May 21, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Cadott’s Weiland brothers take different paths to the golf course” – CADOTT — Twin brothers Scott and Eric Weiland are like typical twins in some regards.
The two brothers hold many traits in common.
They’re both competitive. They’re both passionate. They have common interests. Their personalities have specific quirks, but in general are quite similar.
However, on the golf course it’s a different story. Both enjoy the game, obviously.
But the paths they took in joining the Cadott boys golf team, and the paths they hope to take after graduating this year are markedly different.
Seniors on a Hornets golf team that hopes to advance to the WIAA Division 3 state tournament in June, Scott and Eric Weiland will be heavily counted on to do their share if Cadott is going to reach its ultimate goal.
Scott is the more experienced golfer of the two, having played as either the No. 1 or No. 2 player on the Hornets since he made the varsity squad as a freshman. So far this year, Scott has taken medalist honors at two Cloverbelt Conference meets and was just a couple strokes from qualifying as an individual for state a season ago.
Meanwhile, Eric is the No. 4 player, having joined the team a few weeks into the season last year after having tried baseball his first couple years of high school.
At first, both Scott and Eric began their golfing careers together in middle school, learning from Cadott golf coach Brad Rogers at a summer junior program. In fact, according to Scott, Eric was the better golfer when the two were just starting out.
But Scott soon developed a deep passion for the sport that made it a primary focus in his life, while Eric liked to try other activities, enjoying golf more as a pastime.
“Even back then (in middle school), Scotty was more of a student of the game. He really just ate it up, was studying it, was really serious,” Rogers said. “Pretty much all the time, Eric had his driver and was bombing for the fence.”
When the two began high school, Eric decided to go out for the baseball team instead of joining the golf team. After a couple years in baseball, Eric, at Scott’s urging, decided to join golf.
“I had a lot of things I wanted to do and I wanted to try them, see if I did like them,” Eric said. “That (baseball) is one of the things I tried quick. I ended up not liking it at all so then I went back out for golf. Scott helped me out a lot with everything.”
Not only did Scott want Eric to join golf because he thought he may enjoy it more, but the Hornets also needed a guy who could shoot consistently after a few seniors graduated from the year before.
“I thought it would help the team because we were losing a couple of our golfers that were seniors, graduating,” Scott said. “We needed a solid No. 4/5 seed and I thought he would have the talent to do it.”
However, when Eric joined the team midway through last season, the rust of not having played golf for a couple years was apparent. In his first practice round, he shot a 63, leaving Rogers a bit deflated. But, four-iron in tow (Eric doesn’t currently carry a driver), he got his game back into shape and has become a steady player for the Hornets.
“He really worked on the game, was consistently working on it,” Rogers said. “By the end of the season, he was shooting high 40s. That was all within a matter of about three or four weeks. He’s a quick learner, stuck with it.”
This year and beyond
As Scott and Eric finish up their high school careers, their paths will once again diverge.
With plans to attend UW-Stout in the fall, Scott wants to have a career in golf — his passion since his cousin Ray Weiland, Jr. took him out on the course about six years ago. Between taking lessons with Cadott golf pro John Pozarski, working at Whispering Pines Golf Course and spending his free time on the links, Scott has devoted much of his life to the sport and wants to keep it that way.
Meanwhile, Eric hopes to start a career as a fire medic and is already a volunteer firefighter. Enrolling at Chippewa Valley Technical College following the school year, saving peoples’ lives and helping out in any way he can is Eric’s goal in life.
Unfortunately, that goal will also mean that the Cadott golf team’s road to state could be a bit bumpier.
Eric begins an EMT class on Tuesday — the same day of regionals for Cadott, meaning the Hornets will need to manage without a player who has developed into a consistent performer for the team.
But with the way Scott — who Rogers believes will make it to state as an individual at the very least — and the rest of the team has been playing, a trip to state is still within the realm of possibility even if Eric isn’t available for regionals.
It is fitting that this is how it played out though. As unfortunate as the timing is, Eric is simply following his passion. Scott is following his.
The golf course brought them together as brothers for the past two years, but the real world will once again send them in different directions, albeit maybe a bit sooner than they would have liked.
Said Rogers: “Eric pretty much lives for firefighting and fire rescue, while Scotty lives for golf.”
May 20, 2013
From riverfallsjournal.com: “Mother, daughter earn tech-college degrees” – When Ashley Colbeth came to the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) River Falls Campus a couple of years ago to take a placement test in typing, her mother, Susan, came along with her.
At that point Susan wasn’t even thinking about attending CVTC herself, but layoffs from two jobs led her to give a lot of thought to her future.
Now the future has come into focus for both mother and daughter as both crossed the same stage last Thursday night and accepted diplomas in the same program, from the same school.
The Colbeths were among 67 graduates in six programs honored at the May 9 CVTC commencement ceremony at River Falls High School.
They were among seven graduates in the Administrative Professional program, both receiving scholastic honors.
Though Susan, 52, and Ashley, 22, are at different stages in their lives, they came to CVTC for the same reason, one shared by so many CVTC graduates — a need for a new career direction.
Ashley took a Certified Nursing Assistant class at CVTC a few years ago. She was working in the field in River Falls before attending Carroll University in Waukesha to study physical therapy and exercise science.
The university didn’t work out, partly because of the distance from her support network of friends and family. So Ashley moved back home.
“I got my old job back, but I wanted something more behind-the-scenes, in office work instead of patient care,” said Ashley, about enrolling in CVTC’s Administrative Professional program.
Susan, a 1979 Ellsworth High School graduate, worked at Smead Manufacturing in Hastings, Minn., for 25 years before becoming being laid off in March 2011. She found work at a solar panel firm in Prescott, but got laid off there, too.
About two weeks before the fall 2011 term started, Susan decided to enroll in CVTC, choosing the same program as her daughter.
“It was kind of awesome at first,” Ashley said. “She was a good study buddy.”
Added Susan: “We’re good support for one another. We have a pretty good relationship.”
Ashley was particularly helpful bringing her mother up to speed on the use of today’s essential educational tool — the computer.
For a while Susan wasn’t sure if she would make it.
“It’s a big adjustment to go from factory work your whole life to school,” Susan said. “But Ashley told me to give it two or three weeks. I started feeling pretty comfortable.”
Ashley had challenges of her own, continuing to work full time while going to school.
There hasn’t been much rivalry over bragging rights to the best grades in the Colbeth household, but now the real work of finding post-college employment begins.
“I’m excited, but nervous about graduation,” Susan said. “But I really am optimistic that I’m going to find a job.”
Ashley has signed on with an employment service in Minneapolis.
“Hudson Hospital is putting a big addition on, so I am hoping to get in there,” said Susan.
“No, that’s mine,” Ashley replied with a smile.
As with any graduation, there were plenty of thanks, congratulations and best wishes expressed both during and after last Thursday’s CVTC ceremony.
Student speaker Paul Copeland of the Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement program thanked instructors, a number of them by name, for their selfless dedication.
“We are brothers and sisters raised in an education environment by those who have given their time to see that we are successful, that we are ready, and that we are the best,” Copeland said. “We have been given a proud torch to carry, that we can continue to keep lit with our skills earned here.
Faculty speaker Kristina Novek, a math and science instructor, praised the graduates for taking risks. She challenged them to continue to do so.
“Memorize how you feel at this moment,” Novek said. “Remember the pride and sense of accomplishment that graduation gave you. Strive for this feeling in all aspects of your life. To do this, you will have to take more risks,”
The Chippewa Valley Technical College system has campuses located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls.
CVTC serves an 11-county area in west-central Wisconsin and is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).
From chippewa.com: “Diesel Technician students land jobs before graduation” – EAU CLAIRE — Jason Koger of Elk Mound didn’t have any problem finding a job, and right in his home town, after graduating from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) on Friday, May 10. In fact, he was working at the Lawrence Transportation Services facility in Chippewa Falls while still completing the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Technician program at CVTC.
His fellow graduate, Josh Gagner of Chetek, also landed a job well before graduation, at the Lawrence facility in Barron.
Koger’s and Gagner’s experience is typical of students in the program. A shortage of diesel mechanics in the area has companies recruiting CVTC students well before they earn their technical diplomas.
“I was always interested in diesel engines,” said Koger. “I liked the smoke, but I learned that’s not the power.”
“I wanted to drive (trucks) at first,” said Gagner. “But when (CVTC instructors) talked to me about fixing them instead of driving them, I was sold.”
Gagner had been working relocating utility lines, but decided to look for a job with a little less stress. He loves diesel mechanic work and sees himself working in the field his entire life. There’s plenty of opportunity.
“I had two job offers and I only applied for two jobs,” Gagner said.
“I didn’t have any problem getting into Lawrence,” Koger said.
Most CVTC graduates are not as heavily recruited as the Diesel/Heavy Equipment Technician students, but statistics show 92 percent of them will be employed or continuing their education in the coming months.
CVTC honored 626 graduates in 47 different programs Friday night, with 375 graduates receiving associate degrees and 251 receiving technical diplomas. On Thursday night, CVTC honored 67 graduates at its River Falls campus, including 60 receiving associate degrees and seven receiving technical diplomas.
The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates are Nursing, with 60 graduates, Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement with 54 graduates, and Business Management with 53.
Among the graduates was Randi Johnson of Eau Claire, in the Dental Hygienist program, who was chosen as the student speaker. She urged the graduates to get out of their comfort zones.
“Being willing to step out of our comfort zones led us here,” she said. “Now that we’ve gotten to this point in life, we should push ourselves to keep improving. We will feel uncomfortable in the future, whether it’s in an interview for our dream job or buying our first house. But the moments where we feel unsure usually turn out to be the ones that change our lives and help define who we are.”
Faculty speaker Steve Chronis, from the Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement program, urged graduates to take advantage of opportunities.
“Life is all about deciding to answer the door when opportunity knocks and what you decide to do with the opportunity,” Chronis said. “My hope for each and every one of you is that the education you received at CVTC has opened a door of opportunity for promise and discovery that will last a lifetime.”
Featured speaker Paul Gabriel, executive director of the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association, put a new twist on the notion of wishing graduates “good luck.”
“For years, I’ve heard graduates refer to themselves as ‘lucky’ to have made it here,” he said. “But, what’s luck really got to do with it? … If you feel fortunate to be here, it’s not luck at all. It’s the success that you have created for yourself.”
Gabriel told the graduates to make their own fortune. “You make it by realizing your potential, by living and thriving and being happy.”
May 15, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Dreams come true for local CVTC grads” – Eau Claire — Friday night was a dream come true for Lori Hruza of Chippewa Falls and Devyne Gass of Cornell. Their paths were longer and a bit more winding than many of their fellow Chippewa Valley Technical College graduates, but they all came to the same place together: walking across the stage to receive their diplomas.
Hruza, 42, and Gass, 45, received associate degrees in nursing. They are now well prepared to pass their exams and become registered nurses, opening up greater career opportunities than they have experienced before in their lives.
“Dreams do come true,” said Hruza. “I always wanted to do nursing, and after my third child I decided to go back to school.“
Hruza has been many places in her adult life, as her husband pursued a military career. She worked in child care and taught preschool, at one point in Hawaii. But she always dreamt of becoming a nurse.
“It’s interesting learning about the human body, and I always enjoyed helping people,” she said. It became easier to pursue her dream after her children were older, and she chose CVTC’s nursing program.
Now, ready to enter the nursing profession and after seven years living in Chippewa Falls, she’s excited about a new adventure. “We’re moving to Hawaii!” she said.
Gass has already been working as a licensed practical nurse at a nursing home in Ladysmith. She attended Northcentral Technical College in Wausau some years ago for that training. She’s been wanting to advance her career.
“I wanted to get into a school that’s closer,” she said. “But it took a while to get back into the program.“
Now she’s on the verge of being an RN. It won’t mean an immediate change of scenery for her, but Gass knows it will open up many more employment possibilities.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.
That feeling was shared by hundreds of people at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena, which hosts the CVTC graduation each fall and spring.
CVTC honored 626 graduates in 47 different programs Friday night, with 375 graduates receiving associate degrees and 251 receiving technical diplomas. On Thursday night, CVTC honored 67 graduates at its River Falls campus, including 60 receiving associate degrees and seven receiving technical diplomas.
The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates were nursing, with 60 graduates, criminal justice/law enforcement with 54 graduates, and business management with 53.
Among the graduates was Randi Johnson of Eau Claire, in the dental hygienist program, who was chosen as the student speaker. She urged the graduates to get out of their comfort zones.
“Being willing to step out of our comfort zones led us here,” she said. “Now that we’ve gotten to this point in life, we should push ourselves to keep improving. We will feel uncomfortable in the future, whether it’s in an interview for our dream job or buying our first house. But the moments where we feel unsure usually turn out to be the ones that change our lives and help define who we are.“
Featured speaker Paul Gabriel, executive director of the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association, put a new twist on the notion of wishing graduates “good luck.“
“For years, I’ve heard graduates refer to themselves as ’lucky’ to have made it here,” he said. “But, what’s luck really got to do with it? … If you feel fortunate to be here, it’s not luck at all. It’s the success that you have created for yourself.“
From leadertelegram.com: “New CVTC dental hygienist grad focuses now on charity work” – Randi Johnson’s luggage and passport will be ready at home while she crosses the stage at Friday evening’s Chippewa Valley Technical College commencement ceremony.
Just hours after getting her associate degree, the 22-year-old Eau Claire woman and others from CVTC will be on a plane to Mexico to use their skills as dental hygienists to help children at an orphanage in Puebla, near Mexico City.
She’s hoping this is just her first trip of many to provide charitable dental care.
“My main thing is, I wanted to do mission work,” said the 2009 Eau Claire Memorial High School graduate.
The mission trip will last from Saturday through Thursday of next week, during which she and five others from CVTC’s dental hygiene program will educate 75 children and teenagers in oral health and provide a standard cleaning.
Milwaukee dentists had been making the trip for years to do routine checkups. Megan Douglas, a 2011 CVTC graduate, suggested the idea of adding dental hygienists to give the children tips to keep their teeth healthy.
“What kids haven’t had is the prevention piece,” CVTC dental hygienist instructor Debbie Schumacher said.
Schumacher, Douglas, Johnson and three more CVTC students will be the first dental hygienists to make the journey.
After getting to know the children on Sunday, they will do 75 cleanings during the following three days.
“This isn’t vacation, and we know that,” Schumacher said. “Our mission is to provide care for all of the kids.”
They’ll bring donated dental supplies and money for toothbrushes along with them.
Johnson’s five years of middle and high school Spanish might come in handy, though she notes that the Mexican orphanage has English classes for the children. The CVTC team also has a cheat sheet of common dental terms translated into Spanish.
This is Johnson’s first foray into mission work, though she has raised money for charity, and her family sponsors a couple of children in India.
Johnson hopes to fit at least one mission trip in per year during her career as a dental hygienist. She’s had an interest in oral hygiene since she’d enjoyed going to the dentist as a child.
“Once I was in high school, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
With only a dozen spots in each year of the CVTC dental hygiene program, Johnson got on the waiting list during her senior year at Memorial.
The program currently has a 120-name-long waiting list to get in, Schumacher noted, but it usually ends up taking three to four years for a student to get to the top of the list.
There used to be 18 spots for students each year, she said, but that was exceeding the CVTC area’s need for dental hygienists.
“At about 12, we’re seeing people are getting jobs,” Schumacher said.
After graduating this week, Johnson plans to continue her education through online classes to achieve a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.
From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC students learn house construction on the job” – CHIPPEWA FALLS — A group of Chippewa Valley Technical College students is getting hands-on experience building job skills for their futures while helping prospective home buyers at the same time.
For the past three years CVTC has partnered with the Chippewa County Housing Authority to provide homes for low- to moderate-income residents. CVTC students help build the homes, which are sold to people who may not otherwise be able to afford them.
The homes will be listed for sale at $165,000 apiece, said Ruth Rosenow, Chippewa County Housing Authority director. Purchasers of the homes built by CVTC students must earn at least $22,600 annually but cannot make more than $36,600, she said.
“This program helps CVTC students and, at the same time, the people buying these homes,” Rosenow said.
On Tuesday Matt Burke, a 20-year-old CVTC student from Chippewa Falls, worked on a deck of one of two homes he and 13 college students have built in Chippewa Falls along Stump Lake Road on the city’s east side.
Burke had never worked in construction before signing up for the class. He’s pleased with the finished product and the skills he has learned.
“It’s nice to see what you can accomplish,” Burke said. “I just like working outside. You’re in different places, and you are always doing something different.”
Joe Dahmer, 19, a CVTC student from Menomonie who has helped construct the homes, said he has worked construction jobs with his father since he was 13. He has even traveled to Mexico to build homes as part of church mission trips.
“I really enjoy construction,” Dahmer said. “I decided to go into the program because it’s hands-on, and you can’t do that anywhere else.”
Brian Barth has taught the CVTC residential construction program for the past nine years. He said his students are quick learners who enjoy their work.
“They get the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day,” he said of students building homes.
Students are putting their hands-on construction experience to good use. Of his 14 current students, 11 have construction jobs lined up for after they graduate, Barth said.
“The construction industry, there is going to be an extreme shortage of workers in the next few years,” he said, noting the sector is recovering after several slow years.
Rosenow said her organization purchased eight lots in a neighborhood on the east side of Chippewa Falls to be used as sites for homes built by CVTC students. The two 1,300-square-foot homes built this year have identical floor plans.
The housing authority financed the $235,000 project, with home sale proceeds to go toward the housing authority’s revolving loan fund. Neither of the two homes has been purchased yet, but they would be ready for someone to purchase by Friday, Rosenow said.
May 6, 2013
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Outlook bright for trucking industry careers” – The improving economy means manufacturers are busy and need to get their products out to customers.
That means shipping goods out by truck, which translates to steady demand for both regional delivery as well as cross-country drivers. The state projects between 2,000 and 3,000 positions will be available annually in Wisconsin through 2020.
“The outlook suggests that (trucking companies) are looking aggressively to fill the needs they have,” said Jeff Sachse, a labor market analyst for the state Department of Workforce Development.
He said for the next several years, truck driving will be among the fastest growing job sectors in the state.
Numbers from Fox Valley Technical College’s truck driving program in Grand Chute suggests graduates have little trouble finding work. In 2012, about 94 percent of FVTC’s 173 trucking program graduates found a job within six months of graduation.
Rob Behnke, chair of FVTC’s truck driving program, said the college annually graduates between 200 and 215 drivers, who will have a commercial driver’s license after completing the program, which can take up to 18 weeks. FVTC, Waukesha County Technical College and Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire are the only three schools in the Wisconsin Technical College System that offer a truck driving program.
Today’s long-haul truck drivers on average are in their mid-50s to early 60s, Behnke said. Retirements during the next five years means demand for drivers only will increase.
“Opportunity is out there, especially for the entry-level driver,” he said.
Sachse said truck drivers only are one facet of a complex national logistics network. Demand also exists for warehousing and inventory specialists who can track cargo and ensure it arrives at its destination.
“Logistics in general is an area of strong demand because of the variety of jobs in that sector,” he said.
Dispatchers and people skilled in supply chain management are among the assorted jobs showing steady long-term growth, Sachse said.
Because Wisconsin is not a main distribution hub, but is home to many goods producers, those companies depend on the trucking industry to ship products, he said.
This has benefited Ashwaubenon-based Schneider National, one of the nation’s largest trucking companies.
“Manufacturing growth has a two to one impact on the trucking industry,” said Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruiting at Schneider. “When the country is going through a manufacturing recovery, it means demand increases for raw materials and getting those finished products from the plants to distribution centers.”
Hinz said drivers in general should have little trouble finding work today. However, finding people to consider jobs in the industry can prove challenging.
The National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools reported people seeking training has dropped. The association said its members in 2005 were training about 18,000 students annually but by 2012 that number fell 22 percent to 14,000.
Behnke, who is president of the association, which represents about 130 schools nationally, said some prospective students find the working hours and the possibility of being away from home for extended periods a deterrent.
Hinz said Schneider partners with FVTC to recruit and train drivers. It also has relations with the military who works with service men and women seeking employment after completing a tour.
“We have to take multiple angles to find drivers but we want to make sure we’re out there telling people trucking is a viable career option,” Hinz said.
The Department of Labor said the average national annual salary for a truck driver in 2011 was $54,154. In Wisconsin, the average annual wage was $41,276.
Behnke said FVTC trucking program graduates, who get entry-level work, may earn close to $40,000 annually. Hinz said entry-level drivers at Schneider may earn between $39,000 and $42,000 annually.
Many students in FVTC’s truck driving program are people seeking second careers, those in their early to mid-40s. Behnke said.
Hinz said someone new to the industry but with a good work history is an attractive employee to Schneider.
“We do see a lot of second career folks but these people do bring other skills like problem solving and have been in many situations that can help them,” Hinz said.
May 6, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Collaboration hatches new, affordable homes” – Yellow vinyl coats the one-story home that sits empty on a corner lot in the flats in Chippewa Falls.
The three-bedroom house is on the market through Woods and Water Realty, but not every interested buyer will qualify.
This newly-constructed home and its neighboring sister home were built as a collaborative effort between the Chippewa County Housing Authority and Chippewa Valley Technical College to provide new homes to low- and moderate-income families.
The partnership began in 2011, when a group of students at CVTC tore down and rebuilt a larger home on West Hill.
The next year, the housing authority used funds from the buyer to finance the building of two smaller homes.
Ruth Rosenow, executive director of the CCHA, said the program was set up for the new homeowners to inherit a mortgage through the housing authority. But now the CCHA has devised a new system to increase productivity.
“Instead of us being the long-term financer, they have to go to the bank to get a loan and we accumulate a lump sum,” Rosenow said, adding that the money earned can be turned over quickly to fund the construction of additional homes.
Are you eligible?
The home on Stump Lake Road is listed for $165,000, but income restrictions will weed out prospective buyers.
The restrictions vary based on the number of household members, but for a four-person family, the recommended minimum income limit is $32,250 and the maximum, non-negotiable income limit is $52,250.
Rosenow said generally the CCHA looks for low- or moderate-income people with good credit and good work history.
“The first family able to put together a loan, we accept their offer,” she said.
The CCHA is able to defer up to $50,000 at 1-percent interest, similar to a second mortgage. A family could be eligible as long as it could secure $115,000 from the lender.
“We would get $115,000 right up front and use that for next year’s projects,” Rosenow said. “It helps the family get over that hump.”
She said this is particularly helpful for families who generally wouldn’t be able to afford new construction.
“It’s the best kind of home for them because they don’t have a lot of reserve money,” Rosenow said, adding that older homes tend to eat up savings and are harder for the family to keep up.
“By the time these homes need maintenance, they will have had time to accumulate money for that.”
Brian Barth is an instructor for CVTC’s residential construction program. He said 14 students are currently enrolled in his class to obtain a technical diploma for residential construction.
Barth said the students are in class approximately 35 hours a week, spending about half of that time on the site.
“CVTC teamed up to build smaller-scale houses that meet the competencies that students are trying to achieve,” Barth said.
The students will finish the home this week in time for the May 10 open house.
Many students come into the one-year program with little experience, Barth said, though some have learned the ropes through classes at a university or through hands-on work with a contractor or even their parents.
“We treat it as though they know nothing and bring them up to speed,” Barth said.
Private contractors complete excavation and concrete, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and drywall services after being awarded bids. Barth’s students handle the carpentry work.
“The kids’ labor really goes towards the community,” Rosenow said. “We’re very excited about it.“
“It’s a good partnership,” Barth said.
From piercecountyherald.com: “Prescott High School students laud dual credit to fight college costs” – Prescott High School Junior Courtney Krenig has a dream of enrolling in medical school and becoming a doctor specializing in sports and athletics-related health. Krenig plans to start out locally, though, at UW-River Falls.
Actually, she has already started on her college coursework with a class in Medical Terminology at Prescott High School. Through the class, she is earning not only credits toward her high school graduation, but credits at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), which are transferrable to a number of universities, including UWRF. Already having those credits will save her hundreds of dollars in tuition and fees at college.
The program is called “dual credit,” and its use has been growing rapidly in school districts throughout CVTC’s 11-county area, and in other technical college districts throughout the state.
At a time when college costs and resulting student debt are rising, families are looking for ways to cut costs and the time spent in college. Dual credit is designed to do both and is ideal for a student like Krenig, who found she was getting an extra benefit from a class she planned to take anyway.
“I didn’t know it was dual credit until I got here, but I’m happy I will get the credits. I took it to save time, so I didn’t have to take it in college. Now they will be like elective credits for me in college,” she said.
With dual credit, 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.”
April 23, 2013
From superiortelegram.com: “Tours increase tech college program awareness” – Registration is open for participation in a statewide collaborative that allows K-12 educators to earn graduate credits for increasing their awareness of Wisconsin Technical College System programs and services during the week of June 17-21.
Teachers, counselors and administrators participating in the week-long tours visit a different technical college each day for hands-on learning about the programs and services available to students and career options available to graduates. Tour participants complete an action plan for disseminating what they’ve learned, and earn three graduate credits from Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wis.
“We are pleased to participate with the Tours of Excellence program,” said WITC President Bob Meyer. “There are some incredible career opportunities available through WITC and across the Wisconsin Technical College System that are also extremely affordable.”
Tours are planned regionally to allow for broad participation in the north, central and southern part of the state. The north section includes visits to WITC-Ashland, Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Northcentral Technical College in Wausau Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids and Nicolet Area Technical College in Rhinelander. Space is limited to 30 individuals per section.
“This event is a great way to network with K-12 educators from throughout the state,” said Dan Miller.
For information or online registration, go to http://www.fvtc.edu/wtcstour.
April 16, 2013
From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC speed networking session builds confidence” — In spring 2008, Chippewa Valley Technical College student Casey Ricci was comfortable with what he had learned in the Business Management program, but he also knew what made him uncomfortable.
“He told us the students learned a lot in the Planning Your Business Management Career class, and it was a great class, but they didn’t know much about how to talk to people they didn’t know,” business management instructor Grace Rich recalls.
With graduation looming for these students, it was a skill they’d have to learn fast in whatever employment setting they found.
This year’s members of that class are looking forward to next month’s graduation a little better prepared, thanks to Ricci’s observation.
Rich, with fellow instructor and now Associate Dean of Business Jeff Pepper, responded by starting a networking segment to the class. It begins with a speed networking exercise with volunteers from area businesses and organizations. That session took place April 2.
“Our intent is to teach the students social business networking skills in a safe setting,” Rich says. “Then we take them to the (Eau Claire Area) Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours to practice in a real setting.”
That second session took place Monday.
For the practice session, the instructors invite business people matching the number of students in the class. The 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 volunteers as they can in the allotted time.
Rich says when she first tells the students about the exercise, they are less than enthused.
“Their reaction is like, ‘OK, how can I get out of this?’ They don’t want to talk with people they don’t know,” Rich says. “But after the first round, it’s hard to get them to move on.”
Finding out they can present themselves well in such conversations builds confidence. Heading into the exercise, students had varying ideas of what they might get out of the experience.
“I hope I get insights into communication, and how to get a job, mostly. I’m going to be looking for a job when I get out of school. This is my last semester,” said Tim Baier of Eau Galle.
Michael Anderl of Chippewa Falls wanted to hear what the business representatives had to say.
“I want to learn how some people fell into the careers they have, how they got their start,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like this.”
Others had less of a sense of urgency about learning how to find a job. Anne Wold of Menomonie and Lance Genrich of Bloomer are each heading to UW-Stout to further their education next fall.
“I hope to meet some people and help decide what I want to do after graduating,” Wold said.
The event succeeded in changing some attitudes. Mike Stearns went into it thinking it had little to offer him.
“I would say my opinion changed. I feel this event was the best event of the semester so far,” he said. “I only wish it could have been longer so I would have met with everyone and not just a few.
Event participant Matt Soppeland agreed.
“At first I was really nervous about meeting a bunch of random people, but by the time I was done meeting with the first person, I found I was talking more than the time allowed,” he said.
Wold said the networking event taught that networking isn’t a one-time experience.
“They offered very valuable networking advice and taught us how to always be networking no matter where we are or what position we are working in,” Wold said.
April 15, 2013
From weau.com: “Group urges for change as student loan debt rises” – Growing student loan debt is having a ripple effect on the nation’s economy. That was the message of a research study delivered by democrats at Chippewa Valley Technical College Friday.
Jody McCoy said she is in her second year at CVTC, and she plans to transfer to U.W. Eau Claire next year to get a degree in cultural anthropology. But paying for it won’t be cheap.
“It’s frightening situation because I’ve got great credit and this will be the one thing that will make me owe a lot of money back to be paying back for a lot of years,” McCoy said.
“Long term, say I’m going another four years there, I’m estimating it to be around 75,000 (dollars).”
But with national student loan debt surpassing one trillion dollars, she’s not alone.
The Institute for One Wisconsin, led by democrats, presented a study Friday at CVTC saying the average student loan debt lasts for nearly 19 years and that the average national debt is more than $24,000 dollars per student. They said less money to education has increased tuition.
“The federal governments and state governments have decreased the amount of money that they’re contributing in their budgets to public education,” Kristen Dexter, an Institute for One Wisconsin board member said.
But Republicans disagreed.
“The answer is not more money here, it’s to identify why is it that we’ve spent more on education but have a worse result,” Eau Claire County Republican Party Chair Brian Westrate.
“We’re allowing people to graduate with a degree that doesn’t qualify them to do anything the market place wants. And it’s costing them $50,000 to $100,000 to do it,” Westrate said.
“Being able to find a job in the field you’re going for, you’re concerned if you’re going to be able to do that. Or are you going to have to do something completely different?” he said.
Both Westrate and Dexter agreed that students need to be educated on what jobs are out there, and how much they’ll be paid, before picking a profession.
April 9, 2013
From chippewa.com: “GED changes post obstacle to degree” – Samantha Morrow spends two days a week at the Learning Center at the Chippewa Valley Technical College in Chippewa Falls. She is preparing for her fifth and final exam to obtain her GED, or General Education Degree. After that, she will enroll at CVTC for a degree in law enforcement, search and rescue.
Morrow, 25, plans to finish her final test in math next month. But other GED students who haven’t completed all of their testing by December will have to start over.
That’s because the GED Testing Service is updating the requirements for the GED test, which is expected to further engage critical thinking skills with more short-answer questions. In addition, the tests will be online only.
Since 2002, GED seekers have been required to take a series of five tests in reading, writing, math, science and social studies, with the option to take the exams on the computer.
They are given an indefinite period of time to complete the five exams and generally have to wait 90 days before retaking the exam if they fail.
Of the 102 students at the learning center in Chippewa Falls, 52 of them are working towards their GED.
Amanda Jiskra, CVTC Adult Education Services Instructor, said the majority of those students have completed two or three exams so far. They have until December to complete all of their exams before they are no longer accepted.
“A lot of people are scrambling to get (the tests) done,” Jiskra said.
“We encourage them to finish if they’ve started so their work won’t go to waste,” she said.
The changes will be implemented Jan. 2, 2014.
Jiskra said the motivation behind changing the testing format was to better reflect a high school diploma. These changes will include more algebra, additional critical thinking questions and more essays. The reading and writing portions will also be combined into one test.
“It’s a whole new skill set that the students are going to need to pass this test, which is going to be difficult for older students that are coming back that don’t have the computer background,” Jiskra said.
“Traditionally, GED has been looked upon as not so good as a high school diploma, so it’s a matter of trying to get those numbers the same,” she said.
Jiskra said it’s important for students to get in to the learning center and either finish their tests or begin working on the computer to build up their skills.
“We try to make it a very open environment and reassure them that nobody is judging,” she said. “Our goal is to make students comfortable.”
Although Morrow will likely have obtained her GED by December, she supports the new changes.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” she said. “It’s mind-boggling how we’re going from books to now straight to the Internet with everything.”
Jiskra said anyone looking to obtain their GED can call the CVTC Chippewa Falls Learning Center to schedule an appointment.
The students will be tested to determine their grade levels, and will then be assigned individual curriculums that are based on those grades.
Jiskra said that although some students might be frustrated by the prospect of using the computer for testing, those skills are needed.
“It’s a measure of critical thinking,” she said. “It isn’t something that’s just isolated; you are going to need this skills. It’s not something specific that we want you to do just for this test; it’s going to be important in your life skills.”
Morrow said said as soon as she completes her GED, she will head back to the learning center for additional training.
“Besides going into my schooling, I’m still going to be coming back here to learn how to run a computer,” she said.
But the Learning Center isn’t just a place for those preparing to take their GEDs. Jiskra said about 50 students are working on improving their computer skills and their math-related work skills. Some students use the center to prepare for the Compass exam, which is required for entry into CVTC.
Jiskra said the cost of each test will likely increase from $15 to $24, but that is the only cost to students. The orientation, training and preparation is free.
April 4, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Girl Scouts honor CVTC instructor Judi Anibas” – EAU CLAIRE – When Judi Anibas overheard an inappropriate comment during one of the classes she teaches at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC) Law Enforcement Academy, she thought it was time for a quick real-world exercise.
The 25-year veteran of the Eau Claire Police Department had all of the students privately write down the names of four women who they loved and respected and were important in their lives. Then she asked the (mostly male) class if they would ever make such a comment to or about one of those women.
“There was dead silence,” Anibas says. She went on to insist that no such comments would be heard again in that class, and she didn’t need to know who made it. The students, like the law enforcement officers they aspire to become, are to be held to the highest standards of integrity, and sensitivity to the members of the public they serve.
Upholding standards in such a way is one of the reasons the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes honored Anibas at its annual Women of Courage, Confidence and Character banquet Monday evening, April 1. The award honors area women who demonstrate a commitment to serving their communities and embody the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character.
Anyone who knows Judi Anibas will agree that she has those qualities, and a look at her career shows her commitment to serving the community.
Originally from Milwaukee, the UW-Platteville criminal justice program graduate took the first law enforcement job offered to her, with the city of Eau Claire. She was put on a walking beat in the Water Street area, an area with taverns frequented by the local college crowd.
“You see more because you’re on foot,” she recalls. There were enough problems to deal with, including motorcycle gangs and drugs, but she also got to know the local residents and business owners and learned to listen to their concerns.
“Doing that really assisted me later when I had an inside job in crime prevention,” Anibas says.
In the following years, Anibas took on just about every duty that comes the way of a law enforcement officer. She was a patrol officer for nine years, spent four years as a detective and then went back to patrol. She learned to deal with child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence cases and so much more, both as an officer responding to calls and as a detective investigating them.
That role of being the one catching the bad guys held much satisfaction for her, but so did the other duties she took on over the years. She became a hostage negotiator, firearms instructor, evidence technician, community policing specialist and eventually law enforcement instructor.
Anibas says she particularly liked working with community organizations and neighborhood watch groups. She came to appreciate the value of listening, and learned that what people often wanted from their police force was different from what police themselves thought of their duties.
“Wherever I worked I enjoyed myself,” she says. “But it was great to meet people who really enjoyed their community and had respect for the police.
“The cool thing is I can use all of that today when I teach community policing,” she added.
Anibas joined CVTC in 1992 as an instructor and became full time in 2006. She became Dean of the Law Enforcement and other areas, is still working as an instructor in the program, and as a safety instructor for the Business and Industry team.
She has as much enthusiasm for teaching as she does for law enforcement. “It’s inspirational, knowing that with the experience I’ve had I can give back to students.”
Anibas has been generous with her time outside of work as well. Anibas served as president of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Association of Women Police, Eau Claire Police Benevolent Association, Eau Claire Police Local 9, and Eau Claire Police Supervisors Local 39. She has been involved with Indianhead Special Olympics, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and is the current president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin board of directors.
March 22, 2013
From riverfallsjournal.com: “New administrator offers outlook for CVTC’s future” – Since starting at Chippewa Valley Technical College in January, Campus Administrator/Dean Beth Hein has been busy mapping the future.
According to Hein, CVTC is looking to add or tweak existing programs, but is just at the “initial blush of research.”
CVTC staff have looked at job prospect statistics as well as which colleges offer which degree programs.
Hein, who lives in the Menomonie area, said the next step is to talk to area businesses to see what they need in their workforce.
This will be done through focus groups and other research-gathering techniques, with the goal being to find out if needs match the research. Health care, manufacturing, and general business are areas that Hein mentioned.
Hein says the biggest thing the future holds for CVTC is “helping businesses find the qualified employees they need.”
She sees the River Falls campus continuing with a broad spectrum of degree programs that “mirror the community.”
CVTC plans to “gear programming toward jobs of the community,” she said.
Hein, who worked at the CVTC Eau Claire campus previously, says that “River Falls’ needs are different that Eau Claire’s.”
She said that there are different jobs and requirements in each area. The benefit of the technical college is that it can be tailored to regional needs, said Hein.
Hein, who attended CVTC as well as UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire, would like to see CVTC “open the pathways” to students, by continuing partnerships with the UW systems, for transfers and partnering with the high school for dual credit classes.
Hein sees the technical college as a great place for students to get the help they need to get them to the place they want to be.
When asked what the typical student is like at CVTC, Hein said that it has a diverse student population — from 18-19 year olds, to dislocated older workers who were either laid off or injured, to college graduates looking to change careers or not finding jobs in their degree area to those seeking continuing education.
Hein, the mother of two, says that the students “…are as diverse as the community and all come with different backgrounds and stories.”
Besides increasing the educational opportunities offered, CVTC will also be adding on to the campus. Though Hein did say that the building addition will go “hand-in-hand” with the new programs that are added, no concrete plans are set.
Even with the increase in programs and the expanded square footage, Hein would like to see the campus retain its “small campus feel.”
Hein, who worked in human resources for 10 years at both large and small businesses, went on to say that she would like to make CVTC a “more comprehensive campus.”
When asked if the economy has made a technical college a good option for students, Hein said that the technical college focuses on “living wage jobs.”
She also said that CVTC has high placement rates — 92% of graduates are employed, with 89% employed in a related field.
Hein said she is “excited to get involved in the community,” and has had a positive overall impression of River Falls. She likes the small town atmosphere — but more importantly she likes that it is “…in close proximity to more resources. You get the best of both worlds.”
From leadertelegram.com: “L.E. Phillips donation funds $1.5M to $2M CVTC fire training center” – A fire and paramedic training center projected to cost between $1.5 and $2 million is expected to be built this year at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s West Campus in Eau Claire and completed by September, thanks to donations from the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation and the technical college’s foundation.
On Friday, CVTC officials announced plans for the state-of-the-art center, which will be used not only to teach new firefighters, but also for training by volunteer firefighting organizations across the region.
CVTC President Bruce Barker declined to release the amount of the donations but said they will pay for a majority of the project.
“This will improve the skills, not just for our future firefighters, but it allows our current firefighters to hone their skills,” he said.
Barker said the center will be built at a yet-to-be determined site on 180 available acres on the West Campus, east of Mill Run Golf Course, just off Highway 312/U.S.12. It will fill a much-needed niche, he said.
“We’ve been talking about this type of facility for quite some time,” Barker said. “Certainly, the need has been identified in the past. It’s just in the past couple of months that funding has become available.”
Part of the project will comprise a “burn room,” a 50-by-50-foot site designed to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees. The site also will include an adjacent observation room and staging areas.
In addition, the building will include space for storing emergency service vehicles. Storing equipment such as a ladder truck CVTC bought last year will extend its life, Barker said.
“We’re still developing the floor plan,” he said. “You’d have rooms that you can watch, because you can have fires reaching 2,000 degrees. Some of those (fires) you want to do in a closed environment, especially if you’re talking flammable liquids and things like that. You want to keep your variables down.”
CVTC fire services instructor Marcy Bruflat praised the planned center.
“A facility of this type has been a dream of the people who work in the emergency services fields for quite some time,” Bruflat said. “This facility will truly make a difference in the preparations of the professionals who want to be as ready as they can be when members of the public call on them in times of emergency.”
Lewis E. Phillips, the founder of the Phillips Family Foundation, was a CVTC board member for 23 years.
“My grandfather would have been so pleased to know that his foundation has helped make the planned facility a reality,” said Maryjo Cohen, the foundation’s president, and chairwoman and CEO of National Presto Industries.
From weau.com: “CVTC’s new Fire and Paramedic Training Center will benefit the community” – All of our area Fire and Police Departments along with volunteer Firefighters in smaller towns will soon have access to a brand new training facility.
It’s part of a new Fire and Paramedic Training Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College.
CVTC calls the new center a “state of the art” facility. When it’s finished, it’ll include a live burn area; a preparation and observation area; storage for emergency service vehicles; and a physical fitness training area for the fire, paramedic and law enforcement students.
“We really emphasize the applied learning, the hands-on learning. We want to replicate real life situations as much as possible so when they do happen students and the existing workers will have that experience and more confidence,” said the President of CVTC Bruce Barker.
“The hands-on training is very, very important. It allows us to have that firefighter to go from a new firefighter to a productive firefighter a lot quicker,” said Deputy Chief of the Eau Claire Fire Rescue, Scott Burkart.
Burkart said a fair share of new firefighters that are hired, have attended CVTC. And the more experience they have right away, the more beneficial it is to the community the department serves.
“It’s less ‘on the job’ type of training that we have to do. That is a cost savings to us also,” said Burkart.
The Eau Claire Fire Department also has a mutual aid agreement with a lot of surrounding fire departments.
Burnkart said knowing the training came from one institution, will help everyone to mesh much better, and react quicker.
“Everyone will benefit from it, not only the firefighters, but also the communities too, because it’s a cost effective way to get that experience and training that we can’t receive any other place,” said Burkart.
“Our police and fire deal with life-threatening situation all the time, so providing them better training; they will be more aped to have confidence to perform better in those situations. It may save your life or my life someday,” said Barker.
The CVTC foundation and L.E. Philips Family Foundation came up with the money for the facility. The construction is expected to start toward the end of May and be ready for the students this Fall.
March 8, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Chi-Hi students turn scrap metal into school mascot” –
Dan Hietpas can tell his welding students to build a trailer hitch and it easily gets done. They eye the details, draw a design and build to the specs.
Ask them to build a metal sculpture of a cardinal out of random material, and that takes a bit more effort.
“This is very abstract,” Hietpas said. “They had to dig around a little bit; it takes that creative art side of these kids to pull something together from garbage.”
About 10 students in Hietpas’ advanced welding class at Chi-Hi are competing in the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s “Junk Yard Wars.”
Area schools participating in the competition are required to build replicas of their school’s mascot out of scrap metal. The students will then present their projects to a panel of judges at CVTC.
“It’s a neat way for them to keep in contact with CVTC,” Hietpas said. “It’s a real nice tie-in to Chippewa Valley Tech.”
Sophomore Steven Schmidt, 16, said the most difficult part was fitting the satellite, which functions as the breast and abdomen of the cardinal.
He said the project calls for more spot welding, since students are handling smaller pieces, which can pose additional challenges.
“You can’t just go to town on it,” Schmidt said.
The cardinal’s feet are made from old rotors, and the beak, wings and rest of the frame are built from old scrap metal left over from projects that didn’t turn out.
Hietpas said 80 percent of the resources used to build the cardinal are required to be recyclable.
The class scurried to finish the project Wednesday, which Schmidt said might not be painted.
“I don’t think we’re going to win,” he said. “We started late.”
Thorp’s class is also building a cardinal.
“We’ll see who has the best cardinal out of the two,” Schmidt said.
The first-place group will be awarded a mini-welder, which Hietpas estimated at $1,000. The cardinal will probably be displayed in the welding classroom after the competition. The project serves as a mid-term for students.
Advanced welding classes have participated in the Junk Yard Wars in previous years, but this is Hietpas’ first year teaching at Chi-Hi.
“These kids are sharp; they’re good welders,” he said. “I had to take a lot of classes to catch up to them.”
After the project, the class will begin work on a flip-flop chicken grill that they will donate as a door prize for STEM night, which teaches students about careers available in science, math and technology fields.
February 27, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Students take CVTC stories to Madison” — When Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Dental Hygienist program students Randi Johnson and Jordyn Becker talked to state legislators in Madison Tuesday, it wasn’t because they had concerns about lawmakers’ brushing habits. They wanted the people who hold the state purse strings to know what a technical education is doing for them, and how it has them reaching out to the community.
“We have to do 100 hours of community service before we can graduate,” said Johnson, of Eau Claire. Outside-the-classroom activities may include providing sealants and fluoride treatments for children. “We do that by going right into the elementary schools.”
The students joined others from the Wisconsin Technical College System’s 16 colleges in Madison for a legislative day sponsored by the Wisconsin Association for Career and Technical Education. Students set up displays about their schools and programs in the Capitol Rotunda, while others personally visited legislators’ offices to lobby on technical education issues.
Johnson and Becker combined messages about their community outreach efforts with information on specific issues. Becker said they would like to see Wisconsin adopt a program Minnesota has pioneered in which a certified advanced dental hygiene practitioner could provide services without the direct supervision of a dentist.
“We’d like to see that so we can keep our jobs here,” said Becker.
“We’ve had some supporters, but with others it’s tough,” said Johnson. “The dentists are opposed to it.”
Dylan Warzynski of Almond and Josh Frederickson of Owen represented CVTC’s Agriscience Technician program in Madison, and specifically talked about the biodiesel program.
“We tell them what we do at CVTC to promote the growth of the agriculture industry and to promote the use of biodiesel fuels,” said Warzynski.
He added that they were prepared to speak in favor of renewal of a program that offered $1 in tax credits for every gallon of biodiesel fuel blended with regular diesel. That program was recently renewed, Warsynski said.
“We wanted to showcase programs that really showed what CVTC does,” said Alisa Hoepner Schley, student life specialist at CVTC, who helped select the programs for presentation. “Biodiesel is really cutting edge and we wanted to show what students are doing here at CVTC, making biodiesel fuel out of seeds in a mobile laboratory.”
Hoepner Schley said the Dental Hygienist program is a good example of CVTC’s partnerships in the community, with students working with local professional dentists and hygienists and spending time volunteering in the community.
“Our presentations were geared toward legislators. The goal of the program is to show what our students are doing in technical education,” said Hoepner Schley.
February 25, 2013
From leadertelegram.com: “Annual event offers opportunity to explore careers, learn technology” – The Chippewa Valley Technical College annual Manufacturing Show lives up to its name.
The March 7 event features the latest and greatest when it comes to technology, from the application of micro technology in regional products to the use of sound to test welding quality to the formation of industry-education partnerships to prepare new workers.
More than 20 manufacturing companies will have displays about their role in their industries and in the Chippewa Valley economy and will use the opportunity to recruit new workers as well.
The public will be able to learn about the careers available in manufacturing at the event.
Joining those companies will be representatives of CVTC’s manufacturing programs: electromechanical technology, industrial mechanic, machine tooling technics, and welding/welding fabrication, as well as Manufacturing, nanotechnology and industrial engineering programs.
Together CVTC and its private-sector partners will present the modern face of manufacturing, with its increasing use of the latest technology.
“This year’s show will have a strong focus on the skills gap – the fact that there are a lot of manufacturing jobs but a shortage of people with the skills to fill them,” said Mark Hendrickson, special projects coordinator in the manufacturing area for CVTC. “We’re inviting employers in so they can tell about what they need in modern manufacturing employees.”
The event also will emphasize technologies involved in manufacturing today.
“People don’t realize how much of modern manufacturing technology is being applied locally,” Hendrickson said.
To demonstrate, presentations will be held during the event, from 3 to 8 p.m. at CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center, 2320 Alpine Road, Eau Claire. Presentations will cover such subjects as the latest in metal-cutting technologies, the use of nano and micro technology to change properties of organic matter, and developments in types of metal surfaces.
R-Con, a Menomonie company, will demonstrate ultrasonic analysis of welds, using sound waves to look into the body of a metal weld. Realityworks, an Eau Claire company with a national reputation as a pioneer in simulation technology, will have a presentation on partnerships between industry and education. Participants will also be able to try their hand at welding on a simulator.
“The entire show will present a good overview of manufacturing careers in western Wisconsin,” said CVTC Dean of Industry, Agriculture and Energy Aliesha Crowe. “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.”
Another event highlight will be the debut of an excerpt from the next Edge Factor video. The Edge Factor Show features action-packed episodes that unlock the exciting world of manufacturing, inspiring a new generation to explore careers in the field.
“We will preview the introduction to the latest video,” said Hendrickson.
Back from last year’s manufacturing show will be competitions involving area high school teams. For the Junkyard Battle welding competition, teams will create welded sculptures of their school mascots. A school logo design competition will demonstrate school teams’ machine tool skills.
In addition, two poster contests will focus on engineering technology, particularly micro and nano technology.
This summer’s NASCAR-themed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) camp will be previewed at the manufacturing show, with a demonstration of the model cars camp participants will be working on during the June 17-21 event.
February 25, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Grant funds available for worker training” – Area businesses have the opportunity to upgrade the skills and productivity of their employees through training programs funded in part by the State of Wisconsin Workforce Advancement Training grants.
Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) is accepting requests through April 5 for consideration for such training programs, for training sessions to be held between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.
The training, available to for-profit businesses operating in Wisconsin, can include any combination of academic, occupational and employability topics or courses.
Grants anticipated to be available through this program are awarded to promote increased investment in the development of incumbent workers, improve Wisconsin business productivity and competitiveness, and augment the state’s economic base by expanding technical college training services to business and industry. The program also has the broader objective of supporting regional workforce and economic development efforts.
Since 2008, CVTC has been awarded over $2 million in Workforce Advancement Training grants to provide training for over 6,400 workers in over 50 different companies around west central Wisconsin.
The Workforce Advancement Training Grant Request for Consideration form may be found online at www.cvtc.edu/traininggrants. For more information, call 1-800-547-CVTC (2882), ext. 4676.
February 22, 2013
From wqow.com: “Upgrading employee education” – Eau Claire - An area technical college is teaming up with private companies looking to make the most out of their employees.
The skills upgrade is paid for through state grants and these taxpayer dollars are pumping up productivity.
“It allows employers to partner with their local technical college to train their current workforce,” says Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Roxann Vanderwyst.
This partnership has the goal of transforming tax funded grants into more skilled and productive workers.
“Everything we do with our business and industry training is really geared and customized to what the needs are for these employers,” says Vanderwyst.
“Our company signed us up just to send out a better employee to the customers,” says student and electrician Bill Lansin.
Employers can request specific classes from the college, like this electromechanical training program.
“So there is a lot of different areas that they are trying to hit so it’s not just one thing,” says Lansin.
“The focus again is to really upgrade the skill level of employees and overall provide productivity for companies,” says Vanderwyst.
Because increased productivity can save money for more than the employer.
“It’s saving everybody money because you’re sending out a better qualified person. So the people that are paying the taxes or whatever for the program are getting a better person to come out and fix their equipment later too,” says Lansin.
Investing in Wisconsin, one employee at a time.
Chippewa Valley Technical College is currently seeking businesses who want to develop their employee’s skills in the 2013 to 2014 sessions.
The workforce advancement training grants are specific to certain skills sets, so the college does need to hear businesses needs to decide which classes to provide in the Chippewa Valley.
February 18, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Displaced Pactiv workers launch new healthcare careers” – Barbara Kouba-Prewitt worked at the Pactiv plant in Chippewa Falls for more than 31 years; her friend Faye Wolf worked there over 20 year. Their lives were shattered in January when the plant closed, and they’ve still got a ways to go before piecing things back together.
But both Chippewa Falls women will soon be enrolling in a Certified Nursing Assistant class at Chippewa Valley Technical College as their next steps in new, but divergent, careers in healthcare.
After a lot of recent anguish, they see some hope on the horizon.
“Now at least I know there’s something I can do,” said Wolf.
The two women joined dozens of displaced workers in CVTC’s 11-county district to be introduced to new careers through the Healthcare Academy, part of the Bridges2Healthcare program that prepares displaced workers for specific jobs in the field. A group of 16 participants in the Healthcare Academy graduated Thursday in a ceremony at Wissota Health in Chippewa Falls. Seven of those graduates were former Pactiv workers.
“My last year at Pactiv I was a CI leader — a supervisory position,” said Kouba-Prewitt, reflecting on the layoff. “It was very difficult. Both my husband and I worked there.“
The glimmer of hope came from visits from representatives of the Department of Workforce Development.
“They came to our plant just about every week,” Kouba-Prewitt said.
Workforce Resource’s job is to transition unemployed people into long-term employment opportunities. That made the organization the perfect partner for CVTC in the Bridges2Healthcare program.
Bridges2Healthcare is the result of a federal grant made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the so-called stimulus bill of 2010. The bill made money available for retraining displaced workers for the jobs available in their areas.
CVTC was one of a group of eight technical and community colleges in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa to receive a grant to transition workers to healthcare jobs, according to CVTC Career Pathways Coordinator Brenda Scheurer.
“A lot of people were losing their jobs in manufacturing at the time,” said Scheurer. “We found a lot of the skills they had could be applicable to the healthcare industry.“
In Bridges2Healthcare, educational institutions partner with local agencies that work with displaced workers. In the Chippewa Valley, that’s Workforce Resource Inc.
“We were contacted by CVTC to put on the Healthcare Academy and to recruit people for the Bridges2Healthcare program,” said Sue Lane of Workforce Resource.
Workforce Resource screens prospects for their interest and aptitude for healthcare careers. Those selected enter the Healthcare Academy, a two-week session in which they explore the different aspects and opportunities available in the field.
“We go over medical terminology, regulations, safety, communication and time management,” Lane said. “They also become First Aid certified and do a lot of tours of local health care facilities.“
Through the process, the participants find areas of healthcare that interest them and are then channeled into further training programs, like Bridges2Healthcare’s Medical Office Receptionist or Geriatric Nursing Assistant, taught by CVTC instructors. Some enter regular CVTC programs like Nursing or Dental Hygienist.
“It’s remarkable,” said Kouba-Prewitt. “I became more interested in healthcare through the program. I’ve seen things that I didn’t even realize were part of healthcare.“
Wolf left factory work with a shoulder injury, and she was in need of a career change.
“I can’t do factory work anymore. I have to find something my shoulder can handle,” she said.
Wolf found what she was looking for in the Pharmacy Technician program at CVTC.
“I didn’t even know (the job) existed,” Wolf said. She thought all the people behind the counter at the pharmacy had impressive advanced degrees that were out of her reach. The Healthcare Academy taught her differently, and the rest of the Bridges2Healthcare program will help her transition into the career.
Kouba-Prewitt is headed for the Bridges2Healthcare Medical Office Receptionist program, but she also plans to take some accounting at CVTC, “so I can do the billing.“
Not all of the Healthcare Academy participants were laid-off workers. Nicole Barreiro of Chippewa Falls left a job in a field she just felt wasn’t right for her.
“I never worked in the healthcare field, but I felt I needed a fresh start,” she said. “Healthcare is very popular. There’s a lot of demand for workers. I like working with people. I love having that communication and interaction.“
Her explorations led her to CVTC’s Renal Dialysis Technician program.
Other Healthcare Academy sessions have been held in Eau Claire and River Falls since last fall, with more scheduled for later this year.
February 11, 2013
From chippewa-wi.com: “Chippewa County Businesses Receive Economic Development Recognition” – Winners of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) 2013 Biennial Economic Development Awards have been selected—two of the award recipients were Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) nominees. CCEDC nominated the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Progressive Rail (PR) who will receive their awards during the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development.
The CVTC, recognized for the 2013 WEDA Biennial Organization Award was nominated by CCEDC for their outstanding employer-employee based programs, technical certificate programs serving employers, workforce development, associate degree programs and high school programs. CCEDC believes the CVTC has strengthened the Chippewa Valley workforce and enhances the region for economic development. CVTC offers excellent academics, strong occupational training, small class sizes, and dedicated instructors providing Chippewa Valley students with high-quality education and training opportunities.
“Chippewa Valley Technical College takes its role in economic development very seriously, and we continue to work hard to help local companies by meeting their needs with highly trained workers in a variety of fields”, state Bruce Barker, CVTC President. “Economic development is best approached as a partnership, and we are proud to partner with business and industry and other agencies to forward the economic health of west central Wisconsin. We would like to thank WEDA for this recognition of our efforts.”
PR received the 2013 WEDA Biennial Company Award. CCEDC nominated PR for this award because of their transportation infrastructure improvements, support of existing and new industrial development initiatives thus eliminating congestion and inefficiencies and improving safety on the PR lines in Western Wisconsin. PR’s recently completed an addition of two-new passing tracks to its main line in Chippewa County signifies an over $5 million investment of private sector funds. The addition of these passing lanes has increased capacity to the entire rail network giving railcars operational feasibility and could be considered an industrial development incubator attracting more business and talent to the area.
“Perhaps the greatest mark of achievement in Progressive Rail’s track record is seen by the existing and new businesses that have elected to invest on our line which brings with that their commitment, careers, commerce and community involvement to Chippewa County and State of Wisconsin. I see railroads as America’s best economic development incubator and Progressive Rail is proud to be part of this investment”, stated Progressive Rails Owner and President Dave Fellon. “We are honored to be the recipient of the WEDA economic development award and are appreciative to the CCEDC and WEDA for recognizing our efforts.”
“It is always great when Chippewa County businesses such as CVTC and PR are recognized by a group that represents economic development for the entire State of Wisconsin” stated CCEDC President/CEO Charlie Walker. “The roles both CVTC and PR play are diverse and needed for successful economic development; I look forward to strengthening the partnership with these economic development team players as we work to expand the Wisconsin workforce and economic base.”
In 1985, WEDA established the Biennial Awards program with the purpose of recognizing exceptional contributions to the economic vitality of Wisconsin through the use of creativity, leadership, effort, investment or other attributes which further broad-based economic development goals and objectives within the State of Wisconsin.
February 7, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Tyler: Taking the ‘boring’ out of economic development” – On its face, fostering economic development seems to be a pretty straightforward process. But sometimes telling stories, not spouting statistics, is actually a more effective way to attract a prospect to an area’s business community.
That was the message delivered to an attentive audience by Woodville-based OEM Fabricators CEO Mark Tyler during the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting last month.
He pointed out that a variety of very good reasons are touted to entice a new business to move to the region or for an established business to go ahead with that expansion project — things like being close to markets, an area’s attractiveness and quality of life, along with reasonably priced real estate, great educational systems, good workforce, access to transportation corridors and supply, and solid demographics.
“You still need to provide buildable sites in industrial parks, still need to provide the data … to do all that stuff,” Tyler said. “But if we’re really going to differentiate ourselves from others … we really need to develop some new stories and work in different ways.”
Part of redefining the story comes in acknowledging that the world of business is divided into two parts: Economic drivers and economic followers.
Economic drivers — manufacturing, agriculture, education and mining — create what Tyler calls an “echo in the economy” and should constitute the focus of economic development efforts.
“You take a product, put it through some process, make it worth more money,” he explained. “You send it somewhere else, you bring your money here.”
While recognizing their importance in every community, Tyler contends that economic followers — banking, health care, insurance, retail and services — should not be the focus of economic development.
“The reason we don’t focus on them is that if we’re going to increase haircuts, we either have to make crew cuts stylish in men and women — or we have to have more people,” he said. “It’s a follower industry, not a leader industry.”
It’s the growers that create the value and increase the opportunities for the population to grow.
Blessed be Dunn County
Tyler pointed out that in addition to a strong foundation in leader industries, Dunn County is also blessed with good geography, specifically its proximity to the Twin Cities market to the west.
Little comes from the north and not much more from the south, he noted. “But most of what comes through is from the east and drives right through Dunn County. So from a distribution and logistics perspective, this is the Holy Grail for distribution [west] into the Twin Cities.
When it comes to attracting companies to the area, Tyler said, “One of the things that’s always frustrated me about relocation is you never know who the decision maker is. Oftentimes it’s the owner’s or the plant manager’s spouse. They may not decide where they’re going to look, but they’re going to decide where they’re not going to go.”
And then there’s the issue of how best to encouraging those thinking about starting up new businesses.
“We certainly want all that fundamental stuff in place where we have Extension classes that talk about how to start companies … marketing … putting together a business plan,” Tyler said. “But how do we tell the stories that … starting a company is OK? To get past the fear of putting the mortgage on their house on the line or taking out a second mortgage?”
Unless other entrepreneurs — especially fairly new ones — share their experiences in a way “so people understand that it’s possible, it doesn’t happen,” Tyler said.
The art of collaboration
Collaboration — as opposed to simple cooperation — is key, what Tyler calls participants “getting out of our silos.”
To explain the concept, he shared OEM’s recent success story involving a project the company recently undertook involving Chippewa Valley Technical College and Baldwin-Woodville High School.
“Th three of us got together and basically we made the agreement that people resources were going to be on the table, financial resources. … If there’s rules that get in the way … we would gather to fight the rules and together make progress.”
The triad created what they call a manufacturing pathway that starts with ninth grade students exploring the world of manufacturing.
“By the 10th grade, they declare that they’re going on this pathway,” Tyler explained. “By the time they’ve completed high school, they’re working part time, they’ve earned a half a year of credit tuition free toward their program, whether it’s welding or machine tool or industrial mechanics or whatever [at CVTC].”
The result is a faster path toward gainful — and meaningful — employment that benefits the student, the college and the company. OEM covers the student/employee’s tuition while he or she works 20 hours a week.
“We’ve looked at all the components and solved the problems — the financial problems, the teacher credential problems, the block time scheduling at the high school problems — all the things we worked on collectively to solve,” Tyler reflected, adding that while there are still some issues being worked out, “If all of us hadn’t put all our resources together, we couldn’t have got it done.”
Tyler estimates that OEM has hired more than 300 people over the past three years and spent $1.2 million recruiting, drug testing and training employees. He figures the new collaborative effort — at a cost of $4,000 to $4,500 per student — will provide substantial savings over the recruitment and training process.
Labor makes up 40 to 50 percent of the cost of doing business, and most manufacturers report difficulty in finding qualified workers.
“That’s their hot button,” Tyler said. “You solve any problem associated with that and you’re going to make some progress.”
On the administrative side of the business equation, Tyler pointed out that UW-Stout’s goal to have 100 percent of its students to participate in either a co-op program or internship could benefit local manufacturers and other economic drivers.
Noting that half of OEM’s management team are UW-Stout graduates, he said, “For about 15 years, we’ve been bringing in interns,” he said. “We found that about half of them never go away.”
Tyler said it finally occurred to them that perhaps OEM should recruit interns with the intent of keeping them on as future management staff. With more people leaving the workforce in western Wisconsin than entering, that kind of retention could have a dramatic impact on the region’s economic viability.
“I would really like to see participation and collaboration with helping build the talent pipeline,” Tyler said. “Workforce development and economic development are really the same thing in today’s climate.”
And in the meantime, keep those stories coming.