March 11, 2014
From wiscnews.com: “Schrofer earns third in apprentice competition” — Dave Schrofer of Hill’s Wiring, Inc. took third place in the electrical category during the 2014 ABC of Wisconsin Skill Competition held Feb. 25 in Green Bay.
Schrofer, currently attending Madison College, was one of 25 ABC of Wisconsin apprentices from throughout the state who demonstrated their knowledge and craft skills in the competition, which included a four-hour practical and a two-hour written exam.
Apprentices worked on projects from specifications and blueprints; they focused on performing assigned tasks while employers, instructors, judges and others looked on. The competitors were scored on skill, workmanship, safety, and efficiency. The written, safety, and practical scores were then combined to determine the top three competitors in each trade.
From thedailypage.com: “Madison College and the Literacy Network team up to help a wide range of students with ESL” — They are Syrian immigrants and Bhutanese refugees. Spouses of visiting professors from Pakistan and au pairs from Ecuador. Studious mothers of 12 from Somalia whose turn it is, finally, to attend class.
Some, highly educated in their home country, arrive with advanced degrees. Others have never set foot inside a school and struggle to read and write in their native language.
Step into an English as a Second Language classroom at Madison College’s downtown campus, and you’ll find learners from 10 or 15 countries, and as many stations in life, practicing together.
“The clock is on the wall.” “Epiphane is Akugbe’s brother.” Or in higher levels, “Had I known you like reggae, I would have invited you.”
One of these students is Gilson Batista, who in just over a year has progressed from ESL level 1 to 5 (out of 6). Batista is here thanks to his wife, Sara, who found out about Madison College’s tuition-free, non-credit ESL courses and suggested he attend.
The two met in Batista’s hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, four years ago. A longtime Madison resident, Sara was there studying Capoeira and improving her Portuguese. He had just begun studying philosophy at universidade and was working as a book binder and Capoeira teacher.
After marrying, the young couple settled in Madison. It was Batista’s first time in the U.S. He spoke a little English and Spanish, having taken several semesters of each in middle and high school, but not enough to resume life where he had left off.
Madison College’s School of Academic Advancement, where a third of the course offerings are ESL classes (others cater to GED/HSED students), is a major resource for new residents like Batista.
Another is the Literacy Network of Dane County, which provides small-group and one-on-one support to adult learners working toward their literacy goals.
For some, the goal is understanding their child’s teacher or pediatrician. Others want to find work to feed their families. Many just want to shake the paralyzing feeling of isolation and be a part of a community again. And then there are learners like Batista, who long to go back to school and earn a degree.
A partnership arose between the two agencies in 2011. In the pilot program, Literacy Network placed a tutor in the ESL classes of two Madison College instructors, Judy Emmrich and Ryan Roling.
The idea was for the classroom tutors, or CRTs as they are known, to play the role of teacher’s aide, giving learners the kind of individualized attention not usually available in most technical college settings. They might lead half the class in a speaking exercise, float the room to field questions, or give feedback to each student on completed homework.
Emmrich and Roling became strong advocates for the Classroom Tutor Program, and it quickly expanded. In its second year, 50 volunteers served 911 hours.
Emmrich, a teacher here for 12 years, praises the individual attention that students gain. “The tutoring has increased the retention in my classes and has helped to strengthen the strong sense of community.” Further, she notes, the CRTs “bring many rich and varied experiences into the room.”
Last year, 27 tutors from Literacy Network served 1,112 hours in Madison College’s ESL classes. Many are UW-Madison students, who find they get as much out of the experience by learning about other cultures and developing skills for their future.
Amy Krill, an AmeriCorps member and former classroom tutor who works with both agencies, manages the program. Literacy Network supports her in tutor recruitment, training and coordination. Both agencies provide office space, phones and supplies.
While Madison College would like to see more ESL students advance into credit courses, national statistics show the odds are against them. According to the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, only about 10% of non-credit ESL students make the transition to credit ESL and even fewer continue on to vocational or academic programs.
But to gauge the success of an ESL program by looking solely at college engagement would be a mistake, says Chris Vandall, dean of the School of Academic Advancement.
“You have to look at the goal of the student,” he says. It may not be to get into an occupational program or earn a degree. Even if it were, for many that’s impossible financially.
“We lose a lot of our students because they have to go and get a job just to pay the bills,” says Vandall.
But then there are more resource-rich students like Batista, who have a fighting chance of college success. Now that he is in ESL 5, Batista is eligible to take the COMPASS, the college entrance exam used by Madison College to test readiness.
Eventually, he’d like to take credit courses through Madison College, then transfer to a UW-Madison humanities program. He’s nothing if not motivated, taking summer courses, showing up before class for help and practicing conversation in the downtown campus’ Learning Center. Batista takes basic reading, writing and math classes here too, also offered tuition-free.
“You have to work hard,” he says, but if you do, “you get what you want to get.”
Or, as an adage often recited in language classes goes, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
February 25, 2014
From wnflam.com: “Shortage of qualified manufacturing, construction workers” – As the economy improves, many parts of Wisconsin are in need of qualified builders and skilled manufacturing employees. Those companies often look to the state’s apprenticeship program to fill their needs — but the apprenticeship pool has gotten smaller. State officials said there were almost 9,800 apprenticeships in the various building trades last year — down from almost 16,000 in 2001.
The Wisconsin State Journal said it has become more of a challenge to get young people to consider apprenticeships, despite the need for skilled workers. Madison electrical contractor Mike Pohlman said his company does a lot of outreach to schools — and some schools don’t seem to want to direct students to the building trades. Madison College apprenticeship manager Jim Cook the situation has improved in Dane County because of a recent construction boom. He says the demand for apprentice services has not been this strong since World War Two.
February 24, 2014
From madison.com: “As trades rebound, demand for apprentices grows” — By Dennis Punzel – If Donald Trump hosted “Apprentice Wisconsin,” he’d have to change his catchphrase from “You’re fired” to “You’re hired.”
As the economy slowly pulls out of its funk, the dormant construction industry is starting to experience a revival. And as construction cranes sprout up in the skyline, the demand for skilled workers across the spectrum of construction trades also is ascending.
“The problem the last several years has been a shortage of work for contractors in the construction industry,” said Wayne Belanger of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin. “Now, it’s a shortage of workers. It’s critical.”
And when construction companies need skilled workers, they turn to the state’s venerable apprenticeship program to fill the void.
Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program, founded in 1911, was the first of its kind in the nation and led to the creation of the state’s technical school system.
“Wisconsin apprenticeship is still considered the leading model in the country,” said Jim Cook, apprenticeship manager at Madison Area Technical College. “In Wisconsin, everybody is at the table — employers, colleges, state government, labor organizations, employer associations.
“Apprenticeship here has survived all the economic and social upheavals of the last century. And because it’s done that, it’s going to survive for a long time.”
The most recent economic downturn, however, did take a toll on the system. As construction projects dried up, many firms had trouble finding jobs for their established journeyman workers and had no need to take on apprentices.
ABC’s apprentice numbers around the state plummeted from around 1,200 in 2006 to just a few hundred. The group sponsors apprenticeships in 12 trades, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).
“I don’t want to even think about how low it was,” Belanger said. “We’re back to 850 now. We’re on the rebound. It seems like there’s a pent-up demand, and people are putting projects together again.
“The trouble is that a lot of people in the trades have either retired or gone on to something else, and they’re not coming back. That leaves a huge void pretty much at all levels because they haven’t hired new people in the last five years.”
Statewide, the number of apprentices in all trades has dropped from 15,767 in 2001 to 9,793 in 2013, according to the state Department of Workforce Development Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS). In the construction trades, the numbers have fallen from 8,890 in 2001 to 4,843 last year.
Belanger said the recovery has yet to hit many parts of the state, but that Madison is booming and the Fox Valley and Milwaukee are showing signs of life.
“In Dane County, there’s going to be a construction boom this year,” said Cook, noting that apprenticeships are up about 10 percent with 600 in the program at MATC. “The drive right now for economic development is fever pitch. The only other time we’ve seen this was around World War II, where you had this incredible need and a skilled worker shortage.”
One of the biggest challenges is convincing young people to look into apprenticeships after being pointed toward the four-year college route most of their lives.
“We do a lot of outreach to schools around the area and have more success at some than others,” said Mike Pohlman, president of Nickles Electric. “Some schools don’t seem to want to point kids to the trades.
“We certainly don’t dissuade kids from going to college. We always tell them the trades are another option after you graduate. We’re open to getting a kid into our program that has a four-year college degree.”
One who took that route is Pohlman’s son, Kaleb. After graduating from Marshall High School, he studied electrical engineering at UW-Milwaukee for two years before transferring to UW-Madison, where he earned a degree in civil engineering in 2009.
But with the job market dried up, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue an electrical apprenticeship. He’s finishing up the fifth year of the program and just took the state exam with the hope of gaining journeyman status.
“They’re both gratifying,” Kaleb Pohlman, 28, said of his dual accomplishments. “When I got done with college I was like, ‘Wow, I did it.’ It was a long time and a lot of hard work and when I got done I felt great. Learning this and getting through this apprenticeship is just as much, if not more gratifying.
“I feel like I can do almost anything in the electrical trade. I can bend that conduit, I can run that wire, I can put that piece of switch gear up. You start feeling like you can do anything.”
Kaleb Pohlman’s goal is to use both parts of his education by working about five years in the field and then moving into project management.
“I went to school for a reason, and I did this for a reason,” he said. “I’ve put myself in a pretty unique situation that I think makes me a little more valuable.
“There’s a need for people who can do this stuff. In the next couple years as the baby boomers start retiring, the workforce is going to drop like crazy. There’s not as many people who do trades. That should bode well for people of my generation. If people want to do this, there should be a future in it.”
Apprenticeships, of course, are nothing new, as they date back to the middle ages. Ben Franklin was a printing apprentice; Henry Ford a machinist apprentice.
The state program offers apprenticeships in three broadly defined areas — construction trades, industrial/manufacturing trades and service trades.
Unlike their college-bound brethren, who frequently build up huge debts going to school, apprentices earn while they learn. Employer sponsors are required to pay their apprentices, starting at half the journeyman worker rate for that trade, with scheduled raises as they continue through the program.
Apprenticeships last three to five years with apprentices spending about 90 percent of the time on the job and 10 percent in the classroom. In addition to paying apprentices, many sponsors will also pick up all or part of the costs of tuition and books for the classroom part of the deal.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship and any licensing requirements, the apprentice receives a state certificate and a journeyman license and goes to work for the sponsoring firm. The construction trades tend to pay the highest, with the base pay for a construction worker at just under $33 per hour.
“It’s a great program,” said Greg Jones, CEO of Dave Jones Inc. “As a plumber, after a five-year program you can be making $70,000 a year with no student debt.”
Jones, 32, completed his apprenticeship in 2004. His father, Dave Jones, also went through the apprenticeship program and founded the company in 1977. The company now has 220 employees and 34 apprentices.
Phil Klahn, 23, got a head start on the five-year apprenticeship he is now finishing up when he started working at Dave Jones Plumbing part-time through a school-work program at Oregon High School.
“The trades were something I was always looking into,” Klahn said. “I wanted to work with my hands. I didn’t really think I could sit behind a desk my entire life.”
Klahn said that, like most high school graduates, he felt the pressure to go to college, but the work-study program opened his eyes to other options. And unlike many of his former classmates, he’s finishing his education with no student loans.
“I was lucky because I knew right away this was what I wanted to do,” said Klahn, who hopes to someday become a project manager or field superintendent. “Everybody thinks that plumbing is backed-up sewers and leaky faucets and leaky pipes. There is a service end to it, but right now I’m working on a 12-story apartment building in downtown Madison. There’s a lot more to it than people understand.”
Klahn’s advice to young people pondering their future?
“I just say keep your mind open to the apprenticeship program,” he said. “It might not be for everybody, but I tell people to at least look into it.”
Mike Pohlman of Nickles Electric thinks that message is spreading, and he emphasizes that the trades are actively recruiting a diverse workforce.
“This whole industry is changing,” said Pohlman, who began his apprenticeship in 1979 and rose through the ranks to become company president. “People are understanding that the trades are a pretty good option these days.
“Our city’s going to keep growing, and we’re going to need people to build it.”
February 3, 2014
From dailyunion.com: “Sen. Tammy Baldwin tours MATC-Fort, touts GREEN Act” – By Ryan Whisner – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin visited Madison Area Technical College campuses in both Fort Atkinson and Madison Friday to discuss her new legislation aimed at job training and workforce readiness for high-skilled jobs in clean energy.
The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act allocates competitive grant funding for clean energy career- and technical-training programs so that students are better trained for post-secondary education and better equipped for the high-skilled “green collar” jobs of the future.
“I’m excited about it because we know this is an area where there is job growth that is outperforming job growth throughout the United States,” Baldwin said.
She said more than 3 million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability. That is more than the number of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry.
Additionally, Baldwin noted that the jobs created in the clean energy economy pay better than the average American job, with compensation rates 13-percent higher than the national average.
“What the GREEN act focuses on is partnerships between secondary schools and post-secondary schools to actually plant the seed of the potential of these careers earlier,” the senator said.
Both through her campaign for U.S. Senate and as a senator, Baldwin said, she has traveled the state visiting manufacturing and other sites where inspiring things are happening.
Specifically, she recalled visiting manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and other green energy sources.
“I talk at these sites about the employment future,” Baldwin said. “One of the things I hear frequently are that the local high school students are looking elsewhere and are not necessarily planning to have careers in the industries that have supported their communities for generations.”
The senator noted that a lot of people are saying that the conversation has to start earlier, even in middle school.
“We’re seeing some really promising outcomes when the conversation does start earlier,” she said, citing examples of schools that have added curriculum through which students can earn technical college or university credit and others that have started energy efficiency and renewable energy class work.
“Part of the bill I’ve introduced focuses on that type of continuing curriculum,” Baldwin said. “It would begin earlier and provide opportunities to expose people at a younger age to the advanced industry around them and the green energy job possibilities and really to establish partnerships between the high schools and technical colleges of our state.”
The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools or high schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.
Baldwin said the intention is for students to be able to be actively involved in the installation and maintenance and analysis of how effective the systems are as part of their green collar career tracks.
“It becomes a teaching and learning opportunity,” she said, noting that in some cases, the students write the grants. “We think it is an exciting way to get young people interested at an earlier age.”
Baldwin said her purpose in introducing the bill was to help address the ongoing economic issues.
“There is no greater challenge for our nation or for our state than to get our economy back to full strength,” the senator said. “We know the hits we’ve taken in recent years, whether it’s recession-based or because of other policies.”
She noted that manufacturing, in particular, has taken a huge hit.
“We’ve always made things in Wisconsin and we want to see a clear path back to the forefront, with an emphasis on clean, renewable energy,” Baldwin said. “You are in the front line and I’m really excited to hear more about what you are doing here.”
She noted that it was great to be at the Fort Atkinson campus of Madison College, where so much is happening in terms of preparing students for these types of such green-collar jobs.
“Sometimes I think we talk about this too narrowly,” she said.
During her visit at the Fort Atkinson campus, she spoke with instructors and students involved in renewable energy, transportation and manufacturing. Specific areas highlighted included hybrid vehicle automotive technical training, compressed natural gas technology and renewable energy (wind and solar energy).
Also, Jefferson City Administrator Tim Freitag and Mayor Dale Oppermann were on hand to discuss the recent installation of a solar farm by Half Moon Ventures of Chicago in the city’s North Business Park.
The senator also visited the campus’ state-of-the-art welding labs, where students are involved in learning greener manufacturing processes into the future.
“It is very exciting speaking to both the instructors and the students who are very optimistic about this future of this sector of economy,” Baldwin said after the campus tour.
The senator said she is proud of Wisconsin’s technical colleges for being the “unsung heroes” across the state.
“Madison College is no exception to that rule; in fact, it is a leader among them,” Baldwin said. “In our changing economy and as we have been struggling to recover from a deep recession, they have played such a critical role in helping returning students retool their skills for advanced manufacturing jobs in the future, but they also really are being focused on having the students career-ready on the day they graduate.”
She said it is filling an important need.
“There also are tremendous partnerships with the private sector making sure they are relevant to the needs of employers all around,” Baldwin said.
Following her stop in Fort Atkinson, the senator also visited the Commercial Avenue campus in Madison to tour the solar instructional labs and learn about the net-zero energy home project that the college and the City of Madison Community Development Authority have teamed up with to support the development of net-zero energy performing homes in the Allied Drive neighborhood of Madison.
Baldwin also has visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay and Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids to discuss the GREEN Act.
January 21, 2014
From wrn.com: “Capitol ceremony honors MLK” – Wisconsin’s official Martin Luther King Day celebration took place in the Capitol rotunda Monday, and there was a call to action from the event’s keynote speaker, Madison College President Jack E. Daniels. “The achievement gap within our Madison schools in unacceptable,” Daniels said, noting that fifty percent of black students in Madison do not graduate high school on time, and that many African-American adults fail to achieve degrees and marketable skills.
“Dr. King had organized the Poor Peoples Campaign in 1968, in an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States,” Daniels said. “Forty-six years ago, that was the vision. Economic justice must become the reality today.”
This was the 34th annual official state tribute and economy honoring the slain civil rights leader, on the 85th anniversary of King’s birth. The event included recipients of the state’s annual MLK Heritage Awards, Anita Herrera, Ronald C. Dunlap, Dr. Luiz “Tony” Baez and, posthumously, Dr. Eugene Farley.
January 9, 2014
From channel3000.com: “Madison College works to close job training gap” — A survey of 341 Wisconsin CEOs reveals a growing concern about finding enough skilled employees to fill job vacancies and facilitate growth.
December 10, 2013
From thefabricator.com: “Press brake training helps build a foundation for success” – Robbins Manufacturing of Fall River, Wis., has invested in an extensive training program, including machine-specific training, especially on the press brake. The company also has invested heavily in new technology, including a brake with automatic tool change. Both investments are paying off.
During a given day, the 17 press brake technicians in Robbins Manufacturing’s bending department form an impressive range of materials, on a range of machines—from 20-gauge to 1.25-inch-thick mild steel, bent on equipment from a 55-ton electric brake to a 320-ton hydraulic system (see Figures 1 and 2).
By the end of the year, the company expects to install a new press brake with automatic tool change capability. The controller downloads programs, and the system’s mechanization automatically sets up the punches and dies for a job. And thanks to sensors that detect the bend angle in real time, the first part should be a good part. An operator should be able to perform a job consisting of, say, five pieces, then another job of a dozen workpieces, and so on, with mere seconds of changeover time in between. Managers expect the new technology to really help their efforts to reduce batch sizes, to ensure workpieces reach the weld cells at the right time. No one wants a welder waiting around for a missing component.
Here’s the rub: The Fall River, Wis., contract fabricator plans to put one of its most talented, experienced operators on the new press brake. At the same time, the shop has invested in cross-training. The company has worked with Madison Area Technical College and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International® (FMA) to provide classroom training on various topics. This includes a comprehensive certificate program on the intricacies of press brake operation.
Some may purchase a new machine tool to deal with the lack of skilled labor available. It’s not an ideal situation; managers are just adapting to a business reality. The people at Robbins, though, are tackling the skilled-labor crisis a little differently.
The art of improvement in manufacturing often involves identifying a constraint, discovering why it’s a constraint, then devising ways to eliminate it. Robbins enjoyed a busy time earlier this year, but as capacity levels increased, inefficiencies became glaringly apparent, especially in bending. The press brake department needed to increase its throughput.
The problem, sources said, was that certain operators learned on specific machines and became specialists on that equipment. The company has different brands of press brakes, and each has its own control-interface idiosyncrasies—nothing dramatic, but just enough to throw off throughput goals on a busy day (seeFigure 3).
“We were struggling with the everyday logistics of running the shop,” said Eric Parks, plant manager. “When people were sick or on vacation during a busy time, we ran into constraints that seemed to be avoidable if we had training.”
Up until this point, Robbins’ training regimen had been mostly hands-on. A new employee would shadow an experienced operator and be trained to run a range of products on one machine. But that hands-on training didn’t necessarily cover why a certain forming program worked the way it did. Knowing the reasoning behind forming would give an operator a good foundation for learning how to operate every brake on the floor.
Robbins employs press brake operators in their 20s, 60s, and every age and experience level in between. The company tends to hire brake operators based in part on their blueprint reading capability. Operators may have experience in other trades, be it construction or carpentry, but if they can read a blueprint, managers figure these employees have a good foundation for learning the sheet metal bending craft.
“We generally taught our operators how to bend a family of products,” said Travis DeBussey, fabrication manager. “They understand how to make a group of parts at a specific machine. And in the past, unfortunately, that’s where we’ve stopped. With experience, they evolve to the next step and start to visualize a new setup, so they can bend a part that they’ve never seen before.” But he added that, until now, the company hadn’t offered formal classroom training.
A Common Language
Technical aptitude—knowing what has to be done—hasn’t been a problem. Instead, it was about the why, and about communicating that reasoning in a common language, be it bend radius, bend angle, bend allowance, bend deduction, tangent point, outside setback, or any other term in sheet metal bending. No matter the operator, press brake make and model, or company, everyone should speak the same bending language.
Many aspects of brake setup have become automated. Software can calculate the bend allowance and deduction and, ultimately, determine the correct die opening and punch for specific bends. But why is that die opening the way it is for a particular job? Why is the minimum flange length this measurement for this workpiece? Why is the radius pitch (the distance between hits made when bump-bending a large radius) specified this way? Why exactly does a bend become “sharp” at 63 percent of the material thickness, and why can’t you put a sharper radius in the bend without digging a ditch into the bend line?
“We’ve always had press brake operators, turret press operators, and laser operators,” said Parks. “We’re starting to migrate toward having fabricators.”
The ultimate goal is to have a flexible workforce capable of operating any machine in the fabrication area. So managers reached out to Madison Area Technical College. MATC’s outreach program, through grants, partially funded Robbins’ training initiative, which included a press brake operator certificate program from FMA. As part of this program, Steve Benson, president of Salem, Ore.-based ASMA LLC (and frequent contributor to this magazine), conducted a training program over two weekends in August. Several days focused on laser and punch press operation, but most instruction focused on the press brake.
The 20-person class had many of the company’s brake operators, but also other machine operators, including several turret operators who had never operated a press brake before. Most attendees passed the certificate course’s press brake exam with flying colors.
This isn’t to say the exam, or the training course, is a cakewalk. As Parks explained, even the shop’s most experienced operators learned something new. “Some of the more experienced people were reluctant because they’ve been [operating a brake] for a long time, and they understand how to do it. But they picked up on quite a few things, including some of the basic foundations, including some of the math that showed why they do what they do.”
Read more from The Fabricator
December 10, 2013
From thecountrytoday.com: “New direction: Madison College focusing on farm business management” – REEDSBURG — Madison College officials are revamping a nearly dormant agriculture program to focus on farm-business-management skills for beginning and established farmers.
John Alt, north region administrator for Madison College, formerly known as Madison Area Technical College, said college officials are making the transition from a combination farm-business and production-management program to focus strictly on farm-business management.
Randy Zogbaum, most recently the agriculture education director for the Wisconsin Technical College System, has been hired as the program’s instructor and coordinator.
Madison College had offered a diploma program with courses in soils, crop and livestock management, livestock nutrition, and farm records and business analysis. Alt said they heard loud and clear from farmers and advisers that what farmers really need is a program designed to help them with their business-management skills.
Zogbaum had been helping the college shape the new direction while working in his WTCS role, so when he expressed an interest in the Madison College position, Alt said Zogbaum was a perfect fit.
“(Zogbaum) has tremendous knowledge of what goes on statewide and nationally,” Alt said. “In all fairness, we recruited him. We’d be crazy not to look at a person who was this close to the whole process of developing the program. I’m looking at Randy to grow this program.”
The program has been slow to gain traction out of the gate — only three students signed up for a limited number of classes that started in November — but officials hope to build interest in sign-ups for another round of classes in January and have full classes in the fall of 2014.
The 2014 classes will start in mid-January and run for about six weeks each. A second group will start in late February and run until early April. All classes will meet for two hours, once per week.
A similar schedule will take shape again in the fall of 2014.
Classes will be held at the Green Technology Training and Enterprise Center in Plain. Alt said he is hopeful that as interest in the program grows, similar classes will be held at other locations within the 12-county Madison College district.
Madison College officials solicited the advice of farmers and financial institution representatives in shaping their new curriculum.
“We all know that farms don’t fail because farmers aren’t working hard, they fail because they’re not good at managing a business,” Zogbaum said. “From the education side it’s not a favorite topic all the time. But our goal is to help them be the best business people they can be.”
The courses offered by Madison College will lead students down the path of developing a business plan for their farm business. Students will then learn methods for using the plan to evaluate their farm’s financial viability and assist in decision making.
Alt said students can take each course sequentially or individual courses depending on their experience and knowledge of operating a farm business.
“Farming is a complicated business,” Zogbaum said. “If you don’t know your cost of production all the way through you really can’t tell if you’re making money. That’s the goal of the courses we set up — to work through it in a way that makes sense for the farmer.”
Alt said farmers have told them they don’t need a diploma or a certificate but instead need just-in-time training to help them manage their farms. Farmers or people interested in starting a farming operation can take the courses they need to help their individual situations.
“The nice thing is it’s easily customizable,” Alt said. “The courses we’re developing are applicable to all sorts of things. This is a new direction for the college.”
Zogbaum will also be developing a fee-for-service program that will allow farmers to receive one-on-one instruction.
Zogbaum said within the structure of the old farm-business and production-management program, if a student needed just one course and left the program, that hurt the statistics that kept the program viable.
“In the new program, if you choose to come in and get a business plan in the business planning course and we never see you again, that would be unfortunate, because we’d like to have you back, but you still get a good value out of that class,” Zogbaum said. “Either way, it doesn’t hurt the program and it helps the student.”
Zogbaum was born and raised in Madison but grew up working on a dairy farm in Richland County and a beef and pork farm in Rock County. His father’s family is from the Lone Rock area, so he said his “heart and soul are right here in this area.”
“I was real excited to have the opportunity to get back in the classroom,” he said. “I had some great colleagues in the system office and I’ll miss each and every one of them. But this opportunity is just too good to pass up.”
Zogbaum worked at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as a soil and water quality specialist and as a Columbia County Extension agriculture agent before taking the WTCS agriculture director position in 2008.
Each six-week course will cost about $240, and in many cases, scholarship or grant funds are available to cover some of the costs, Alt said.
Zogbaum said he could envision a farmer taking a course every year to help build a strong financial base.
“It would be a great opportunity to sit down with 15 or 20 other farmers and an instructor and look at your balance sheet year after year,” he said. “Why not use the class as a time to close out your books for the year?”
The last full-time employee in Madison College’s old agriculture program retired this year, so Alt said it was important to maintain the position and head the program in a viable direction.
“It’s going to appeal to a lot of people,” he said of the revamped program. “We have lease space at the Green Technology Center in Plain, so that’s where we’re starting, but I can see it spreading very quickly to other parts of the district. I think it has huge potential.”
December 9, 2013
From wkow.com: “Madison College raises money for Philippine typhoon victims” – Students at Madison College are using a class project to help with typhoon relief in the Philippines.
Business and cosmetology students put together a promotion where they’re donating five percent of all sales at the college’s Tru-Style Salon to the American Red Cross.
“I can’t tell you how excited they are and how excited I am for them that they’re able to work collaboratively across parts of the college and be able to have their work implemented, and actually helping customers, helping typhoon victims, doing civic responsibility,” said Betty Hurd of the School of Business and Applied Arts.
The promotion is available through next Friday at the Tru-Style Salon in the college’s Truax campus.
November 29, 2013
From nbc15.com: “Co-worker gives the gift of a lifetime” – It’s a gift that will last a lifetime, a selfless donation made to a co-worker. The gift is giving one Madison man a big reason to be thankful this holiday season.
This time last year Terry Webb found out his kidneys were failing, he and his doctors started the process to get on the donor list. A wait that could take 8 or 9 years. During that time, he started searching for a family member who might be able to help him out sooner.
“Judging by what everyone says to me now, I was pretty bad.” Starting dialysis, Terry says he wasn’t himself. “Progressively the disease got worse.”
Things started looking bad when family member after family member came back with a negative match.
“There’s only one that came back as a potential match and it was far from ideal.”
As provost at Madison College, Terry struggled both at home and at work.
“Well we could all tell that Terry was not doing as well as he could be,” says his co-worker, Keith Cornille.
So a few offices away Keith Cornille decided to step up.
“There’s a whole other side to this, what happened if I didn’t do something? What happened if I knew I was a match and could have helped someone and didn’t.”
Be it an act of fate, a miracle or just sheer dumb luck, he was a match.
“This was a really exceptional match. The likelihood of that happening when you’re sitting next to someone working with them everyday is something more stunning than anything else.”
The surgery was in June, and it went off without a hitch. Terry says he was lucky enough that his body didn’t reject the kidney at first, a common occurrence.
“I actually went to visit Keith in the hospital room that’s across the hall from me because it’s hard to believe that it made such a big difference.”
Counting his blessings everyday that he can return to life as normal.
“I can do things that I couldn’t do before, unfortunately that includes household chores, raking, stuff like that.”
“If I didn’t give him my kidney I was afraid he was going to ask me to come over and do all of his chores and I didn’t want any part in that I have my own leaves to rake!”
Keith says all kidding aside, it’s an amazing feeling to give someone his life back.
“To consider a donation of life to really think about what the impact of that donation could be on someone.”
Opening Terry’s eyes to the generosity of his co-worker, and the inspiring gift he’ll cherish forever.
“To be part of this entirely selfless act that really makes you look at doing the same sorts of things yourself more often.”
November 4, 2013
From wkow.com: “Care Care Clinic preps vehicles for winter” – As winter weather fast approaches, experts are encouraging people to start thinking about getting cars ready for chilly temperatures.
Madison College held their 11th annual Free Car Care Clinic on Saturday. Students and instructors offered their expertise to check belts, hoses and other winter problem areas for those who stopped by.
“The things that come in– oil leaks, coolant leaks, ya know bad coolant, just applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to real life experiences, it’s really an eye opener,” says student Isaac Nowak.
Those who attended the event were asked to donate non-perishable food items. Last year, more than 200 pounds of food were sent to local pantries after the clinic.
September 12, 2013
From wkow.com: “Inside the new MATC health ed building” – A new health education building is open this semester at Madison College.
The new addition allows students to have hands-on experience in the medical field, with rooms simulating hospitals, hospice facilities, and triage situations.
“In this building here we have theory they teach, they practice in the same space. And then the next day they go out to the clinical site and actually implement what they’ve learned here,” said Mark Lausch of the School of Health Education.
The more than $40 million dollar project was approved by voters in a 2010 referendum.
1,100 students were surveyed to get their ideas on what they wanted to see, as well as the faculty and stakeholders.
September 11, 2013
From madisonaudubon.blogspot.com: “New homes for Madison’s downtown birds” – On a hot and humid weekend in July, Madison College student, Amanda Vang, ventured out from the air-conditioning, and led a group of volunteers in constructing 20 songbird houses.
Amanda is taking a summer course at Madison College which includes a service learning project with a local organization. She noticed the increasing construction of suburbs and cities, and wanted to help attract and create safe habitat for birds in the Madison downtown area. In her proposal she says,
“Madison Audubon is all about bringing people together to benefit nature, and this is what my project does… A simple bird house is going to encourage people to pay closer attention to the environment, and learn about the changes going on around it”.
|One of Amanda’s volunteers found some shade!|
So, the Madison Audubon office teamed up with Amanda to sponsor her project. She hoped to build 20 songbird houses, and donate them to downtown residents in Madison. Amanda worked hard raising funds for the materials, consulting with our bird expert, Karen Etter Hale, on appropriate birdhouse designs, picking out the wood, and finally assembling the 20 birdhouses!
This songbird house design (which can be found on the Cornell website) provides safe habitat for many species, including the House Wren, Black-Capped Chickadee, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Prothonotary Warbler, Deer Mouse, Whitefooted Mouse, and more.
|Though building birdhouses isn’t hard, it does require the
right materials, and a bit of patience. Way to go, Amanda!
September 9, 2013
From wiscnews.com: “Learning the ropes of Reedsburg” — By Julie Belschner - From Los Angeles to Reedsburg, it’s a bit of culture shock for Dr. Jack E. Daniels III. But the Chicago native, who is now the president of Madison Area Technical College, knows this area well. As a child, he came to Wisconsin Dells on camping trips.
This week he was in Reedsburg to meet with staff, faculty, students and the public at MATC’s Reedsburg campus.
“This is my second time here,” he said. “I was here for a tour during the interview process. Today I got really good input. What you’re coming into is a facility that serves this community well. The students seem to be engaged. We have great instructors. Those are all good things.
“There are no bad things. The staff here all has one focus – on the students. And that’s true throughout the district.”
He comes to the job after serving since 2006 as president of Los Angeles Southwest College, an 8,000-student school that’s part of the sprawling Los Angeles Community College district. It was formed in 1967 in the wake of the Watts race riots to improve educational opportunities for the area’s then-majority black population.
He has been credited with helping the college be more accessible to the area’s now-majority Latino population, boosting their enrollment from 20 percent of the student body when he started to 36 percent today.
“His unwavering commitment to student success and a positive collaborative work environment for all involved in the college, plus his commitment to partnering with the community to meet the needs of industry and business, put him in an excellent position to lead us,” said Janice Bultema at the time of his selection. The District Board member was on the three-person search committee for a new president.
She said that beyond his record as an administrator, it was feedback received from various campus groups that helped cinch the decision to hire Daniels.
“What we heard loud and clear from all the sessions is people really like his interpersonal style and his engaging interaction with others,” she said.
Serving others is Daniels’ aim, he said Wednesday.
“We talked about classes, about what types of programs they’d like to see, about books, the cost of books,” he said of the day’s meetings with students. “They’d like the ability to have programs here that may be offered in a different area. Many don’t like to travel. They like the class size here; there is more engagement with the instructors.”
One example, he said, is the culinary program that is offered in Madison. If Reedsburg students want to be in it, they currently need to travel to Madison. That, he said, might be difficult, especially in winter.
“It’s too soon to tell what I might change,” he said. “I’m taking the first few weeks to observe and listen. I’ll have some findings, and then analyze them, and present them back to the district. I anticipate the first of November I’ll be able to do that.”
He has eight campuses to observe and listen at, so getting around to all eight is a task, he added.
Surprisingly, not that many things are different than in LA.
“There are some obvious things,” he said. “The size is smaller, and in California each college campus is separately accredited, not like here. But there are similar programs. We have a college focus on trade and technology.”
When asked how ACT-10 will affect his plans at MATC, Daniels said he needs to set up a plan for open dialogue between staff and faculty.
“We actually have three collective bargaining units here,” he said. “The staff, part-time faculty and full-time faculty. The current contract ends March 2014, so I’ve got no time. I want to have something put together by the first of the year. There are so many unknowns. While a few colleges have handbooks, there is no framework, nothing to follow.
“But I strongly believe in shared decision making.”
Daniels took over at the school Aug. 19. He earned his doctorate at Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology in Berkeley, Calif., and his Bachelor’s degree at Huntington University in Indiana.
August 21, 2013
From wkow.com: “Daniels takes over as president at Madison College” – The new president at Madison Area Technical College is settling in.
President Jack Daniels started his new job Monday.
During an interview with 27 News, Daniels talked about presiding over a growing college, that will open four new buildings on its main campus this school year.
“You can build these great buildings but what happens inside those walls? And so, my focus is really on how have we engaged our students? How we help them meet their goals?”
Daniels comes to Madison College from Los Angeles Southwest College. But he’s not a stranger to the Midwest, also spending time as president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois.
August 19, 2013
From wisconsinoutdoorfun.com: “DNR’s ‘Hunting for Sustainability’ course for novice hunters open for enrollment” – MADISON — People who like to eat good food while supporting the environment and learning something about their state can register for a Hunting for Sustainability course being offered this fall.
“Natural resources conservation, sustainability and hunting naturally fit hand in hand,” says Keith Warnke, Department of Natural Resources hunting and shooting sports coordinator, who created the course. Since its launch in 2012, the course has grown in popularity and more sections are expected to be added.
“Hunting is an integral part of the fabric of Wisconsin life and a great source for locally produced food,” Warnke says.
The Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Madison College is offering at least two continuing education courses that aim to show how hunting plays into conservation and healthy living. Students will learn hunting skills, ethics, tools and techniques from experienced hunters. And, students may have the opportunity to participate in a mentored-deer or -pheasant hunting experience.
Be a healthy eater; learn from experienced hunters Warnke says the course’s objective is to reach adults who have never had a chance to hunt to experience one of the state’s traditions. “There are barriers in knowledge and equipment needed to get started if you weren’t raised a hunter. This course is an opportunity for adults to get started with guidance from experienced hunters.”
The program is the result of a few pilot events aimed at recruiting adult hunters – also known as Learn to Hunt events. Learn to Hunt events have proven popular with kids and in particular with the children of hunters. “But when we offer them to adults, interest went through the roof,”Warnke says. “In particular, young adults have jumped at the opportunity. So we realize there is a demand to learn to hunt and last year offered this course to 20 people. This we are expanding and hope to have even more courses coming soon.”
Telephone registration is available through Madison College at 608-246-6210.
July 25, 2013
From hngnews.com: “Tribune Profile — Taryn Meinholz: She photographs special moments” – Taryn Meinholz has two passions: her 5-year-old daughter, Tenlee, and her photography. Graduating from Middleton High School, Meinholz didn’t have any idea of what she wanted to do from then on. She attended Madison Area Technical College for general computer classes before she decided to move to Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. She became an office manager at a construction and roofing company.
“It was awesome waking up on a lake. It was like being on vacation,” Meinholz said.
But reality set in and she returned home. In 2008, Meinholz welcomed her daughter, Tenlee, to the world. After her daughter’s birth, Meinholz began snapping photos.
“I wanted to capture every moment,” Meinholz said.
When she developed the pictures, Meinholz noticed she had a knack for taking pictures that she wasn’t aware of before. She went ahead and purchased her first Digital Single Lens Reflex (or DSL) camera, a move up from her point and shoot device. She also accepted a job at Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Company in policy services. She enjoyed the job but found it not to be as satisfying as when she first started. If she was going to make any changes and give up time with her daughter, she knew it would have to be for something she really loved doing.
Meinholz was enjoying her new camera so much she decided to enroll in MATC’s photography program. After being on the waiting list for one and half years, Meinholz received her acceptance letter and then hesitated, questioning her willingness to commit to this major endeavor.
With a “if I don’t do it now, I never will” attitude, Meinholz went full speed ahead becoming a full-time student with a part-time job.
“My family and work were very supportive,” Meinholz said. “I committed myself to get through in two years.”
Classes included lighting, Photoshop and editing, as well as video classes among others. Students were required to shadow a professional photographer to execute all the processes that were learned in the classroom, observe the work flow and body language of a professional studio.
Meinholz started taking extended family photos and used friends for school projects. She graduated in 2012 staying true to her two-year timeframe.
“We were the first class to graduate all-digital,” Meinholz said.
Meinholz has learned her camera inside and out, but it is can still be a challenge to be quick in full manual mode.
Blending together all she learned, Meinholz dove head first into the real world of photography and started accepting wedding assignments. An acquaintance trusted her enough to give her the opportunity. With only a mock wedding experience during school, Meinholz’s first actual wedding was very nerve racking. Meinholz brought a fellow student for moral support and picture backup.
“Weddings can be a one-shot opportunity. I can’t tell the bride I missed the first kiss or that my hard drive crashed,” Meinholz said.
All turned out well and with that trust came the confidence to keep going. This year, Meinholz has 13 weddings booked for summer and fall. And she enjoys every minute of it.
“I tell the brides. ‘Don’t be offended, but I’m the boss,’ ” Meinholz said. “Bride’s don’t realize how fast the day goes.”
There is a timeline for the day and expectations of the bride and groom of certain pictures. Family pictures are done right away before everyone goes in different directions. Meinholz recognizes the important parts of the wedding and then she likes to fill in with small unexpected details, and everyone is pleasantly surprised. As time goes on, Meinholz feels more laidback and prepared.
“I don’t stress out. I want it to be fun for the bride and me,” Meinholz said.
Weddings can end up being a 14-hour day taking three hours to upload pictures with six to 10 hours of editing.
“I love to present the end result,” Meinholz said.
Meinholz works out of her home where she rents a farmhouse with her sister. Most of her work is done in natural lighting. Portraits are her favorite whether they are senior pictures or family events.
“I love being able to capture personalities,” Meinholz said.
But she has to remind herself that clients aren’t models.
“Clients don’t know what makes a good picture,” Meinholz said.
As the professional, Meinholz needs to convey what does. Meinholz gets her own picture taken once in a while just to remember what it’s like to be the client.
Meinholz loves taking pictures of children.
“I love having a 2-year-old in a field, and the parents and I are doing all kinds of things for that one smile. It’s very entertaining,” Meinholz said.
Friends are beginning their families and taking photos of newborns also thrills Meinholz. Meinholz continues working part time for Wisconsin Insurance. Acquiring different professional equipment, such as extra lenses, can be a major investment.
“It’s very rewarding. It is so unexpected for me to have this passion and be recognized for it. I would not be here without the support of my family. They take up a lot of my slack, but they love every minute of it. It keeps us close,” Meinholz said.
Most of Meinholz’s free time is spent with her first and favorite photographic subject, her daughter.
July 19, 2013
From channel3000.com: “Madison College celebrates opening of new building” – MADISON - Madison College celebrated the opening of its new Gateway Building on the Truax Campus Thursday.
MATC dedicated the building’s welcome center to outgoing president Dr. Bettsey Barhorst.
The building houses several lounges, a student achievement center, a gallery and a library, and as the first building on the campus, it will be used to welcome people to Madison College.
“We are so grateful to the taxpayers and voters who voted for the referendum in 2010 when things were not really good. And then the people who had it built in two years,” said Barhorst.
Barhorst will be leaving the college next month and moving to Illinois to be closer to family but she said she’s loved living and working in Madison.
Proceeds from the ticketed event that was hosted by the Madison College Foundation will support student scholarships and educational programs.
June 26, 2013
From wrn.com: “Next batch of cartoonists a quick study” – A professional artist teaches kids in his hometown of Madison as a way to give back to the community. Jeff Butler remembers the beginning of his career in the early 1980s when Madison was a “hotbed” of comic book art, a phenomenon that has since waned. The artist, whose work spans from comics to video games, decided recently to start teaching as way to “pay back some of the stuff I had learned.”
Butler teaches, at Madison College, a daily four-hour Boot Camp for Cartoonists for middle school and high school students. “I’m absolutely flabbergasted at how good these students are,” says Butler, an alum of Madison College and UW-Madison.
Butler says a reason these kids pick it up so quickly is due in large part to the internet and the information accessible from it. He also teaches adults in a separate continuing education course but admits it’s the kids who learn really quickly.
June 21, 2013
From wiscnews.com: “Madison College finalists to visit Portage” — By Jen McCoy - The next president of Madison College will be one of three finalists who will visit the campuses next week.
After 33 applicants from around the nation, the finalists are: Stephen M. Curtis, president of Community College of Philadelphia; Jack E. Daniels, president of Los Angeles Southwest College; and Ann Valentine, chancellor of the Wabash Valley Region of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.
“They’re all highly accomplished in a number of areas, and I think it was reflective of Madison College with its national presence reflected in our pool of candidates. We’re very pleased,” said Jon Bales, District Board trustee.
Public forums have been scheduled for each of the MATC regional campuses and at its Truax campus in Madison. For Portage, the open meet-and-greet will be from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Valentine will be at the Portage campus on Monday.
“We’re hoping for and open to feedback directly from the public. There will be a chance for questions and answers, people can see what motivates them, how they interact,” Bales said.
Before joining Wabash Valley in 2011, Valentine served for six years as president of Minnesota State Community and Technical College. She has also served as vice president and provost at Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin for five years; as chief academic officer at Independence Community College in Kansas; and dean for general education at Moraine Park Technical College in Wisconsin. She coordinated the Interdisciplinary Health Professions Education Program in the Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Iowa while also developing and delivering curriculum for the program, according to a news release.
Jack E. Daniels
On Tuesday, Daniels will meet the public in Portage.
Prior to Daniels position as president of Los Angeles Southwest College in July 2006, he served for three years as president at Lincoln Land Community College.
Daniels served for five years as president of Central College, one of five community colleges within the Houston Community College System. He also served as a tenured psychology faculty member at Laney College and has held several administrative roles at other community colleges and a baccalaureate/graduate granting institution, according to the release.
Stephen M. Curtis
Curtis will be at the Portage campus on Wednesday.
In 1999, Curtis was named the fifth president of Community College of Philadelphia. He previously served as president of Hudson Valley Community College/SUNY and, in The City University of New York, as acting president of Queens College, acting president of Borough of Manhattan Community College, and as dean of academic affairs at the same institution, according to the release.
Bales said he hopes to have a new president for MATC chosen by the end of next week and installed this summer.
There will be high expectations for the new president Bales said.
“One is to maintain a culture of innovation and really help us with that the commitment the public has given us with the new facilities by turning them into meaningful programs for public, steer that well; Secondly, sustain an environment open to change, the rate of the change of applied fields is pretty dramatic, keep that momentum, and critical to keep community involvement. We want somebody who’s very engaging; and finally somebody who can really capitalize on our biggest asset, which is the faculty and staff,” he said.
Residents are encouraged to provide feedback by contacting Bales at 235-8622.
June 20, 2013
From madison.com: “As construction booms in Madison, skilled workers are in short supply” – Wisconsin may be lagging the rest of the country in job creation and Madison is falling behind peer cities in economic growth, but the economy here is great for union electricians.
Dave Boetcher, business agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159, says the 900 members of his Madison-based local are at “150 percent employment.” No joke.
“All of our local members are working and we’ve had to bring in members from other locals and other states to man the work,” he says.
There is so much work, he says, that the local has been calling up members from other union locals elsewhere – as far away as Chicago – to offer them jobs on projects around Madison.
By far the biggest construction project is the expansion at Epic Systems in Verona. On that campus alone, 450 electricians are earning a paycheck, says Boetcher.
The effects of Epic’s rapid expansion are evident far outside of its sprawling suburban campus. The company’s constant hiring is driving a mini real estate boom throughout Madison, as developers scramble to build apartments to house the young, middle-class workers moving here in droves.
“There’s like 1,600 apartment units coming downtown in July and August,” says Harry Sulzer, an inspection supervisor for the city of Madison. “Some of that is driven by our friends in Verona. A lot of those professionals are moving to downtown Madison.”
The housing boom reflects a welcome reality after the long recession: There are nearly no vacant apartments in downtown Madison. And of the existing units, many are old and run-down; they’re barely suitable for penniless UW students, let alone young professionals with disposable income.
More houses are going up too. Andrew Disch, a spokesman for the Madison Area Builders Association, says 403 permits for new single-family homes have been issued in the first five months of 2013, compared to 307 during the same period last year.
For many people who are thinking of setting up permanently in Madison, there’s never been a better time to stop renting and start buying. While landlords continue to raise rents in response to the saturated market, home prices remain fairly low and interest rates are quite favorable.
“I think we’ve finally reached a point in the consumer’s mind – (while) they may not have a real high level of confidence in the economy, they’ve come back to their strong belief and confidence in housing,” says Kevin King, president of the Realtors Association of South Central Wisconsin.
This is all great news for workers in the construction trades – the sector that was devastated by the housing bust in 2008. Or, it’s great news for those who remain.
“We’ve had a number of calls from our contractors looking for employees,” says Stephen Stone, director of business development for the Associated Builders & Contractors of Wisconsin, a group of non-union contractors. “They’ve called back their employees they’d laid off and now they’re looking to expand.”
The problem is, many workers became so discouraged during the recession – or so desperate for money – that they stopped looking for construction work.
“They’re doing something else now,” Stone says. “And I don’t think those people are going to come back to our industry – they’re not going to leave that other employment until we as an industry can prove that the market is back.”
That’s why John Stephany, who teaches construction and remodeling at Madison College, says the trades are a great opportunity for young people looking to make a good living. Almost all of the 24 students who recently graduated from his program found jobs immediately after finishing school. And unlike many college graduates, they can expect pay raises in the next year.
“I think the average wage for graduates has increased $2 in the past year,” says Stephany. “The average starting wage has gone from $10 to $12 an hour to $14 to $17 an hour.”
Keep in mind, that’s just the starting wage. Experienced trades workers make far more than that. A union electrician in Madison who has completed a five-year apprenticeship earns a base wage of $33.45 an hour (roughly $70,000 a year if working full time) plus benefits.
And yet, as the economy slowly recovers, large swaths of young workers who are struggling to find good jobs aren’t considering the trades. The message across the country, from guidance counselors to the White House, has emphasized the importance of college in the 21st century.
Indeed, as manufacturing jobs that once offered middle-class wages have been shipped overseas or made obsolete by mechanization, many parents likely see college as the only responsible path for their kids to take.
But unlike manufacturing, the trades aren’t going away anytime soon.
“These are jobs that can’t be outsourced,” says Stephany.
And unlike traditional college, where the typical student accrues thousands of dollars of debt, a trades apprentice makes money while attending school to learn the trade. To become a union electrician, for instance, one undergoes five years of on-site and classroom training — all the while getting paid.
Women, who increasingly dominate college campuses and are surpassing men in many white-collar professions, remain greatly underrepresented in the trades. At Madison College, in fact, there is a program, Tools for Tomorrow: Women in Trades and Technology, designed specifically to offer women a glimpse into a potentially profitable field.
The head of the program, Nancy Nikkoul, says the percentage of women in the trades has hardly budged in the past two decades. Currently, she says, only 2.3 percent of construction apprentices in Wisconsin are women.
Two decades ago, Sandy Thistle, who now is an instructor in the program, was one of the few women who went into construction. After dropping out of UW, where she had been studying to enter the female-dominated field of nursing, she decided to give carpentry a shot.
“I was good at math, I was kind of athletic, I wanted to work outside and do something physical,” she recalls.
There were also practical considerations: “I wanted to be able to have a decent living and union carpentry paid very well.”
Specifically, being in a union — where pay for all workers is negotiated in a contract — ensured that she would be paid as well as her male peers. “We all know that if (employers) could pay me less because I’m a woman they would,” she adds.
So how much longer is this building boom going to last?
Much of it is being driven by several major projects – notably Epic – and some of it likely represents homeowners and businesses making up for the break they took from building during the recession.
“Four more years,” predicts Awad Hanna, a UW professor of civil engineering who studies the construction labor market. “I can see at least four more years of this tight (construction) labor market and then construction will be tied to the economy.”
From a construction worker’s perspective, another four years of steady employment is welcome, but those who endured the Great Recession – when the national unemployment rate in construction was at one point as high as 27 percent – may wonder if it’s only a matter of time before the next downturn occurs.
Mayor Paul Soglin, however, believes that the building frenzy represents a long-term shift toward economic development in Madison.
“The volume of construction here in Madison that’s under way or will be under way shortly is a significant increase which outperforms what you would expect to see in this recovery,” he says.
He attributes the building bonanza in part to a message he believes his administration has sent to developers that their projects are welcome.
Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, says Soglin deserves credit for his development efforts, but argues that the move toward a development-friendly city hall began with Soglin’s predecessor, former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.
“I think it’s certainly true that over the last few years there’s been an epiphany that development isn’t going to happen on its own,” he says.
While the jobs provided by Epic and building projects on the UW campus are great, Brandon says the most encouraging signs are the cranes on smaller, private-sector sites.
“It’s not just Epic, it’s not a single point in time,” he says. “It’s becoming a trend line.” ￼
June 17, 2013
From madisonmagazine.com: “Learning by Doing” – Each year, students in Madison Area Technical College’s Construction and Remodeling program complete a building that’s sold to the public. This spring, they took on a new style, creating a structure bigger and better than ever before. I caught up with John Stephany, program instructor, to find out more about the project.
How many projects has the program done since its founding? The program has been around for over 30 years, working on a variety of different projects. We have been building the small modular homes here for seven years.
What is the role of students in the construction?
We had about 22 students this year, and they all worked on the house. They did almost everything: framed it up, installed the roofing, siding, flooring, drywall, cabinetry, windows and doors, trim, etc.
What is different about this year’s building?
We’ve changed the design to be more contemporary. This helped in many ways. Primarily, it simplified the design and construction, making the details the students needed to accomplish simpler, and at a more basic level. Our previous design was more traditional looking with a steep roof and a loft, but because of all the angles involved, it made for many trickier details that were not really beginning level.
How much say do the owners have in the construction?
Quite a bit. We prefer the clients be involved at the planning stages, and get quite a bit of input in the layout and design. We have some restrictions that primarily revolve around being able to transport it when we’re done—so size and shape—and we also try to keep the details simple, so no complicated crown details or things like that. Otherwise, we’re only limited by design imagination. We have worked with a couple of architects who are on board with what we are doing, and are able to produce drawings for us to work from.
How does the program work to incorporate “green” options? What about this house is efficient?
Last year’s house had a solar Photovoltaic system that the electrical apprentices here installed, and we are close to getting a Net Zero Home, which means, with the right balance of insulation, energy efficiency and solar PV, your house can produce as much energy as it uses.
We are really trying to look down the road at what our students will need to know and then we tailor our building details to reflect the coming trends. There are many college construction programs that are out building cookie cutter vinyl clad boxes without any innovation, and we see that as a huge opportunity lost on many levels.
We are trying to push the envelope on affordable, sustainable building. For instance, we use advanced framing details which create simplified load paths and create more insulation space. We build walls that have an insulation level of R30+ and we use Structural Insulating Panels (SIPs) for the roof, which are a core of solid foam insulation with plywood skins, which themselves have an insulation level of R40+. We use reclaimed wood flooring and the trim on this latest one all came from the ReStore.
I know the outside of the home has some special siding. Could you explain it more?
We install something called Smart Siding, which is a composite wood siding over a rain screen. Smart Side looks like wood siding at half of the cost and maintenance. For the rain screen, we use spacers behind the siding that create an airspace. This doubles the life of your siding and makes the paint job last twice as long as well, since the siding can dry out from all sides. It’s a direction the industry is moving toward. In old houses, the wall cavities were fairly leaky air wise, and siding could dry to the inside as well as out. With homes being built much tighter now—which is a very good thing—it was found that siding finishes weren’t lasting as long because it could no longer dry from the backside.
Tell me more about how the home is suited for “aging in place.” What does that mean for the owner?
Wider hallways, single level and wider doors into rooms allow for wheelchair and walker use. Keeping most everything on one level is also huge. If we were installing this home to be consistent with that idea, the exterior walkways would gently slope right to the door threshold—no stairs.
What design choices were made to help maximize space in the smaller layout?
The clients are going to use Ikea cabinets for storage in the bigger bedroom to separate it into two spaces for their kids, which saves space. The bathroom is just big enough to be accessible by a wheelchair, and we used a shower instead of a tub. We also combined the kitchen and dining areas.
What part of the home was the most challenging for students? What is their favorite part of it?
The students liked framing it and setting the beams and SIP panels. Drywall install is always challenging for some students, and proper window and door setting can be complicated as well. Some loved installing the flooring; some hated it. Some loved installing the siding; some hated it. The students who are more particular seemed to enjoy this finish details more, and the students who are less particular seemed to enjoy the framing and siding more.
How can someone purchase a project constructed by the program?
Contact me: email@example.com.
Is there anything else the public should know?
We are one of the best kept secrets of Madison College. Our program not only teaches all the basics of becoming a good beginning craftsperson, we are also out on the cutting edge of construction, and hope to start appealing to a wider audience due to the innovative things we are doing.
The innovation began about eight years ago, when Allie Berenyi was hired to be the new program director and teacher, and she started the program moving more in this direction. It really is incumbent on us to be in front, and training for the future, and also to be partnered with our industry and using us as their sounding board for new ideas. The public can come by and see how SIP panels work and decide to start using them, for instance.
June 14, 2013
From nbc15.com: “Program helps women get into male-dominated field” – When you think of a typical construction worker, a woman may not come to mind. But, the ladies are out to prove that anything guys can do, they can do better.
“We’re trying to draw more women into the skilled trades because economic parody. You make decent money as a skilled trades person” says Sandy Thistle, who teaches construction at Madison College.
Thistle also helps with the ‘Tools for Tomorrow’ program. The program, put on by Madison College, lets ladies get their feet wet in the areas of trade and technology.
Thursday ‘s free workshop focused on homebuilding.
“I run the power tools at home and so I think women are totally capable of doing this type of job” says Maria Kovach, one of the dozen women who turned out to the workshop.
And if you are a woman who’s struggling to support a family, construction may be the way to go.
“Now that the economy’s picking up, there’s demand for this work and there’s nobody trained” says Thistle.
Right now, there are now more people working in construction since August 2009.
Last month, construction employment jumped by 7000.
You can find out more information on the ‘Tools for Tomorrow’ program by heading to:
From nbc15.com: “Madison College instructors use 3-D printers as part of curriculum” – It’s cutting-edge technology at our fingertips. 3-D printers are being used to create everything from cell phone covers to cars to prosthetic limbs. Now, instructors at Madison Area Technical College are implementing the machines into their curriculum.
The printers have been around for decades, but like most technology, over the years the price has dropped and they’re now much more accessible. Come fall, there will be one in dozens of classrooms at Madison College. Now, envisioning an idea, like the architectural plans for a building, will no longer be confined to a computer screen.
“The way is to create the 3-D model in the software,” Jim Grenzow said. “It needs to be translated and sent to this machine. And when we build the model, basically what we do is take sections and 3-4 thousandths of an inch thick and printing them out on this machine.”
Grenzow helps architecture students at Madison College bring their designs to life using a 3-D printer.
“The machine that we have works basically on the principal that if I draw an object, and cut out this object with a razor blade knife,” Grenzow said. “And then transferred that onto each of these sheets of paper, and then cut them out and stacked them all on top of each other, I would have a 3-D object. “
The process is a layering effect and takes hours to complete. The printer Grenzow works with uses a white flour-like material, but others can use anything from plastic to metal to even sugar or syrup to make food.
“So there are multiple ways to actually create a 3-D product using different materials,” said Ken Starkman, Dean of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology at Madison College. “And I think that’s where we’re going to see these tremendous leaps and bounds in technology here in the coming years and months.”
Starkman says the industry is currently going two ways: One toward the high-end multi-material 3-D printer that major companies and schools may use, and the other toward the less expensive, less complex ones that people can buy for their homes.
“3-D technology will find its way into our kitchens, it will find its way into our home offices,” Starkman said. “It may find its way into shopping malls. When you start thinking in 3-D, the possibilities really become endless.”
But many fear there is also a downside to the printers. The government has been concerned recently about people’s capacity to build their own guns that are made of non-metal based materials, and can easily get through a metal detector.
There is also the concern that manufacturing jobs may soon go away if people are able to use 3-D printers to replace things like car parts all on their own. Starkman says while the face of manufacturing will certainly change, technology will create new demands and therefore new jobs.