitions.

Machine tool students will compete in the Amazing Maze event, creating complicated mazes in competition for the best design. Engineering students will use computer-aided design programs to draw up plans for devices. The top design will be reproduced on the 3D printer.

In the electromechanical area, students will create robots that work through a maze without human intervention. The industrial mechanics program is working on a competition involving development of miniature cannons.

“We are reaching out to our K-12 school district partners to develop agreements and programs that expose younger students to manufacturing and prepare high school students for entry into CVTC’s manufacturing programs,” Sullivan said.

The event has been well-attended by the general public since its inception, and area school districts take advantage by using it as an educational experience for students. Some parents bring their children who are starting to think about careers.

The show offers plenty for attendees to do, such as trying out simulators, watching robotic welders, learning what local manufacturers are producing and witnessing student creativity.

From riverfallsjournal.com: “For tech college students, simulation lab brings medical reality” – When nursing students at Chippewa Valley Technical College in River Falls work on a training scenario with one of the school’s high-tech simulation mannequins, they can rely only on their own knowledge and instincts.

There’s no glancing over at an instructor in search of a nod of approval for a chosen course of action.

The instructor watches from a separate room, behind glass that students cannot see through. She listens, observes, and controls the simulator to react accordingly to what the students do — good or bad.

“This is more realistic than it was before,” said student Anna Hinde, originally from Barron. “We are able to have some hands-on, real-life experiences.”

Added Colin McConville of Hudson: “We have a lot more space, there are more mannequins, and we’ve got a new teaching lab.”

Use of computerized simulation mannequins — that breathe, react, and have vital signs like real patients — have been part of the CVTC Nursing program at River Falls for years. However, the new simulation lab, which opened in January, seems to be a vast improvement.

“Our environment here is more representative of an actual hospital room,” said Simulation Technician Cynthia Anderson, registered nurse. “The old lab was about half the size of one room in the new lab, and had a noisy air compressor in the room to run the mannequins. Our air compressor is now in another room.”

The mannequins were used to be placed on something like old hospital gurneys. Now there are real hospital beds for the mannequins and sometimes live people playing patients.

“We’re not tripping on cords anymore,” said Bethany Geske, a nursing student who lives in Menomonie, in reference to power cords to the equipment that used to be taped down but are now under the floor.

The lighting is far better, and includes a large window to provide natural light, but set high enough to prevent outside distractions and watchers.

Even small details, like the addition of an in-lab telephone, are important. Students sometimes have to call a doctor or pharmacist (played by an instructor) from the simulator bedside.

“They get the experience of calling the physician, and learning how to speak with the physician,” said Anderson, a registered nurse since 1990 with years of experience at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn.

An adjacent Learning Resource Center (LRC) for the nursing program is also an important addition.

The center is equipped with smaller artificial body parts like arms, hands and heads. Students practice skills such as making injections and inserting intravenous needles.

For CVTC Nursing students, doing homework involves more than reading a textbook.

“I’ve used it on occasion to practice skills like suctions and inserting catheters,” McConville said.

Another major addition to the program this term is “Noel,” a birth mother simulator. The mannequin actually simulates the birth of a little rubber baby newborn, with realistic vital signs and potential problems for the mother.

“The baby can be born breach, with a stuck shoulder, or with respiratory difficulty,” Anderson said, mentioning a few of the complications.

A newborn infant simulator, separate from the rubber birth baby, is also new. It shows vital signs and reacts like the adult models.

A newborn baby can have a bluish hue, which is normal and soon fades. The simulator is sophisticated enough for instructors to prolong the bluish tint and observe when students notice it as a matter of concern.

“We didn’t have the baby mannequin before this year,” said Natalie Miranda, a student from Lakeland, Minn. “We would have to drive to Eau Claire to do that.”

From chippewa.com: “New CVTC simulation lab boosts medical realism” — When nursing students at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC’s) River Falls campus are working on a training scenario with one of the college’s high-tech simulation mannequins, they can rely only on their own knowledge and instincts. There’s no glancing over at an instructor in search of a nod of approval for a chosen course of action.

The instructor is watching from a separate room, behind glass that students cannot see through. She listens, observes and controls the simulator to react accordingly to what the students do — good or bad.

“This is more realistic than it was before,” said student Anna Hinde, originally from Barron. “We are able to have some hands-on, real-life experiences.”

“We have a lot more space, there are more mannequins, and we’ve got a new teaching lab,” added Colin McConville of Hudson.

Use of computerized simulation mannequins — which breathe, react, and have vital signs like real patients — has been part of the CVTC Nursing program at River Falls for years. However, the new simulation lab that opened in January is a vast improvement over the previous facility.

“Our environment here is more representative of an actual hospital room,” said Simulation Technician Cynthia Anderson, R.N. “The old lab was about half the size of one room in the new lab and had a noisy air compressor in the room to run the mannequins. Our air compressor is now in another room.”

The mannequins were previously placed on something like old hospital gurneys. Now there are real hospital beds for the mannequins and sometimes live people playing patients.

“We’re not tripping on cords anymore,” said Bethany Geske, a Nursing student who lives in Menomonie, in reference to the power cords to the equipment that used to be taped down and are now under the floor.

The lighting is far better and includes a large window to provide natural light, but set high enough to prevent outside distractions and watchers.

Even small details, like the addition of an in-lab telephone, are important. Students sometimes have to call a doctor or pharmacist (played by an instructor) from the simulator bedside. “They get the experience of calling the physician, and learning how to speak with the physician,” said Anderson, an RN since 1990 with years of experience at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn.

An adjacent Learning Resource Center (LRC) for the Nursing program is also an important addition. The center is equipped with smaller artificial body parts like arms, hands and heads. Students practice skills such as making injections and inserting intravenous needles. For CVTC Nursing students, doing homework involves more reading a textbook.

“I’ve used it on occasion to practice skills like suctions and inserting catheters,” McConville said.

Mother and child

Another major addition to the program this term is “Noel,” a birth mother simulator. The mannequin actually simulates the birth of a little rubber baby newborn, with realistic vital signs and potential problems for the mother.

“The baby can be born breach, with a stuck shoulder, or with respiratory difficulty,” Anderson said, mentioning just some of the complications.

A newborn infant simulator, separate from the rubber birth baby, is also new. It shows vital signs and reacts like the adult models. A newborn baby can have a bluish hue, which is normal and soon fades. The simulator is sophisticated enough for instructors to prolong the bluish tint and observe when students notice it as a matter of concern.

“We didn’t have the baby mannequin before this year,” said Natalie Miranda, a student from Lakeland, Minn. “We would have to drive to Eau Claire to do that.”

Sometimes a birth mother and baby were brought from Eau Claire, but transportation and set-up are cumbersome, Anderson said.

Nursing students go out into the field to do “clinical” studies at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, but the simulation lab work is an essential part of the training.

“It allows them to experience things differently,” said Jennifer Buekema, a CVTC Nursing instructor. “In a clinical situation, we of course don’t let students harm patients. Here, we can let the students make mistakes in the lab.”

“They set up scenarios that we may not see in the real-life clinical settings, but can see later in our professional lives,” said Miranda.

The instructor from the observation room can demonstrate with the mannequin the consequences, through a sudden change in vital signs, evidence of pain, and even a “code blue” cardiac arrest.

“A couple of weeks ago, we were in a code blue, when we had to do CPR,” Geske said.

The students say this kind of hands-on experience is one of the reasons they chose to attend CVTC. It allows them to be ready to enter the workforce right away, even if their plans include further education.

Geske, McConville and Hinde plan on getting nursing jobs after their May graduation, but going back to school to seek four-year or advanced degrees gaining experience as they complete their education.

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