From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC, UW-Oshkosh hope to make a dent in projected pilot gap” — By Noell Dickmann – A dark cloud is looming above the aviation industry: A predicted shortage of pilots by 2022 will affect everyone who travels by air.

Jared Huss, Fox Valley Technical College Aeronautics Pilot Training Lead Instructor, said a shortage of pilots will mean fewer planes in the air and fewer seats for passengers – pushing up the cost of air travel.

“Everything’s kind of pointing to that perfect storm of that happening,” Huss said.

In response to the shortage, colleges are making changes to get more pilots into the work force faster. In Oshkosh, FVTC and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh established a partnership to help meet the demand for pilots.

Huss said there are a number of reasons for the shortage, including mandatory retirements and duty time regulation changes in the wake of Continental Flight 3407s crash into a house near Buffalo, N.Y. in 2009 that killed 50.

Pilots must now have more uninterrupted rest between flights and are required to have an ATP license, or Airline Transport Pilot license, which mandates 1,500 flight hours as a pilot. Regional airlines could previously hire pilots with 250 hours, but now legally cannot, Huss said.

The 1,500-hour qualification poses a problem for pilot-training graduates, who in general come out of aeronautics programs with 250-300 flight hours.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) forecasts that 18,000 pilots from major airlines in the United States will reach mandatory retirement age by 2022. The GAO also forecasts that regional airlines will need about 4,500 pilots per year for the next decade to fill the void.

However, studies show the flight-training industry can only support between 2,500-3,000 pilots per year.

To help fill that void, graduates from two-year schools with programs that are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration can qualify for a restricted ATP at 1,250 hours instead.

FVTC is applying for that certification. Students will have the option to graduate with a technical diploma in two years, and can return for a third year to earn their associate’s degree and flight instructor certificate. The changes will give FVTC the ability to double its capacity, graduating an average of 16 pilots per year.

“I realize that when there’s a demand for 4,500 pilots a year that’s…a drop in the bucket, but we’re doing what we can to stretch that and grow our capacity,” Huss said. “And if all the other flight training programs out there can do something similar to scale, then hopefully we can ramp it up for the need.”

The typical path of graduates is to go on to be a flight instructor and build the hours they need, then move up to a regional airline, continuing to build hours and work their way up to a major airline.

“We send graduates all over, anywhere from those commercial type of jobs, like [pilots for] the skydiver, crop dusting, aerial photography, all the way up to corporate pilot and airline pilot as well,” Huss said.

In the long run, a new collaboration with UWO could be recognized for a restricted ATP at 1,000 hours as well.

The partnership between the schools allows FVTC graduates to earn a Bachelor of Applied Studies degree with an emphasis in aviation management from UWO online, and they can do it while they’re working. It allows them to get in the work force sooner and build more flight time.

Take Kodye Shier, who graduated from FVTC in 2011 and went on to be a paid flight instructor intern at FVTC for two years. He built up about 1,000 hours of flight experience, and is now a corporate pilot for Menards based in Eau Claire.

Originally from Rice Lake, the 24-year-old now has 1,600 flight hours under his wings and flies Menards staff all over the Midwest on a daily basis.

He said taking the route he did has put him ahead – on average he has about 250 more flight hours than other pilots he sees with the same level of experience.

Shier is working part-time toward his bachelor’s degree through the online program with UWO. He said the degree will help him when looking for jobs.

“I think with aviation timing is everything,” Shier said. “And I feel like where I’m at right now is a very comfortable spot as far as timing.”

Huss said not all FVTC graduates want to be airline pilots – actually, he sees many going the corporate route like Shier did for stability.

“We just want to have our program and partnership with UW-Oshkosh to be as best set up as possible so that if our graduates want to go that route, that they’re set up and ready to go as best as they can.”

From postcrescent.com: “FVTC receives $3.6M state jobs grant to expand classes” — Fox Valley Technical College will use a $3.6 million grant from the Wisconsin Fast Forward program to train workers for high-demand fields including transportation, health care, manufacturing and logistics.

FVTC president Susan May said the money will allow the college to train up to 856 workers with the technical skills needed in today’s regional economy. FVTC will train additional truck drivers, personal care workers, production welders, automation technology workers, operations specialists and phlebotomists.

“Fox Valley Technical College and the Wisconsin Technical College System are incredibly passionate about building skills for careers that are in demand, both locally and around the state,” May said in a statement. “Economic development needs partnerships that are innovative and strategically aligned with the intricacies of a new economy. ”

Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who was at FVTC’s Grand Chute campus Wednesday to award the grant, said the money will help address the skills gap in Wisconsin.

“The investments we are making in Fox Valley Technical College under Gov. Walker’s leadership will enhance opportunities for working families in the Fox Valley region and help employers find the workers they need,” Kleefisch said in a statement.

The money comes from Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity initiative, which provided more than $35 million to expand the Department of Workforce Development-operated Wisconsin Fast Forward program. The initiative focuses on reducing the waiting lists at state technical colleges for high-demand fields, increasing opportunities for high school students to earn industry-recognized credentials and enhancing job opportunities for workers with disabilities.

Technical colleges submitted lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year.

From insightonmfg.com: “Collaborating on success: Colleges, businesses team up on new engineering technology degree” – by MaryBeth Matzek – Input and feedback from regional manufacturers played an integral role in an innovative education program rolling out this fall at 13 educational institutions in the New North.

Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance, a consortium of New North schools, announced plans last year to create a regional bachelor’s degree program in engineering technology. The program allows students to enter at any of the NEW ERA schools and then finish up the program at University of Wisconsin campuses in Green Bay and Oshkosh. The degree program is the first of its kind in Wisconsin and fills an important void for employers.

“These are important skills manufacturers need to fill. We have jobs for students coming out with these degrees,” says Scott Kettler, general manager of Plexus’ manufacturing facilities in Neenah. “It’s been a great collaboration between educational institutions and businesses how they came together to address the need.”

Collaboration also was a must between the participating schools. Led by UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells, who retires in August, Fox Valley Technical College President Susan May and other college leaders, NEW ERA members looked at the available offerings and worked together on creating the new program.

The three new bachelor’s degrees being offered are in electrical engineering technology, environmental engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology. The degrees were approved earlier this year by the UW Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission, opening the door to students to enroll in the program starting this fall. The degrees use programs and classes already in place at participating schools, which created new classes to fill in the gaps.

Employers helped craft the program by participating in listening sessions and advisory committees, says Greg Kleinheinz, associate dean of the College of Letters and Sciences and director of the Environmental Research and Innovation Center at UW-Oshkosh.

“We talked to them and listened to their needs. We worked with them on how to tailor the program and what it should include,” he says.

That kind of feedback is important, Kettler says. “Manufacturers were asked what kind of skills we were looking for and helped develop the curriculum,” he says. “That way, the students coming out will be right for what’s needed.”

The new program differs from current offerings in the New North, Kleinheinz adds. Engineering technicians are more hands-on than a traditional engineer who may be concerned with design, but have more in-depth studies, such as in management, than students who pursue an associate’s degree at a    local technical college.

Kleinheinz predicts there will be two types of students who enroll in the program: those already possessing an associate’s degree from a technical college who are out in the workforce and want to receive their bachelor’s degree; and a traditional student who may start the program at a local technical college or two-year UW school before finishing up in Oshkosh or Green Bay.

“In many cases, I’m guessing we’ll have students coming out of technical colleges with an associate’s degree, get a job and then the employer will help pay for this program so they can further their education and expand their skills,” he says. “It will be a win-win for employer and employee.”

While all program graduates will be in high demand, the ones with the environmental engineering technology degree will especially be sought after since that is a new and growing field, Kleinheinz says. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 14 percent increase in environmental engineering technology positions between 2010 and 2020. Students with that degree can find work in industries outside of manufacturing, including biotechnology, water and wastewater management and agribusiness.

In Wisconsin, only UW-Stout and the Milwaukee School of Engineering offer bachelor’s degrees in engineering technology.

“You’re taking that technical skills base and adding more analytical thinking and problem-solving skills,” Kettler says. “Those are all important skills to have in addition to that applied, hands-on education. It’s great we are able to develop and nurture these skills in the region.”

NEW ERA Members
In the new engineering technology program, students may enter at any of the 13 NEW ERA colleges including: College of the Menominee Nation, Fox Valley Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, University of Wisconsin Extension, UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley, UW-Green Bay, UW-Manitowoc, UW-Marinette, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Sheboygan.

 

From healthcaredesignmagazine.com: “Photo tour: Fox Valley Technical College Health Simulation and Technology Center” — The new $12 million Health Simulation and Technology Center at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Appleton, Wis., provides career training to new and existing healthcare professionals in nursing, medical assistance, health information technology, occupational therapy, and personal care. The center’s design integrates sophisticated technology, such as human simulators, to help students better prepare for real-world situations.

The dual-functioning facility was created through a collaborative process between the healthcare and education design teams at Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA). When considering the spectrum of simulation buildings, from fidelity (realism) to flexibility (allowing multiple functions), the college wanted maximum flexibility to help meet evolving healthcare training needs. This was a key driver to the final design, and the EUA team developed a solution that blended the two elements: Glass doors and supply servers provide realism, while adaptable rooms and movable partitions allow for a variety of teaching scenarios.

The new-build, three-story, 60,500-square-foot building features substantive glass and serves as a prominent entrance to the campus. Each floor of the building supports different teaching functions, as follows:

  • First floor, simulation center: Designed as a virtual hospital toreplicate real-world clinical experiences.
    • Eight ED/hospital rooms, with realistic equipment and raised control/observation rooms with patient simulators
    • Debriefing rooms that feature instant video replay of medical scenarios performed in the hospital rooms, allowing instructors to give students real-time feedback
    • A mock ambulance bay for EMT training
  • Second floor, clinic and laboratory: Student gathering spaces, plus other simulation areas.
    • A replicated six-room outpatient clinic
    • Mock doctor’s office with reception area
    • Functioning phlebotomy lab
    • Two computer labs
  • Third floor, rehabilitative therapy and home healthcare: Designed to help students learn adaptive home care strategies.
    • Simulated home settings such as kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom
    • Size-adjustable classrooms with physical and occupational therapy equipment.

The primary challenge with this project was that health simulation is an evolving curriculum. The FVTC administrative team, teaching staff, and EUA design team drew on successful simulation center best practices, and applied knowledge of healthcare and learning trends to provide flexibility for the future needs of the program.

From thenorthwestern.com: “Jared Huss: Oshkosh should leverage its many strengths to help it succeed” — When we critique ourselves, what do we focus on? Our weaknesses, right? When we have to complete a task that we don’t necessarily enjoy, we put it off and stress out about it, right? And when we receive a performance appraisal, we tend to fixate on and attempt to improve upon our weak areas, don’t we?

Think about a time when everything was clicking for you; whether that be playing basketball and making every shot, learning a language, mastering your golf swing, helping out with your favorite charity, networking with new people, and the list goes on. Capture that moment; reflect back on what was going on around you. What kind of environment were you in that allowed that powerful feeling of success to surround you? What over-arching strength were you using to sink every shot, master that new language, or effortlessly dialogue with complete strangers? Do you spend the bulk of your time in that strength environment?

I have enjoyed the distinct privilege and pleasure of working for an organization that creates an environment just like that. Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) is innovative when it comes to leveraging the strengths of people, and creating a culture that focuses on the growth of those strengths. At FVTC we have a very unique opportunity to live and work in our strength zone. By focusing on our strengths, we achieve more, enjoy more, and succeed more.

FVTC takes the talents of people and uses those traits to build innovative curriculum and dynamic partnerships, internally and externally. The results of this approach to employee development is directly tied to enhanced student learning and workplace training. It’s simply a trickle down; the more we all enjoy our jobs, the more success our students enjoy.

When I look at Oshkosh, I see incredible potential aligned with this type of fundamental mindset. Our community is exemplary when it comes to events, cultural attractions and history, unique waterways, strong educational institutions, and of course, aviation-related initiatives, to name a few. Those involved in leading these areas could ignite a strengths movement to make an even greater impact.

I have learned firsthand that leveraging strengths not only contributes to better results and a greater impact on people, but the concept alone builds leadership. I have been on both the receiving end and the giving end of an environment that promotes the strengths we each have. Naturally, as people learn how to turn their strengths into successes, they realize new found confidence, independence, and value in who they are as unique individuals.

As a leader, I see the best come out of our team in times of adversity. Should one of us stumble, we quickly pick them up and focus on solutions rather than blame. We break through the “ya-but” and into the “how-to.” Then, we turn the “how-to” into actions, dispatching each team member into their strength zone of the collective goal. With the right team, nothing is impossible.

As an ancient philosopher once said, “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, we did it ourselves.” This captures perfectly the culture and leadership I have experienced at FVTC. Again, on both the receiving and giving end of this, I can say firsthand how effective an environment this creates to develop leadership at all levels of the organization. This empowering atmosphere allows each individual’s strengths to be harnessed and contributed to the collective goals of the organization and community.

For Oshkosh, our community leaders and hard-working citizens are well positioned to take the next step in personal and professional development if we simply allow for more opportunities to apply their strengths. Think back to that captured moment of success, and imagine how each of us could augment one success into another success just by having the chance to showcase what we do best. Whether it be working with our hands, growing community relationships, or thinking of new and exciting opportunities, what matters is that we do what we’re best at.

Here is my leadership philosophy: Every success I’ve been fortunate to experience over the years is because of the people I work with every day. The team, organization, and community that I’m a part of is very special, and I’m fortunate each day to take on challenges and go after opportunities, side by side with them. And of course, as with any individual who enjoys success in his or her professional life, I would be remiss without recognizing how important a loving and supportive family is as well.

From apics.org: “Fox Valley Technical College and APICS” — Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) and APICS are celebrating 10 years of collaboration in May 2014. FVTC has been our trusted online partner for certification review course delivery and rely on them to provide our certification candidates and with an exceptional learning experience. Over these 10 years, hundreds of professionals have completed their preparation courses through FVTC’s online learning environment, and they give FVTC consistently high ratings on their experience.

FVTC understands the needs of APICS members and has shaped its programs accordingly, like the corporate cohort program that enables students at locations across the country to participate in a course simultaneously. The online delivery format provides 24/7 access, and also reduces ancillary expenses associated with training such as travel, housing, meals and time away from the office. This is especially relevant when supply chain and operations teams are dispersed across the country or around the world.

APICS Director of Corporate Services, Dominic Longo, CSCP, works with organizations to implement training, education and certification. He says, “The team at FVTC does a great job for our corporate clients who opt for private online training for the CPIM and CSCP programs. Supply chain leaders all see the need for professional development, but some just can’t afford to have employees away from their desks four to six days per class. Other clients find the courses to be a great way to pull together individuals who are geographically dispersed and create an online community for training. Great instructors and flexible course timelines have made FVTC an integral part of our delivery strategy.”

FVTC was joined by APICS Director of Professional Development, Bob Collins, CFPIM, CIRM, CSCP, at their anniversary celebration in Appleton, WI on May 14.

From postcrescent.com: “FVTC program a new path to restarting a troubled life” — Mike Bartelt decided it was time for a change. A big one.

After dropping out of school at 16, struggling with a longtime alcohol addiction, an attempted suicide and two stints in prison — the most recent ending in October for his fifth OWI — the Appleton man said he was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

“I need to make something out of my life because I have a daughter and three grandkids,” said Bartelt, 50, a recovering alcoholic. “I’ve been a loser all my life and I’ve got to change. No one’s going to change it for me.”

Bartelt may not be able to create a new beginning to his life, but he’s taking a shot at a better ending thanks in part to a new program at the Grand Chute-based Fox Valley Technical College that helps Adult Basic Education (ABE) students by breaking down barriers that exist outside of education.

Bartelt is working on his GED, and on May 15 will be certified as a transport trailer service technician through FVTC’s 18-week program. He has been recruited by Master Fleet, and has been working second shift there for more than six weeks while finishing out classes.

After living most recently at the COTS men’s shelter in Appleton, Bartelt has moved into his own apartment in Neenah that’s close to his job.

“That’s what I get for asking for help,” he said with a laugh.

Bartelt’s pathway to success was made possible by a Barriers grant from the J.J. Keller Foundation that was awarded to FVTC last fall. The foundation was looking for an out-of-the-box idea to support with a $46,000 grant for a pilot cycle.

“We brainstormed, and after talking, we thought, we can pay for tuition but what about the things that prevent students from getting to school like clothing, haircuts and hygiene products,” said Chuck Wachter, FVTC client reporting and grants specialist and a member of the ABE leadership team.

Or simply having enough gas in the car to make the trek to class.

“We look at it as there is no barrier except your motivation,” said Wachter, who carries and answers the “barriers” cell phone 24/7.

The program fits well with the J.J. Keller Foundation’s mission to serve economically and academically disadvantaged students.

“It is designed to provide (students) with the skills necessary to gain and maintain employment that provides a life-sustaining wage,” Keller Foundation executive director Mary Harp-Jirschele said.

Bartelt received grants to pay for school, but needed funding for the tools required in the transport trailer program as well as other needs. That’s when he learned he was eligible for a Barriers grant, which provided more than just funding.

“Normally ABE students are kind of on their own,” Wachter said. “By grouping them together we’ve seen them grow such a tremendous bond with one another and they are using each other to overcome barriers. It just blew up and it was amazing. It’s not even the money that we had to put towards it. It’s the money and the attention and putting this group together.”

Participants in the program also are required to pay it forward by mentoring the next group of students and volunteering at area nonprofits. Bartelt volunteers at Loaves & Fishes of the Fox Valley through his church, Trinity Lutheran in Appleton.

The pay-it-forward philosophy is one of the most compelling reasons the Keller Foundation backed the Barriers program.

“Students have taken it upon themselves to volunteer at local agencies, which not only allows them to give back to the community, but to gain self-confidence and self-empowerment in the process,” Harp-Jirschele said.

Wachter, who has learned how to make dollars stretch, knew a new set of tools for Bartelt would retail for about $6,000, but “one way or another we were getting Mike these tools,” he said. “We get him through this education and his only barrier is the tools? We’re going to power through this one.”

Wachter bought tools that were going up for auction at FVTC for $200. It was about 75 percent of what Bartelt needed. The rest was supplemented through the Barriers grant.

“The money saved can now go back to other students,” said Wachter, who’s also lined up a deep discount at Kohl’s for students in need of work clothing and a dentist to offer discounted exams. Aerotech, a staffing agency in Appleton, has agreed to interview each student and offer individual feedback.

“The whole goal is to get them working and doing things on their own,” Wachter said.

Based on the success of the Barriers program, the Keller Foundation has agreed to a $45,000 grant for the second cycle.

“The results of the first year of the program was evidence that our investment in the second year of the program was not only warranted but critical to success in the long run,” Harp-Jirschele said.

It’s literally changed Bartelt’s life.

“From the first day of class moving forward he just kept accelerating and doing a lot bigger and better things,” said Nathan Krepline, Bartelt’s instructor in FVTC’s diesel technology program. “The way we have the classes set up here is it’s all stepping stones so that way the students would be able to build their confidence and build their level of success here.

“Mike has taken full advantage of that. … Everybody that is connected with this story sees the same thing. If he didn’t come to the college, where would he be? What would he have done?”

When Bartelt applied for the job at Master Fleet, he naturally asked to use Krepline as a reference.

“They never called me,” Krepline said. “I never even talked to the employer and (Mike) thought I did all this magical behind-the-scenes work. And I didn’t.”

From thenorthwestern.com: “Life after Oshkosh Corp” — Evaristo Mondragon Jr. got used to the lines.

He had lined up for interviews and skill tests at job fairs across the Fox Valley, welding gear usually in tow, since February. An assembler at Oshkosh Corp. for four years, until he was laid off last July, Mondragon’s unemployment benefits had run out and graduation from Fox Valley Technical College’s welding program in May approached fast.

The cold-calls to companies throughout the valley, like the job fairs, produced only glimmers of hope. Mondragon, 30, was told he wasn’t quite qualified yet, even for the part-time jobs, so often he can still recite the standard response from memory.

“‘We like everything about you, but we really need someone with three to five years of welding experience,’” he said.

So earlier this month, when officials at Ariens Co. directed him to another line, after the lines for his interview and another for the skills test, he wasn’t sure what this line was for.

“Eventually one guy walking by told us ‘They’re offering you a job,’” Mondragon said. “A couple of days later, I got offered a job on second shift. They either liked something in my skills test or they liked everything.”

This summer more than 700 Oshkosh Corp. employees will face those same lines as they look for new work in the wake of another layoff driven by declining orders for the company’s military transport trucks.

But examples like those of Mondragon and others who were let go in previous layoffs offer hope, for both the former employees and for the broader economy, that there is life after Oshkosh Corp. for the company’s former employees.

Life after layoffs

Mass layoffs are never easy affairs.

They can depress a regional economy, push longtime employees into a crowded job market, strain families and require government assistance to support and retrain people in the name of recovery.

And then there’s Oshkosh Corp.’s 2013 layoffs.

As defense revenues declined by more than 30 percent, the size of the company’s workforce had to shrink. After 8,700 Mine-Resistant All-Terrain Vehicles and 26,000 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles trucks and trailers rolled off the line, layoffs had to come once the orders were filled.

But an odd thing happened: The region’s economy absorbed a significant portion of the 1,150 production and office employees Oshkosh Corp. laid off last year.

After the layoffs in April and July of 2013, local unemployment rates in Winnebago, Outagamie and Fond du Lac counties continued to decline for the rest of the year. At a job fair Oshkosh Corp. held last year to help more than 500 laid off workers find new jobs, it boasted that participating companies had more jobs to fill than there were employees being laid off.

And that hasn’t changed. Even today, 19 companies have 121 welding and metal fabrication jobs available in the region according to Wisconsin TechConnect, a job service offered through Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

“It shows the brilliance of the economy up there,” said Reed Hall , CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. They’ve been through these issues before,” Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Reed Hall said. “The good news is there are not a lot of mass layoffs going on. Mass layoffs at a 10-year low which is a good sign for our economy.”

Support systems

When Oshkosh Corp. completes the layoff this summer of another 700 production and 60 office employees itwill have laid off more people than the combined workforces of both hospitals in Oshkosh.

Affected employees aren’t the only ones taking notice, though, as local, state and federal agencies continue to look for ways to help soften the blow.

Just last week, the WEDC unveiled a special loan program to help manufacturers, fabrication shops, machine shops, parts suppliers and other parts of the supply chain months ahead of time specifically to help Oshkosh Corp. suppliers.

Hall, WEDC’s CEO, said the agency would provide a loan or loan guarantee of $50,000 to $250,000, provided the company matches 50 percent of the loan amount, to help businesses fund equipment purchases, add staff and take other steps to pursue other business opportunities.

“We certainly understand the impact the Defense Department cuts have and how that ripples through our economy,” Hall said. “We’re doing what we can to retain these jobs here in Wisconsin. And Oshkosh Corp. will make it through. We have a lot of confidence in Oshkosh Corp., that they will … grow again.”

The WEDC program is just the most recent of a series of federal, state and local efforts to mitigate the impact of the layoffs.

The Department of Defense took notice last fall and awarded the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission an $837,000 grant to find ways to soften the blow of defense cutbacks on the company’s supply chain. The grant includes funds to explore diversifying the economy and specifically allocated funds for a marketing and cluster study for the aviation business park under development at the southeast corner of Wittman Regional Airport.

Chamco CEO Elizabeth Hartman said the study will identify a focus, or market, for the aviation business park that would identify 20 to 30 companies economic development officials could target to fill the park.

“When they reach out to contacts, they really try to identify potential folks that would want to be a part of a cluster centered around a business issue or cluster,” Hartman told the Council in March. “You already have built-in prospects as a result. There’s also a marketing aspect to it, but there might be some additional work we want to do locally.”

Moving forward

Some former Oshkosh Corp. employees, like Mondragon, went back to school for new training. He said the state offered him $1,000-per-semester to help with tuition and that FVTC staff “was a pleasure to work with” and helped make sure he started school in the fall.

Fox Valley Technical College Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college’s Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center welcomes 64 new students to its one-year welding certificate training program each school year. In addition, students are able to take individual courses to upgrade their skills.

“All of our classes have filled up to the max for a long time now,” Cebery said. “There’s definitely a mix between laid off workers and young people here for their first series of training. The night classes are definitely a big mix.”

Others found new jobs, like machinist Pat Wallace, who said he was offered three jobs within a month after he was laid off last summer.

“It was a good time to be laid off,” Wallace said.

Wallace opted to take a job as an inspector at Eagle Supply and Plastics over ones at F. Ziegler Enterprises and Mercury Marine because it paid better and he could work first shift. An added bonus: He’d be working with his friend and former Oshkosh Corp. coworker John Schmitz.

Wallace, 55, was prepared for the worst, though, because he had already been there five years ago. He had worked at Marvel Manufacturing for 22 years when the recession struck. Sales plummeted and so did the hours.

In 2009, Wallace landed at Oshkosh Corp. at a time when production was ramping up so fast then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the company on Nov. 12, 2009. Gates called what he saw the most impressive military vehicle production run since World War II.

Workers hired at that time largely knew going in that they were being hired for the duration of the order, and that peacetime would bring reduced orders and a scaled back work force.

Wallace said his job search experiences, in good times and bad, have taught him that staffing companies can be useful, but workers should avoid signing contracts with them; that age isn’t the issue older workers may think it is, and that building up savings is key.

“It worked out that my training and experience were right for Eagle,” Wallace said. “The only thing I was worried about was health insurance. I’m older. But I had money in savings to hold me over.”

From postcrescent.com: “FVTC President Dr. Susan May: It’s time to put ‘body farm’ to rest” — You may have seen the flurry of media recently regarding a forensic training field at our Public Safety Training Center. The concept of an outdoor forensic training field may make for a tempting headline, but it is far from being anything final.

I’m sure you may be wondering about this development, so I’ll attempt to provide some clarification about this proposed aspect of the overall facility.

First, the concept of an all-season forensic training field has been included from the very beginning through all planning and referendum communication phases of this center. The very first rough drawings of this facility included this potential outdoor lab, as did early conversations with community leaders in 2009. As the project progressed, we often addressed questions about it, but this part of the center wasn’t highlighted because it’s by no means the primary focus of this new facility. From the beginning, it was considered a longer-range project for possible development in the future.

Right now, the forensic training field is only a concept, an idea, a possibility for further consideration. We are nowhere near actual implementation. Before any action is taken, we would need to address regulatory requirements, reporting standards and operational processes, let alone the research and development our staff would need to undertake. We have many more critical priorities than this, both in getting the PSTC up and running and across the college overall. Ultimately, we may determine that it simply isn’t worth pursuing if the regulations are prohibitive and/or costly.

Looking back, it’s important to remember that public hearings were held to provide information and answer any questions on all of our referendum projects, which were widely supported by the public in 2012. FVTC delivered more than 125 community presentations, our web site included detailed information on the projects, and communications were sent to municipalities, planning commissions, the state Department of Natural Resources, and many other agencies. We sent letters to the adjacent property owners to inform them about the PSTC and invited them to contact us with any questions or concerns.

We were also required to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the PSTC development. In that report, the forensic training field was specifically referenced in terms of secured access, visual appearance and odors. This was made available for public review and feedback, and a public hearing was held specifically on this report. The final document has been posted on our website since it was published in September 2012.

Our local media sources have really gotten ahead of themselves on this one; perhaps some of our own exuberant and well-meaning staff has as well. I find it very interesting that all of this media attention has generated a number of inquiries from people about donating their bodies for this type of research, as well as contacts from several universities worldwide interested in working with us at this facility. They, too, are perhaps getting ahead of themselves.

Is there merit to the idea of creating the nation’s first all-season forensic training field to support forensics education, training and research? Absolutely. But, as I’ve tried to convey, there’s a lot more homework to be done. And if this moves forward at some point, it will need to be done with respect for process, laws and regulations, neighbors and communications that are appropriate and timely.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Health care delegation visits Fox Cities” — APPLETON — International health care delegates will be in the Fox Cities today and Friday to gain insight into health care management best practices and tour facilities.

The Fox Cities Regional Partnership will host nearly 20 delegates from the Special American Business Internship Training Hospital Administration program. The mid- to senior-level health care executives from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Ukraine began their U.S. tour March 28 in Washington, D.C.

“We’re excited to host this prestigious delegation and have teamed up with our region’s world-class health care organizations to share their knowledge and experiences with the group,” Larry Burkhardt, executive vice president at Fox Cities Regional Partnership, said in a statement. “Our local health systems have been able to provide a variety of the best health care options in the region, and to have others outside the Fox Valley learn and benefit from our leaders is an honor.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce is coordinating the group’s visit. A Commerce Department representative contacted the Fox Cities Regional Partnership and requested the visit after finding information about the region’s health care assets on the Partnership’s website. The representative said the Fox Cities was selected for its national reputation as a leader in high quality health care at low cost.

The delegates will visit with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Fox Valley, the Orthopedic & Sports Institute of the Fox Valley (OSI), Neuroscience Group, Affinity Health System at St. Elizabeth Hospital, ThedaCare at the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, Neurospine Center and Fox Valley Technical College’s new Health Simulation & Technology Lab.

Discussion topics will include financial management, new medical technologies and risk management, equipment manufacturers, relationships with insurance companies, medical ethics and conflict resolution, and doctor and patient rights.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Nienhaus donates Winagamie Golf Course to Appleton foundation” – Winagamie Golf Course has been a second home to Mary Beth Nienhaus for 43 years. Now, the legendary educator, coach, golfer and benefactor has donated the 27-hole facility to the Appleton Education Foundation.

“It’s humbling that Mary Beth would think of the Appleton Education Foundation as such a worthy recipient,” said Julie Krause, executive director of the foundation. The golf course, with an estimated value of more than $2.5 million, is the largest gift the foundation has ever received, she said.

An agreement for Nienhaus, 70, of Appleton to give the golf course to the AEF was finalized at the end of 2013, and was formally announced Tuesday during a news conference at the golf course. The Appleton School District and Fox Valley Technical College are collaborating with AEF to offer local students hands-on learning experiences at the facility — from small-engine repair to horticulture, agronomy, marketing and event planning.

The course will continue to be open to golfers.

Nienhaus, a longtime golf professional at Winagamie, became a partner in the business in 1972. She took over sole ownership in 1993.

She said she had a prospective buyer for the property, but by donating it to the foundation, she will preserve the legacy she’s worked to build. A board of directors will oversee the course’s operations, and it will continue as a for-profit business. Any profits will be set aside for capital improvements to the golf course, Krause said. AEF will eventually receive dividends from the course, and will use them to fund grants for educators in Appleton schools, but no AEF funds will be put toward the course.

This isn’t Nienhaus’ first contribution to AEF. In 1997, she gave the foundation one of its first major gifts — $200,000 for the renovations at Goodland Field. Nienhaus Sports Complex is now home to the Appleton West baseball, softball and soccer teams.

Her relationship with AEF didn’t end there. In 2011, she committed a matching gift of $100,000 to West for improved physical education and athletic facilities.

Appleton School District Administrator Lee Allinger said he isn’t surprised by Nienhaus’ generosity.

“Mary Beth is a person who has this incredible community vision and has really backed up her beliefs with the actions she’s taken over the years,” he said.

The possibilities

Nancy Johnshoy, Winagamie Inc. board president and AEF director, said the foundation thought long and hard about the golf course and how it would benefit local students.

“At first glance, owning a golf course operation may not seem like a natural fit for the Appleton Education Foundation, but as we thought about it and let our imaginations wander, we realized it has a natural tie-in for the school district and Fox Valley Technical College,” Johnshoy said.

Teachers from FVTC and the Appleton School District will collaborate to create learning opportunities for students at Winagamie.

Susan May, president of FVTC and a member of the Winagamie board of directors, said she’s thrilled to see students learning in a “realistic laboratory” at the golf course.

Nienhaus will continue to be involved in golf course operations as a member of the board of directors and through the junior golf academy. When she decides the time is right, Neinhaus will give AEF control of the junior golf academy. The foundation will continue the academy’s mission into the future.

With more spare time on the horizon, Nienhaus hopes to travel more during the summer, to continue volunteering and to play golf.

“I have this wonderful golf course here and I hardly play golf,” she said. “Years ago I used to play well, and then once I turned professional I gave lessons — tons of lessons, thousands of lessons over the years — and, of course, then I couldn’t do everything, so I didn’t play a lot of golf.”

When Nienhaus looks out over the expansive golf course, which opened in 1962, she is reminded of her parents.

“I see my dad (Sylvester) all the time, because he planted over 600 evergreens out here,” she said. “When he planted them they were probably three, four feet high. And now you take a look at them and they’re huge.”

The hard work ethic that drives Nienhaus came from her parents, she said. Her father spent more than 40 years at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and worked part time at Gelbe’s Nursery. Her mother, Mabel, worked a variety of jobs over the years and was employed in the pro shop at Winagamie for a time.

Enviable career

Nienhaus distinguished herself in teaching, golfing and coaching over the years.

She won the Wisconsin Women’s Public Links Golf Association Amateur Championship in 1963 and 1964. The victories helped her become Marquette University’s first female varsity student-athlete: She joined the men’s golf team in 1965.

Nienhaus was the first person to represent Marquette in intercollegiate postseason play. She won the Wisconsin State Golf Association Championship in 1968 and 1969, and was named the Wisconsin Female Golfer of the Year in 1969.

Teaching has been a passion for Nienhaus. She taught physical education at Appleton West High School for 28 years and coached the girls’ golf team for 25 years. During her tenure as a golf coach, West won four state championships. She was named the LPGA Coach of the Year in 1987 — the only high school coach ever to receive the award.

Her passions for teaching and golf led her to start the Winagamie Junior Golf Academy, which teaches the game to children. It’s funded through the Winagamie Golf Foundation and is one of the state’s largest junior golf programs. Even though she retired from the school district in 1999, Nienhaus still logs 80- to 90-hour work weeks during the golf season.

An independent person and trailblazer, Nienhaus is single and has no children. She said people at the golf course often ask where her husband is.

“They think I’m sort of a token owner or something. When I tell them I’m the sole owner I think that takes them back a little bit,” Nienhaus said.

“The cute thing I always say is because I’m so independent if I would have married and had children, then the husband clearly would have been the one to take care of the kids and make the meals and everything,” she said. “Of course, years ago that never would have happened. Nowadays it’s a more common occurrence.”

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 jsonline.com: “State offers four-week driving course, guaranteed trucking job” — Up to 300 Wisconsin residents will be able to earn a commercial driver’s license in a four-week training course and be guaranteed a trucking job through a program announced Friday by Gov. Scott Walker.

Fox Valley Technical College currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College will offer it this summer. Applicants must pass eligibility screening, and priority will be given to veterans, dislocated workers, workers receiving federal Trade Adjustment Assistance and some persons eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.

The training is free for members of the priority groups. Others will pay $2,500. People completing the training will be placed with one of three trucking firms — Schneider, of Green Bay; Roehl Transport, Marshfield; or WEL, DePere.

 

From whby.com: “FVTC hosts ag competition” – About 1,000 high school students from 70 schools are participating in an annual competition, at Fox Valley Technical College today.

It’s the career development event for the Future Farmers of America.

Agriculture department chair Randy Tenpas says the number of jobs in the industry is growing, and so is technology. He says demand for skilled workers has never been higher.

Tenpas says students are competing in 13 different areas, including veterinary, dairy and horse sciences, and forestry and wildlife.

Qualifiers will move onto the state competition in Madison. Nationals are in Louisville, Kent. in October.

 

From wbay.com: “FVTC Holds Seminar to Combat Sex Trafficking” — Grand Chute – On the heels of several local incidents in our area involving solicitation and prostitution, experts say sex trafficking is becoming more prevalent in northeast Wisconsin. Fox Valley Tech, through it’s AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program, is raising awareness of the issue through a seminar it’s holding this week.

Dozen of law enforcement agents, social workers, and those with non-profits listened as Asia Graves, a survivor of sex trafficking told her story.

“I’ve been beaten, you name it,” says Asia Graves, a victim of sex trafficking. “I’ve had my teeth broken, I’ve been beaten until I miscarried, stabbed in my face and stabbed in my stomach, you name it I’ve experienced it.”

After being sexually abused as child and living with her parents, both addicts, separately for years, Graves turned to prostitution at 15. A life she lived for about three years. It’s those experiences attendees at a seminar, put on by Fox Valley Tech’s AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program are hoping to avoid in their communities as incidents of sex trafficking or prostitution continue to rise.

Talking about sex trafficking, Lisa Schmid from FVTC says, “It is prevalent and people think it is not happening in our community and it happens in every community both big, small, tribal communities, rural, it’s apparent here as well.”

And that’s why Asia Graves tells her story. Not only is it therapeutic for her, but she also wants to help combat the problem and educate others on how to deal with victims.

Says Graves, “Hoping that they learn how to work with the victim with a better response system, not treating them like throwaways, not treating them as if they don’t exist, not treating them oh she’s a runaway so I’m not even going to bother looking for her.”

It was an eye opening reality for those here who say they want to help.

Eric Swan from the Lac Court Oreilles Tribal Police says, “Statistically it’s probably going on on our reservation and I need to know how to identify those children so I can get to them and help them.”

From postcrescent.com: “Fox Valley Technical College creates body farm for research” — Fans of the CBS drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” undoubtedly will take interest in Fox Valley Technical College’s latest venture: the creation of a cold-weather body farm.

A body farm is an outdoor research facility where forensic scientists place animal carcasses and donated human cadavers in various settings — in the open air, in a shallow grave or in a sleeping bag — to study the decomposition of bodies by digestive enzymes, bacteria, insects and scavengers.

The information can help determine the time and circumstances of death, which detectives can use to validate or refute alibis given by suspects in a crime.

Body farms are in operation in Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, but the FVTC facility will be among the best suited to study the decomposition process in the extreme cold.

Joe LeFevre, chairman of FVTC’s Forensic Science Department, said researchers might conduct experiments on how subzero temperatures mummify body tissue, whether insects inside a chest cavity can tolerate freezing, or whether scavengers like coyotes and foxes lose interest in a frozen body.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions as to what happens to (bodies) after death,” LeFevre said.

The two-acre body farm will be built as part of FVTC’s $34.8 million Public Safety Training Center on County BB at the south end of the Outagamie County Airport in Greenville. Voters approved construction of the training center in April 2012 as part of a $66.5 million referendum.

The body farm, labeled a “forensic field training” site by FVTC, will be located along the west edge of the property. It lies south of FVTC’s “clandestine grave site” area, where instructors will use animal carcasses and cadavers to train forensic scientists, police officers and police dogs to locate buried remains.

Location worries

A resident living on the east side of the airport has serious concerns with the body farm, which is scheduled to open in mid-2015.

“Are we going to have excess flies now?” Tina LeFebre asked. “Is it going to smell now when the wind blows our way? What about if somebody wants to sell their house and potential buyers find out about that? Wouldn’t they go, ‘Eww’?”

LeFebre said most of her neighbors probably don’t know about FVTC’s plans. The body farm and grave site area were not publicized as part of the referendum.

Apprehension over the body farm is one of the reasons so few of them exist, LeFevre said.

“Not a lot of people want to deal with this topic,” he said. “This is not a happy topic.”

FVTC, though, considers its site to be ideal for a body farm. For starters, it’s connected to FVTC, which is known to law enforcement agencies across the country. It’s also isolated from the public by natural topography.

“This area works perfectly because there’s such limited access to it,” LeFevre said. “You can’t get to this area without being either on airport land or our land.”

FVTC will guard the site with a 10-foot-high fence to prevent curiosity seekers and thieves from entering the facility. The fence will be topped with barbed wire and screened with privacy slats.

LeFevre said nearby residents wouldn’t smell odors from decomposing carcasses and cadavers.

“The prevailing winds will keep them more toward the airport, toward the runway where nobody is, or if they are, they’re in an airplane whipping past at a couple hundred miles an hour, so they’re not going to get that whiff,” he said.

Research facility

FVTC plans to work with a forensic anthropologist at a research institution like the University of Wisconsin or the University of Tennessee to conduct experiments and publish the findings.

“We’d be spearheading the experiments, but we’d be partnering with another school, which would probably do some of the experimental design,” LeFevre said. “There’s a lot that goes into research.”

The body farm will be modeled after the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, started by forensic anthropologist Bill Bass. The Tennessee body farm is located a few miles from downtown Knoxville.

FVTC will start its experiments with pig carcasses to ensure its practices and security measures are sound before moving to human cadavers. Pigs have body proportions and organ placements similar to humans.

LeFevre said UW-Platteville has done a few short-term experiments with pig carcasses, but it hasn’t published studies.

The FVTC body farm will consist primarily of grassland, but researchers might place a body in a shed, in a car or in an above-ground swimming pool to analyze how the variables affect decomposition. They also might replicate suicide scenarios for study.

While the farm will be primarily a research facility, FVTC will document its experiments with photographs for use in its instructional programs. FVTC has 187 students working toward an associate degree in forensic science.

Student access to the body farm will be limited to guided walking tours.

“They still need to get that odor of death,” LeFevre said. “They still need to see, in the field, what scavenger activity actually does to a body.”

The body farm also will further FVTC’s continuing-education program for law enforcement professionals. LeFevre said the CSI skills taught by FVTC will help not only police from east-central Wisconsin, but from Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul and beyond.

“We’d be bringing their expertise up to the next level,” he said. “Right now, we’re just teaching them the theoretical and showing them some photos from a crime scene. With this, we can show them a real decomposing body.”

Cadaver donations

LeFevre said he’s already fielded inquiries from people who want to donate their remains to the body farm. For some, it’s less morbid than having their bodies dissected by the medical community.

“They watch ‘CSI’ and know the way they want to go,” LeFevre said.

Deb Krsnich, a retired Appleton police sergeant, said she would consider donating her body. Before she knew about the FVTC body farm, she thought of sending her arms and legs to a facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for use in training cadaver dogs.

Leaving her body to forensic anthropology poses no ick factor for Krsnich.

“I’m not there,” she said. “Because of my Christian beliefs, that’s a body I don’t need any longer, and I’d be doing a service.”

Krsnich, 57, said the only issue with donating her body might be that local researchers, instructors and students recognize her from her police career or from FoxTal, her Black Creek training center for police dogs and their handlers.

“I’m hoping by the time that happens, there’s not too many people who are going to be utilizing the facility who go, ‘Oh, that’s Deb!’” she said.

LeFevre said FVTC will treat cadavers with respect. “This is still somebody’s loved one,” he said.

From postcrescent.com: “Fox Valley Celiacs bringing in gluten-free chef for demonstrations” — Rebecca Reilly used to skip school to stay home and cook.

“That was the time Julia Child and Graham Kerr were on television, and I was in a family where we did all the cooking,” the Massachusetts chef said. “My mother had three girls, and we were responsible for cooking because she was working, too.”

As an adult, the kitchen remained a safe haven for Reilly.

“The world was safe as long as I had my apron on,” she said.

Reilly is a classically French-trained chef with more than 20 years in signature cafés and high-end kitchens as head chef, sous chef, pastry chef and menu consultant. She also is nationally recognized as a gluten-free chef, instructor, author and food coach.

The latter is the result of learning in the mid-’90s that she, her daughter and her son all have celiac disease.

Fox Valley Celiacs support group has partnered with the Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program to bring Reilly, author of the bestselling cookbook, “Gluten Free Baking,” to Appleton on April 5. Reilly will teach gluten-free breads and desserts from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and gluten-free homemade pasta and simple meals from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Each session is $10.

Culinary arts students from FVTC will offer a gluten-free lunch between sessions for $8. Vendor booths offering gluten-free products in their stores will provide information, coupons and samples.

“The board of the Fox Valley Celiac Support Group is thrilled to be hosting chef Rebecca here in Appleton,” board member Rebecca Mailand said. “By partnering with Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program, we were able to make this a reality. Festival Foods has been a huge help as well by providing us with the ingredients chef Rebecca will use during her sessions. In addition, Festival Foods as well as Happy Bellies Bake Shop, the Free Market and Bulk Priced Foods will have vendor booths at the event.”

For Reilly, learning about celiac disease started with her son, now 22.

“My son was very sickly,” she said. “As a 5-year-old he couldn’t even walk across a basketball (court) without someone picking up and carrying him. And he couldn’t breathe. He was an emotional, physical mess.”

While allergy prick tests showed no sensitivity to gluten, blood work did.

Feeding her son gluten-free foods transformed not only his life, it also helped Reilly’s irritable bowel and made her daughter’s migraine headaches disappear.

“My son was a gift. I look at him as my gift to heal all three of us,” she said.

Reilly said she loves teaching people how to make flexible and delicious breads and pizza and more with alternative grains.

“People go, ‘Oh, my god. I can do this. I can have pumpernickel. I can have focaccia. I can have, I can have, I can have,’” she said. “When people take my class, it transforms their lives. … I am not about recipes. I’m about teaching you how to make it.”

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Skilled trades, health care jobs among hottest in Oshkosh area” — OSHKOSH — Manufacturing technology, skilled trades and health care positions are among the hottest job prospects in the Oshkosh area, local workforce development leaders say.

In a time when jobs still are hard to come by — especially for those without specialized training — there is hope for applicants who are seeking employment in some of the high-demand sectors and know where to find the necessary training for those positions.

“We’re definitely seeing manufacturing jobs still hiring,” said Brian Covey, communications director for Forward Service Corp., which runs the Winnebago County W-2 program and serves low-income families in the region. “Through W-2, what we’re seeing is a lot of care-giving (jobs).”

For example, certified nursing assistants or in-home caregivers are among the most in-demand positions, as well as construction jobs, especially with the upcoming reconstruction of a bridge along U.S. 41, Covey said.

According to state Department of Workforce Development statistics for the third quarter of 2013, the top industries by employment in Winnebago County were food services and drinking places, transportation equipment manufacturing, papermaking, administrative and support services, and educational services.

The county experienced a non-adjusted unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in December, compared to 5.8 percent statewide and 6.5 percent nationally, according to the most recent DWD estimates.

“In the manufacturing environment, a lot has changed since the baby boomers first entered the job market,” said Paul Stelter, CEO of the Neenah-based Fox Valley Workforce Development Board. “Those jobs require a lot more technical skills. As a result, the people who are looking to enter into the manufacturing industry today need at least at technical college education.

“Manufacturing isn’t that dark, dirty place that you associate with manufacturing plants of 50 years ago.”

According to data compiled from the 2012 and 2013 Fox Valley Technical College graduate employment research reports, the top job markets in the region include criminal justice and law enforcement as well as agri-business and science technology.

Also among the top industry sectors are nursing assistant, marketing, administrative professionals, electromechanical technology and welders, all of which are offered at FVTC locations in Oshkosh, said Chris Jossart, media relations manager for Fox Valley Technical College. He said welding, wood manufacturing, aviation, marketing and medical technology also are in high demand.

The system has campuses in Grand Chute and Oshkosh; regional centers in Chilton, Clintonville, Waupaca and Wautoma; and training centers in Appleton, Oshkosh and Neenah. In addition to job-specific training — much of which is offered through FVTC — many local employers are looking for workers with soft skills, such as time management, teamwork, flexibility and the ability to learn on the job.

“Employers are looking for the best fit, and the best fit includes not only the technical part but also the person’s ability to show up on time, to work well with others, to be a contributing member of the team, and all those are contributors to hiring a person,” Stelterhe said.

Nearly 16,000 people in the Oshkosh-Neenah area work in production occupations, followed by about 13,000 in office and administrative support and about 7,000 in sales and related occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Transportation and material moving, food preparation and serving, and health care practitioners and technical occupations round out the rest of the industries that employ more than 5,000 people each.

From postcrescent.com: “Fox Valley Tech opens expanded transportation center to fill industry need” — GRAND CHUTE — Automotive students at Fox Valley Technical College have made themselves at home in the newly expanded J. J. Keller Transportation Center.

With the goal of helping to meet a growing demand for automotive careers, the school enlarged the facility by more than 20,000 square feet. The $6.2 million addition created 10 learning bays for automotive programs; three drive-through learning bays for diesel programs; classrooms; an instruction bay for the school’s truck driving program; and a learning bay for a trailer technician program.

The bigger transportation center is the third of five major building projects completed at FVTC so far since 2012, when voters approved $66.5 million in spending.

Aric Van Ess, a second-year diesel technology student from Cedar Grove, likes having more room and using new tools.

“There’s a lot more activities you can work on,” Van Ess said. “You’re not all bunched up working on a truck.”

Van Ess works part-time in the industry, and he sees the same things in the classroom that he does on the job. Students work on trucks that are driven on roads, so the problems they fix in school are the same ones they would see in the real world.

Van Ess plans to take courses in the new transport trailer service technician program after he completes the diesel technology area.

The new program is possible because of the extra square footage added to the facility and was started at the request of local industries, said Dan Poeschel, associate dean at FVTC.

The referendum allowed the automotive program to double in size, accommodating every student who enrolls. In the past, officials had to put students on waiting lists because there wasn’t enough room.

Most students will have jobs lined up immediately after graduation. FVTC automotive students who graduated last year have a combined job placement rate of 98 percent, according to figures provided by the college.

Poeschel said graduates can earn starting wages of $15 per hour or higher.

“[The addition] provides education and good jobs to students coming in who can really have a lifelong career in this industry,” he said.

From woodworkingnetwork.com: “Fox Valley Technical College Approved as NKBA Accredited Provider“– The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recently announced that Fox Valley Technical College has met all requirements to become an NKBA Accredited Program provider of AAS Interior Design – Kitchen and Bath Design, and Kitchen and Bath Certificate.

NKBA Accreditation serves the professional needs of the industry and ensures consistent, quality education for students who want to become kitchen or bathroom design professionals. The NKBA currently recognizes over 40 schools in North America whose kitchen and bath curriculum meet the educational standards established by the association.

These established standards include the knowledge and skills necessary for competent practice in the profession, divided into four categories: Planning and Design, Construction/Mechanical Systems, Business Management, and Products/Materials. Each school seeking accreditation must adequately meet stringent NKBA standards in each of these areas.

These schools submit a self-study and an analysis of competencies as related to these areas of study. An onsite evaluation is conducted, consisting of classroom observations; a curriculum-review meeting with faculty; a presentation of projects; and interviews with students, faculty and administration. The educational institution must have accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or a provincial ministry of education in Canada.

NKBA Accredited Programs are evaluated with respect to mission, administration, curriculum, faculty, and resources to determine eligibility and the students’ aptitude toward fulfilling the Association’s required competencies. Industry professionals evaluate student work samples as a subjective measure of the program. Programs that meet the qualifications for accreditation or a preliminary status of supported are published in print and on the NKBA website.

Each year, the Association monitors the progress of these schools with the submission of student work samples, based on the NKBA Student Design Competition. This process provides an outcome-based assessment to the schools. Accredited Programs have a reevaluation period of seven years.

Fox Valley Technical College earned NKBA Accreditation by demonstrating that it meets these requirements, which represent the basis of a program the NKBA considers essential for quality education. Each student must complete classroom work as well as internships that enhance and extend the classroom experiences. These internships are monitored by the educational institution, which makes certain that they meet the NKBA’s required student competencies. Programs accredited by the National Kitchen & Bath Association must have an NKBA Certified advisor or faculty member.

From postbulletin.com: “U of M, ISU students on top team at Midwest Dairy Challenge” — APPLETON, Wis. — Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota students were among the first place finishers in the Midwest Dairy Challenge.

The 10th annual Midwest Dairy Challenge attracted nearly 60 students from 13 college dairy programs to the event hosted by Fox Valley Technical College.

This is the first time Fox Valley Technical College hosted the event, which has been in Wisconsin three other times.

“The Dairy Challenge is such a positive experience for the college students involved, in developing analytical, teamwork, communication and dairy management skills,” said Kevin Rauchholz, event co-chairman and ag instructor at Fox Valley Technical College. “Students learn how to tie farm management decisions with economics, and it’s important to get students and industry together. Students make many good connections through Dairy Challenge.”

Dairy Challenge students work in teams to evaluate and provide recommendations for an operating dairy farm. Participants worked in mixed-university teams of four or five students and assessed all farm operations, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction and animal health. Students collaborated on a 20-minute team presentation that detailed observations and suggestions to a panel of judges.

Host farms were Sugar Creek Farms, New London, and Country Aire Dairy of Greenleaf.

Participating universities and technical schools included Dordt College, Fox Valley Technical College, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Lakeshore Technical College, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, Purdue University, South Dakota State University, Southwest Technical College, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Platteville and University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Wisconsin dairy professionals presented educational seminars to help students prepare for their Dairy Challenge task and gain more real-world experience. Sessions were presented by:

Judges selected two teams as first place winners.

On Farm 1, team Cooperative Resources International was awarded first place. Team members were Jessie Hammerand, ISU; Jamie Pfaff, UW-River Falls; Andrew Plumski, University of Minnesota; Ryan Pralle, UW-Madison; and Heather Smith, Purdue.

On Farm 2, judges selected team Renaissance Nutrition for the top award. Individuals included Kristopher Boucher of Kansas State; Veronica Hilton, Purdue; Kristin Leiteritz, Lakeshore Technical College; Max Luchterhand, UW-Madison; and Kara Uhlenhake, Ohio State.

A complete list of Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge contest participants and their placing can be found at www.dairychallenge.org/mw_event.php.

From postcrescent.com: “FVTC hosts Midwest Dairy Challenge for college and technical school students” – NEW LONDON — The temperature hovered just below zero Thursday morning as two buses of students from colleges and technical schools in Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin filed into a barn at Sugar Creek Farm.

They were there for the Midwest Dairy Challenge, a competition featuring teams of students who conduct a detailed analysis of farming operations, said Kevin Rauchholz, an instructor at Fox Valley Technical College.

Students walk through dairy farms, examining everything from cow comfort, feed quality and ventilation to milking parlor management. With their observations and the farm’s financial information, the teams put together a presentation on what the farm is doing well, and areas where it could improve.

FVTC hosted the challenge this year, ushering students to Sugar Creek Farm and Country Aire Acres in Greenleaf.

At Sugar Creek Farm — an operation with 1,200 cows — students walked through the foggy barns, picking up feed and sifting through it. They counted how many cows were in a given space, and measured how wide the lanes were for the cows to walk through.

Outside, they examined feed storage before moving inside to the milking parlor. Cows stood above the students in the parlor waiting to be milked. Walls of 20 automatic milking machines on the right and left made way for a lane in between, where two workers cleaned the cows’ udders and attached the milkers.

Students milled down the gangway, watching how the udders were prepped and timing how long it took a group of cows to finish milking.

Matthew Bull competed in the challenge four years ago. Now he works for Cargill, and returned to the contest this year as a volunteer.

Bull said the experience gives students an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned and make connections with potential employers.

“Here with the students today are a host of industry professionals representing different companies … so that exposure with the students is really beneficial for them as they enter their junior and senior years in college and some into the workforce later on this year,” Bull said.

John Schmidt, another Cargill representative, said the challenge showcases various career paths in agriculture, which helps students determine what they’re interested in.

In potential employees, Schmidt said he looks for students who are inquisitive, professional and confident.

“We want people who have confidence in what they know, but not so much that they’re afraid to ask questions if they don’t know something,” Schmidt said.

After two hours on the farm, students spent the rest of the day working on their projects. They presented them Friday.

No matter who won, the students walked away with appreciation for the event.

“Today was a great learning experience,” said Darcy Steffes, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. “It’s nice to go to different farms and get a look at what you can help them with so they can be more profitable in the future.”

From thenorthwestern.com: “Oshkosh schools working to build apprenticeship” – After years of lagging behind other districts, the Youth Apprenticeship program in Oshkosh is getting a push from the school district and chamber of commerce to offer high school students work experience in a variety of careers.

The Oshkosh Area School District hasn’t historically had a strong apprenticeship program, because the curriculum wasn’t developed enough to meet their requirements or there weren’t employers to sponsor them.

Still, businesses in Oshkosh have consistently been involved in employing students through cooperative education programs, or co-ops, Julie Mosher, OASD director of curriculum and assessment, said. The youth apprenticeship program asks them to take that partnership to the next level.

Wisconsin’s YA program is part of a statewide school-to-work initiative and integrates school-based and work-based learning. Students are simultaneously enrolled in academic classes and employed locally under the supervision of a skilled, worksite mentor.

Oshkosh’s effort to expand apprenticeships comes at the same time that Gov. Scott Walker is pushing to increase funding for the programs. Walker announced in January that Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship, or YA, program would receive additional grants totaling more than $226,000, and Cooperative Educational Services Agency 6 in Oshkosh received $18,747 of those funds.

CESA 6 serves 42 schools in seven counties to coordinate programs and services between schools, districts and the state.

Tania Kilpatrick, CESA 6 career and technical education coordinator, said YA is an important opportunity for students to test drive a career.

“When you’re looking at a workforce, economics, building the pipeline of future employees,” she said. “Any opportunity that you can give kids options for education I think is important.”

Changes to the requirements for apprenticeship programs have changed, while the district’s strategic plan has an increased focus on ensuring students are college, career and community ready.

“With the new checklist and the new requirements that matched our curriculum and matched our philosophy a lot better,” Mosher said. “We felt that we could possibly start getting employers to match up with it.”

With that in mind, the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce stepped in to help create partnerships with local businesses.

Two apprenticeships were recently secured with Bergstrom Automotive.

Hands-on learning

Marc Stanga, a senior at Oshkosh West, is an apprentice at the Bergstrom GM division in Oshkosh. He works for a few hours each day after school and on Saturdays, where he’s learning alongside a mentor to become a GM-certified auto technician.

So far the 17-year-old has learned how to do oil and headlight changes, check fluids and more.

“It’s teaching me the basics of being an auto mechanic,” Stanga said, adding the mentor has been a key part to what he’s learning.

Stanga plans to attend Fox Valley Technical College, where he’s enrolled in the GM program.

“My whole life I’ve wanted to be an auto mechanic,” he said. He thinks the youth apprenticeship will be a big help to getting a job in the future and hopes to receive a scholarship from the program as well.

Stanga said he’s loving his apprenticeship because it’s really hands on.

“It’s like a paid internship,” he said. “You really can see if you really like to do what you were planning on doing.”

Stanga is also working on live cars in a lab at West for the curriculum part of his apprenticeship.

The college-level learning uses standards for 11 different areas that are put out from the national Automotive Service Excellence Certification, Mark Boushele, transportation technology instructor at West, said.

“The homework is all right in front of you,” he said. “So you actually see … the progress that you’re doing and working with.”

Apprenticeships have benefits for both students and employers.

Students gain a valuable, real-world connections between the curriculum and work. There’s no bad internship experience because of the skills one learns during it, Mosher and Patti Andresen-Shew, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce education and workforce coordinator, said.

Even if students end up not wanting to go into the career, it teaches the importance of showing up on time, flexibility and adaptability, as well as how to work under pressures and stress, Mosher said. Plus, learning they don’t like something can be just as important.

A long-term investment

YA is a heavier load for both students and employers than co-ops because of the mentorship requirement and need to complete a checklist of requirements laid out by the state. Many different scheduling factors have to line up in order for it to work, Mosher said, which is why co-ops have worked out better in Oshkosh in the past.

Juniors and seniors have to apply for the program, and then they have to nail an interview with the employer to get the position. The courses for the program have to fit with the high schools’ schedules, and that has to line up with lab, clinical or work schedules. Students also need to complete a certain amount of hours working on the job.

“All these stars have to align,” Mosher said.

Though it’s a commitment for employers to train, mentor and pay the students, in many cases it’s a long-term investment.

The State Department of Workforce Development said 85 percent of YA students are offered jobs at the end of apprenticeships, which can be more effective than finding workers through recruiters or advertising. Employers have said it also inspires current employees to be even better workers.

“We like to hire locally and have had great success hiring people early in their work life, who can then learn and become a part of our culture and grow with our company over the course of their career,” Tim Bergstrom, President and COO of Bergstrom Automotive, said in a statement.

“The Chamber and our local school system have come together to provide us with a unique opportunity to find just this type of candidate to become a potential long-term team member,” Bergstrom said.

YA is not limited to any one kind of career or student, Mosher said. There’s room for all Oshkosh students, whether they go on to a two or four-year school, into the military or directly into the workforce.

Mosher and Shew would like to see the program expand to include more career paths. Agriculture, communications, tourism, and information technology are just some of the possible programs listed on the Department of Workforce Development website.

Shew and Mosher are actively looking for more employers to participate in YA, as well as students who want to explore their interests in an apprenticeship setting.

Career exploration is the most important aspect of YA, they said.

“We want our students to explore their career options and have a plan,” she said. “That plan may change, but at least they have a plan and they’ve done some thinking behind it.”

From woodworkingnetwork.com: “Teaching Wood Students Success at Fox Valley Tech” – By Matt Schumake -With each lesson in the Wood Manufacturing Technology program at Fox Valley Technical College, students routinely pull out calipers to check their work.

The goal: “To develop their sense of precision,” says instructor Mark Lorge. And paired with the students’ broad understanding of secondary wood processing, it creates a well-rounded knowledge base, which Lorge says is essential for a career in the industry.

An alumnus of the program, Lorge graduated in 1983 and went on to work with production and millwork companies such as Morgan Products Ltd., Elipticon Wood Products and Valley Planing Mill. Last year, Lorge celebrated his 20th year of instruction at Fox Valley Technical College.

Associate instructor Glenn Koerner leads the program with Lorge. Also a graduate, Koerner returned to Fox Valley Tech after more than 14,000 hours of industry experience.

The Wood Manufacturing Technology program is housed at Fox Valley Tech’s S.J. Spanbauer Center in Oshkosh, WI. There, Lorge and Koerner work with approximately 20 students each year, guiding them through five nine-week units of instruction.

“Some students come in with no prior understanding,” Lorge says. During the first nine weeks, they are introduced to the groundwork of every project — planning. They learn to read blueprints, prepare a parts list and production estimate. They also learn basic machining and wood identification.

The second block further develops students’ understanding of material, terminology, tooling and processes. They are introduced to an advanced level of setup and operation on woodworking machines, and demonstrate their psychomotor and cognitive competency of the process through a series of operation exercises.

It is during the third block that students become familiar with basic cabinetmaking processes. They design doors and drawers, build jigs and fixtures, and process materials to create laminate countertops. Cabinets completed in the program have been donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Advanced Skills

After approximately 36 weeks, students learn the principles of veneering, advanced machine joinery and CNC routing.

Through a partnership with Komo Machinery, the Wood Manufacturing Technology program has been provided with a VR510 Mach 1 S router, software for 21 seats and upgrades of RouterCIM and two seats of AutoNEST applications to operate the machinery.

“Most students embrace the CNC technology with enthusiasm,” Lorge says. By writing G-code, programming the router, setting tools, developing multiple tool programs and creating a gasketed fixture, students gain an understanding of the machine and its capabilities.

With these skills, the hiring rate for students is currently at 100 percent, Lorge says; over the past five years, the program has witnessed a 94 percent employment rate for graduates.

“A company needs employees who possess technical ability and a good work ethic — good training is one of the keys to success,” says Len Riebau, owner of Wisconsin-based WDL, and a member of the Fox Valley Tech advisory board. Industry feedback also has helped the program stay successful and relevant to today’s needs, he adds.

Currently, Lorge and Koerner are in the process of revising the curriculum for web-based delivery and to require tablet access for each student by August 2014. The two also are working with high schools on a curriculum with transferable credit to Fox Valley Tech, and to develop a basic-skills certificate program for students who cannot commit to the year-long program.

Under Lorge’s and Koerner’s direction, Fox Valley Technical College’s Wood Manufacturing Technology program already has received notice for its efforts. Not only is the school a past recipient of the “Educator of the Year Award” by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association, but its students frequently receive awards from the Association of Woodworking and Furniture Suppliers.

From wisconsinagconnection.com: “Fox Valley Tech to host Dairy Challenge Competition” — College students from 10 states will be heading to Appleton next week to participate in the Midwest Dairy Challenge, being hosted this winter by Fox Valley Technical College. Contest organizers say teams from 18 different schools will be competing in the February 5-7 event, which helps college students planning a career in the dairy industry put their skills to the test.

Each team of students will inspect an actual operating dairy by analyzing real farm data and interviewing the farm’s owners. They will then develop recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health and housing to help the farm optimize performance and profitability.

The Midwest event is one of four regional contests sponsored each year by North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge. Over its 13-year history, the contest has helped prepare over 4,000 students for careers as dairy owners or managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals.

The 2014 national event will be April 3-5 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 

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