December 9, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “NWTC offers mentors to minority students to help boost grad rates” – Maria Almanza is studying to be a medical assistant at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
As a busy first-year college student, the 21-year-old mother of two said she appreciates the help of mentor Alana Dallas, who talks to her about her studies and navigating the community college campus.
They are part of a new Peer Mentor program designed to help minority students succeed in school. The new program, launched in October with help from a state grant, aims to increase success by offering a variety of academic, social and personal support.
“Not only does this program provide important support to keep students successful and in school, but it gives our student mentors a chance to give back,” said Gema Garcia, program coordinator. “These students have been there and they know what’s it’s like. They’re here to provide guidance to their fellow students to help them overcome any hurdles they might face.”
NWTC’s program has 10 mentors who are helping 20 students this semester. Mentors are students who have been in school for at least a semester. Mentors were chosen for their commitment and willingness to support students as they transition to college, Garcia said. They must meet grade-point average requirements and are fully trained.
Minority students lag a bit behind other students in terms of grades and graduation rates, noted Vickie Lock, dean of student success at NWTC.
In 2012-13 about 64,000 white students were enrolled at NWTC, and 82.46 percent of them received passing grades of A, B or C. The school had 8,200 minority students that year, and 74 percent of them had passing grades.
“That’s a 5.81 percent gap that we really want to close,” Lock said.
Minority students may fall behind because they did not take adequate courses in high school and often are the first in their families to attend college, so may lack home support, she said. They may be low-income, which means they have to work one or several jobs, she said.
“All of these are factors that lead to a harder time achieving,” Lock said.
Mentors can help by providing support families may not be able to provide, she said.
Blaire Xiong, a student in the administrative professional program and a peer mentor, said the mentor relationship is an opportunity to lead by example.
“We may have come from similar backgrounds as many of the mentees, “ Xiong said. “But because we’ve already been here and know what’s available, I think we can really help them succeed.”
The peer mentor program is part of a larger NWTC initiative focusing on helping more students graduate, Lock said.
Almanza’s mentor recently guided her through preparing a resume and cover letter for a class, she said. She plans to graduate in December 2014.
“The mentorship program … makes sure you have more self confidence. Once you are feeling confident, you start doing things better, in my opinion,” Almanza said.
Some minority students may struggle if English is not their first language, she said.
“Also, high school is easier,” said Almanza, who graduated from Green Bay’s East High School. “College can be pressure. If you have someone else to cheer for you and is there for you, it makes you more likely to be successful.”
Those in the program participate as along as they feel they need help. Lock hopes students who are being mentored eventually will become mentors.
“We are looking at, do they stay enrolled? Do they complete?” she said. “We’re also looking for some intangibles, such as, ‘Do students really feel connected to college? Are they reaching out to other students?’ I think those would be important pieces for us to see.”
December 9, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “Workers needed, but manufacturing healthy in region” - There is a lot of good manufacturing news in Northeastern Wisconsin, but long-term challenges remain.
Manufacturing companies report they are healthy, modernizing and expecting growth in sales in 2014. They also continue to struggle to find qualified workers, a problem that will remain critical as baby boomers retire and employers add new machines that require better-trained operators.
Those are the findings of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance’s 2014 Manufacturing Vitality Index, released Friday during the annual NEW North Summit in Ashwaubenon.
Fifty-one percent of the surveyed companies reported increased sales in 2013 and 66 percent are expecting more increases next year. Fifty percent are planning plant modernization, as was the case last year, and three out of four expect to hire. But there’s the rub. Sixty percent report having difficulty finding qualified workers.
“The skills shortage hasn’t changed a dramatic amount year to year,” said Scott Kettler, general manager of Fox Cities manufacturing sites for Plexus Corp. and incoming president of the Manufacturing Alliance. “We see people are hiring and we have that growth. What the index says to me is we are not out-pacing our growth.”
The five most difficult-to-fill positions include machinist/CNC machinist, machine operator, truck driver, team assembler and engineering technician. Welders remain in the top 10, though progress has been made in this region in supplying them.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay is turning out 140 welding graduates a year, up from a handful five years ago. It also will train 100 CNC graduates this year and hopes to increase that to 130 next year, said Mark Weber, dean of training and engineering technologies at NWTC.
The Manufacturing Alliance was formed to get educators, students and parents thinking differently about manufacturing.
“I think that the tide has turned,” Weber said. “I’ve seen that in a relatively short time in the discussions I’ve had with K-12s. Before, you couldn’t get them to talk about manufacturing. Now they are calling us to talk about manufacturing.”
Manufacturing accounts for 23 percent of Northeastern Wisconsin’s jobs, and Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in with 19 percent of jobs in manufacturing.
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s “Industrial Cities Initiative” called Green Bay a “resurgent city.” It said the region had four areas that predict economic strength: leadership, regionalism, workforce development and economic development finance.
But the alliance report says long-term demographics are not favorable. Some companies are losing 10 percent or more of their workforce annually to retirement and more people turn 65 each year than turn 18.
A key to mitigating the problem is to get more people interested in manufacturing, Kettler said.
“We have to solve our own problem. We have to continue to work with the education system,” he said. “I want to continue to focus on working with our manufacturers to continue to get involved. Our focus needs to be on that 8-12 (grade) range and we need to turn parents’ minds around that manufacturing is a viable career.”
Many efforts are underway. Some companies are working directly with local high schools, such as Ariens Co. in Brillion and Precision Machine in Algoma. Others are sending workers into classrooms to talk about manufacturing, and NWTC, in collaboration with the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, is sending a classroom — it’s mobile CNC lab — to the students.
“It’s no one thing that’s helping. It’s all of those things; working with high schools, working with manufacturers themselves,” Weber said.
Kettler said companies are taking workers with lesser skills and trying to grow them internally.
“It’s slower and more expensive and it’s not hiring for the future as much,” he said.
The good news, though, shouldn’t be overlooked, he said. Ninety-two percent of companies said they expect to be healthier next year. Half are planning modernization projects in 2014, compared to 46 percent last year and 36 percent in 2012.
“We are seeing companies invest,” he said.
The survey was based on the telephone responses of 111 companies with $3 million or more in annual revenue and 25 or more employees. It had a 28 percent response rate and 95 percent level of confidence. It was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Business Success Center.
November 27, 2013
From whby.com: “Job Center helps company add jobs quickly” — Some state officials are celebrating a jobs success story in Appleton.
Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch stopped by Clean Power today.
Company president Jeffery Packee says a partnership with the Job Center of Wisconsin, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College helped his company hire new workers, quickly. He says they had to fill about 50 positions in just over two weeks, after they got a contract from Marinette Marine. Packee says the workers needed a variety of skills.
Packee says all of the jobs are full-time, and they’re now adding 34 more workers. He says Clean Power is using the job center again, to fill those positions.
November 18, 2013
From wbay.com: “NWTC mentoring program aims to boost minority graduation rates” – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College launches a new peer mentor program.
It’s aimed to improve the graduation rate for minority students.
It can be difficult for any first year student to navigate the first year of college, but some have a tougher time than others.
“We always hear the achievement gap, minority students are more affected,” said Gema Garcia, the program coordinator.
NWTC is trying to close that gap through a new, peer mentoring program.
A $15,000 grant allowed the tech college to hire ten mentors to work with minority students.
“Helping them advocate for themselves and eliminating some of the barriers they went through will truly impact their continuation of college,” explained Garcia.
“We touch base on how they’re doing in school, if they’re struggling in class. If they are, I would refer them to the resources that are available here,” added La Vue, a mentor.
The mentors meet with their mentee a few times a week based on their schedules.
So far, students say the program is helpful.
“To have someone who is similar in age that can relate to them, someone that can help them out. Someone that is more like a friend, but you have a professional level there instead of always having teachers come down on a student,” explained Esun Hudson, a mentee.
“I’m the oldest in my family, so I don’t really have anyone to advise me or anyone to go to and having someone my age that is willing to help me through the process is pretty encouraging,” added Laura Billagomez, another mentee.
Twenty-four students have applied to be paired with a mentor.
Several spots are still available.
Fox Valley Technical College has a similar program called “Brother to Brother”which is an initiative to increase graduation rates among male African American students.
November 15, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Colleges look for ways to raise funds, not taxes, tuition” – College leaders say that today’s economy forces them to think creatively about raising money.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s President Jeff Rafnis is looking for new ways to raise money that do not involve taxes or tuition. The school’s long-range plan, “The Future 2018 Statement of Strategic Directions,” cites a goal to generate $1 million a year.
Other local college administrators say they, too, look for ways to bring dollars that won’t impact students or taxpayers. Rafn said it’s in their best interests.
“The rationality is, as we continue to move forward, the pressure to keep taxes down and not to raise tuition will continue, so we need to look at ways to diversify,” he said. “We need to look for funding wherever we can. The question is, ‘Could we create a revenue stream we haven’t before? Let’s see if we can generate $1 million.’”
That’s about 1 percent of NWTC’s $108 million budget, for 2013-14.
The funding would be separate from money raised through the school’s charitable foundation, Rafn said. It could include things such as marketing curriculum school staff has developed or other intellectual property, he said.
For example, NWTC has created a system to collect information about student progress to help faculty and staff recognize red flags early, and such a system could be sold to other schools, Rafn suggested.
In another example, every Taser device instructor course or re-certification course goes through NWTC — so a police department may have its own trainer, but that trainer is trained through the community college. NWTC could look at selling training products, he said. The school is in the process of securing a patent on such a product staff created in the electromechanical field, which could someday be sold, Rafn said.
School staff also creates curriculum that could be bartered or sold, he said. Administrators need to explore policy and legal implications before moving forward, Rafn said.
“It’s really just a way of starting to look outside of the box,” Rafn said. “The main reason we’re doing all of this is to enhance education. We’re not putting money in anybody’s pocket, it is all to help students.”
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has made similar efforts on a smaller scale, according to Dan McCollum, assistant vice chancellor for academic administration.
Nursing instructors have worked with several nursing groups and associations to create a computer application to replace paper manuals, he said. UW-Green Bay would receive a royalty for its participation.
It also has several programs that are self-supported, including its Environmental Management and Business Institute, which sells services to keep the department going, McCollum said.
St. Norbert College’s revenue enhancement task force meets every other month to discuss ways to raise money, said Amy Sorenson, chief of staff for President Thomas Kunkel.
The four-year private college in De Pere is in the process of trademarking its summer Girls Leadership and Development Camp, and Soreneson said the intention is to offer it to other organizations, especially educational groups.
Most external revenue, which excludes tuition or donations, comes from hosting conferences or special events such as wedding receptions, or renting out facilities, she said.
“I think with the rising cost of tuition, campuses need to look at these possibilities,” Sorenson said. “It’s very much on our radar.”
November 11, 2013
From shwanoleader.com: “NWTC’s 4×4 a vehicle for learning” – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has developed an innovative way to help recent high school graduates transition to college life, and it is doing it one class at a time.
The Shawano campus is providing students ages 18-23 a different way to take courses. Instead of the traditional juggling of several classes that meet two or three times a week over a four-month period, students can now take courses through the “4X4” system, where they go to one class for four days a week over a four-week period, spending three hours each day learning one general studies subject.
For Dylan Kroening and Hunter Galleske, two of 35 participants in this year’s 4X4 program, the fast pace of the program is a big plus.
Kroening, a graduate of Bonduel High School, said he’s able to better grasp the knowledge in the 4X4 setting than he could dealing with several different subjects simultaneously during the semester.
“I feel like, when you go through a 15-week course, you’re going to get to a point where you’re just sick of it. They don’t want to sit there, week in and week out, and do all this homework,” Kroening said. “It’s nice to do it over those four weeks and be done with it.”
Galleske, a Shawano Community High School graduate, said the faster, more intense pace helps students retain more of the subject matter and develop a closer academic relationship with instructors.
“You kind of bond with the teachers more,” Galleske said. “I feel like that they get a better understanding of us. We know what to prepare for.”
The 4X4 program was piloted locally and at other campuses last year, according to Jeannie Jafolla, manager for the Shawano campus. Besides Shawano, NWTC is utilizing 4X4 in Luxemburg, Niagara, Oconto Falls and Marinette.
“About two years, we heard feedback from the high school counselors that high school grads wanted to be with students their own age,” Jafolla said. “At the time, we had a large population of dislocated workers, so to be with their parents in the classroom, it caused uncomfortableness.”
The pilot program, which had eight participants locally, looked at how focusing on one subject for a shorter period of time impacted learning, according to Jodi Tetting, the local campus 4X4 coordinator.
There have been marked results. The median grade-point average of students participating in 4X4 was 3.2, compared with 2.8 for the typical student in general studies, according to Tetting.
“Probably the biggest transition for them is they’re making the decisions themselves,” Tetting said. “When they hit college, they’re adults. Their parents really aren’t privy to their information; they have to answer questions themselves.”
While the grades are important, Jafolla said the program also focuses on soft skills — showing up to class, being on time and getting along with other people. She noted that local businesses have commented they struggle acquiring younger workers with those abilities.
“Some of these students didn’t even like each other in high school, and now they’re best friends because they have to be together for nine months in college,” Jafolla said, adding that the group in the pilot program still gets together from time to time.
Jen Johnson, a SCHS graduate, took part in last year’s pilot and found the format to be simpler than what she dealt with in high school.
“I took one class (at a time), and it was a done deal,” Johnson said. “It didn’t even feel really hard at all. You go in, you have fun and you learn something. I had trouble in high school, so I liked working on one class.”
The program seems to work better on smaller campuses, Jafolla said. NWTC piloted 4X4 on its main campus in Green Bay first and found it did not work as well there, prompting officials to look at tailoring it for regional learning centers.
“The idea was they would go to school for a year here and then transfer to a four-year university,” Jafolla said. “After a year, about half of them transferred, which is fine. They can either transfer or continue on with their two-year degree here.”
The 4X4 classes generally take place in the morning, which gives students the afternoon and evening to go to a job and/or engage in social activities, Jafolla said. She noted that the students who participate in 4X4 save about $10,000 in tuition, lodging and book fees by getting some of their general studies courses out of the way at NWTC the first year as opposed to enrolling at a four-year school.
Fancy Vele, who graduated from Gresham Community School in May, loves the program and hopes that more students will take advantage of it after high school.
“All the staff and the teachers are really helpful. They know all of our names, and it makes me feel really good that they take the time to say hello to you,” Vele said. “It’s a small facility here, which is really helpful. You’re not wandering around looking for your class and asking a bunch of people.”
Elizabeth Bartz, a psychology instructor for NWTC, said the 4X4 format allows teachers to spend more time on a subject than if the class met once or twice a week.
“We’re seeing each other for four days out of the week, so if something is going on, we can gauge them a little better,” Bartz said. “For four weeks, you’re getting pretty close.”
November 5, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Grants will help fill in-demand jobs” – OSHKOSH – Some local colleges are working together to addressed the supposed manufacturing skills gap.
Thanks to a grant, three new engineering technology degrees will help train students to fill in-demand jobs.
Educating engineers of the future is the goal behind three new engineering technology programs.
“This was brought to the universities to fill a need to have bachelor prepared engineering technologists,” said John Koker, UW-Oshkosh.
In a program that could start as early as the spring of 2014, students would enroll in one of three new technology degree programs in electrical, environmental and mechanical engineering. Students could do the first two years of the four-year program at any of the four Northeast Wisconsin technical colleges, seven UW System schools or the College of the Menominee Nation. The students would then have to enroll at UW-Oshkosh or UW-Green Bay for the final two years of the program.
“This is something we really want to provide for our students and we want to provide it in a convenient way, a really high quality program,” said Koker.
The collaboration between schools in Northeast Wisconsin began more than three years ago. The programs will bring students and employers together to work side by side in training the next generation of engineers. A $2 million grant from the UW System will help hire the faculty and provide the equipment and facilities.
“This individual can solve problems, help transform industries and create new opportunities to innovate. So it’s a very much hands-on, high-demand, high-quality degree here,” said Linda Bartelt, executive director at Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance.
“Then they take that broad based skill that they have learned at the university and they go to a company and they can be trained and learn the specific needs of that individual company,” said Koker.
To fill high tech jobs in in-demand fields.
The programs have been approved by the University of Wisconsin System and are expected to receive accreditation status in the next few weeks.
November 4, 2013
From fox11online.com: “NWTC architecture challenge gives back” – GREEN BAY – Students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College are making a difference in an unusual way. Call it food by design.
They took on a challenge, to be architects with the food items to be donated later to a campus food pantry.
The five teams, made up of architectural club members, had 24 hours to build their structures. They only saw their building materials right before the competition started.
Professional architects judged the masterpieces and the top three were awarded with a plaque that will hang in the school.
After the awards were given, the nonperishable food items were packed up and donated to Shared Harvest Food Cupboard.
“The biggest thing is that it’s a big contribution giving back to our community, giving back to people that are less fortunate than we are,” said Steve Gussert, president of the NWTC Architectural Club.
The pantry is for students that don’t have enough money to buy food.
November 4, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Thriving manufacturing sector shows it stuff at Expo” – The breadth and depth of Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector was on display at the Manufacturing First Expo & Conference.
Clintonville’s Specialized Products Ltd., Middleton’s Meridian Laboratory, Green Bay’s The Lake Companies and many others demonstrated why Wisconsin is the nation’s second-largest manufacturing state. More than 16 percent of the state’s economy is tied to manufacturing, and to hear business representatives tell it Thursday at the KI Convention Center in downtown Green Bay, business is good.
Gina Webster of Specialized Products said a statement that Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector grew 35 percent during the last four years seems right.
“That sounds pretty consistent with what we experienced,” she said. “This year has been down a little, but last year we had a fantastic year.”
The positive attitude among Wisconsin manufacturers also reflects a national trend. U.S. factory activity expanded in October at the fastest pace in 2½ years. Overseas demand and healthy U.S. auto sales appear to be supporting factory output. The housing recovery is also lifting the furniture and wood products industry despite a recent slowing in home sales.
The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index for October rose to 56.4 from 56.2 in September. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
U.S. factory activity has now risen at an increasingly fast pace for five straight months, according to the ISM’s index. In October, a measure of new orders rose slightly. And a gauge of production fell but remained at a high level. Factories added jobs, though more slowly than in September.
Factories also expanded in Europe this month, though at a slightly slower pace, according to surveys in that region. Manufacturing indexes have all picked up in China, Japan, and South Korea.
The overseas strength is boosting demand for U.S. factories. A measure of export orders jumped to its highest level in nearly a year and a half in October, the ISM report said.
Meridian Laboratory in Middleton is representative of many small Wisconsin businesses that do precision work for global distribution. A quarter of its rotary-electrical products go to Korea and 20 percent to Japan. It has a growing presence in China, and the rest goes to customers throughout the United States. The company has 11 employees. Most of them have been with the company for 20 years or more.
The company’s willingness to do small precision orders fills a niche, said Sven Krause, new business development manager.
“We are small, specialized and specific,” he said.
Specialized of Clintonville specializes in wire-harness assembly, electromechanical assemblies, soldering, mold production and prototyping, among other things. The company has 130 employees.
“Probably our biggest problem is we’ve grown so fast in 20 years,” Webster said.
For The Lake Companies, the challenge is finding workers with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and manufacturing experience. The software services vendor has 35 employees.
“We have always been challenged at that,” said Karen Sikorski, senior account manager.
One solution has been to hire former employees of customers — they don’t go after current workers — or find people with ERP experience in other industries.
Sikorski said a number of their customers are expanding, adding either work areas or employees.
Creating new manufacturing workers was one theme of Thursday’s event. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College of Green Bay and Lakeshore Technical College of Cleveland were on-site with mobile training labs, and groups of high school students toured the exhibit hall, which had more than 130 vendors.
The mobile labs allow the college to expose high school students to up-to-date equipment.
“As you drive down to the high school level, the biggest challenge you have is facilities,” said Peter Thillman, dean of workforce and economic development at Lakeshore. “That’s the big thing, to get the equipment in their hands.”
Kevin Grabian, instructor for NWTC, said jobs are available to those who want and prepare for them.
“You can come out of TC with an electromechanical degree and have your pick,” he said. “You can’t be just an electrical guy or just a mechanical guy. They want both.”
The expo was sponsored by First Business Bank-Northeast, Insight magazine and NEW Manufacturing Alliance.
October 30, 2013
From wbay.com: “Students, construction industry partner to build for the future” – Green Bay - A Green Bay non-profit group tasked with renovating and rehabbing run-down homes and neighborhoods is setting to work on a new mission, partnering with a crew you’d least expect.
At first glance, it looks like just another construction project — a garage being built behind a century-old home.
Look closer, and you’ll see the crew is far younger than most, consisting solely of juniors and seniors at Green Bay West and Southwest High Schools.
“We’ve learned how to put up the walls, rafters and headers and kind of just how it starts out,” says Southwest High School senior Xavier Massey.
It’s the result of a new partnership among the Green Bay Public School District, the Brown County Homebuilders Association, NeighborWorks Green Bay and NWTC to not only rehab a blighted property but help students focus on their futures.
“What we’re trying to achieve is give the students a clear path to the construction industry,” says Tim Denissen, NeighborWorks Green Bay project manager.
“Brown County Homebuilders was a big part of that, because there was a need for skilled laborers in the construction trades, and they really wanted to start a program like this at Green Bay Southwest and West,” says Kyle Wagner, residential construction program teacher at Green Bay West High School.
Under supervision from an experienced instructor and local contractors, the nine students are doing nearly all the work, building a new garage and renovating the foreclosure in the 300 block of Oakland Avenue back into the gem it was when built in the late 1800s.
“This home was in serious, serious trouble, but when we’re done with this, it’ll be another housing option for people in the neighborhood,” says Denissen.
And the students like knowing they’re work is making a difference.
“This is my first time actually noticing this house, but it’ll be cool when it’s all done. We can drive past and know the people that actually live here,” says West High School junior Katie Clark.
“It’ll be nice to know that I actually helped and made my community better,” adds Massey.
The students will finish the project in January.
NeighborWorks will then take over and rent out the two-family home.
October 29, 2013
From host.madison.com: “Green Bay tech students get high — we’re talking five stories — for class photo” – Class picture day for most requires combs, nonclashing outfits and an aptitude for synchronized smiling. Then there’s the electrical power distribution class at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.
Their picture day required hard hats, reflective vests, harnesses and spiked climbing boots. Leave your acrophobia at home.
Last Tuesday the group of 21 students plus instructor Dan Scheider and an aide shimmied up two telephone poles, installed some extra scaffolding, stood on horizontal bars that connect the poles and waited for the camera to click.
For them, hanging out more than five stories above ground is ho-hum.
“The guys are just fearless,” said Casey Fryda, school spokeswoman. “They were having a ball.”
Not so for the photographer. Taking the photo required Fryda rising to their level in a cherry picker. She had never been in a cherry picker. She was leery despite assurances it was a particularly safe cherry picker.
“I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t cut it in this program,” she said.
But Fryda rose to the challenge and snapped a photo quickly embraced by Facebook. It calls to mind the “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” photo of eight decades ago, in which workers sat eating lunch on a construction beam high above New York City looking nonchalant despite the altitude.
Fryda said the idea for the photo came to draw attention to the nine-month diploma program, the only one of its kind for utility-line workers in the state and one of a handful nationally.
It started in 1987 and provides nearly guaranteed employment after graduation as long as students are all right heading anywhere in the country — some get jobs close, some far — and don’t mind working in all weather at high altitude.
“You really can’t be afraid of heights and succeed in this industry,” Fryda said. “You either can do it or you can’t. You can’t fudge.”
Different students in the program had photos snapped in August of them tossing a football around while harnessed to telephone poles high above ground. The students reportedly completed a high percentage of passes from the heights, attracting the attention of utility companies and the Minnesota Vikings.
October 25, 2013
From wbay.com: “NWTC proposes to build first on campus student housing” – Green Bay -Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is looking to expand. The school and developer explain what could be a first for the Green Bay campus.
“There will be a workout facility. There will be a study area. There will be an area where (they) can even all commune and watch Packer games,” said Jim DeLeers of DeLeers Construction in De Pere.
DeLeers is developing NWTC’s first on campus housing. He showed us preliminary drawings of the four-story, privately funded and managed facility.
“There will be 100 units, approximately 200 beds in the facility, the design itself, the colors, and the brick and mortar’s design is designed specifically not to look like traditional apartment style housing,” says DeLeers.
It’s proposed to be located on the southeast corner of the campus.
College leaders say it’s what students asked for in a recent survey, particularly international students.
Only 16 of the 6,000 students on the Green Bay campus are studying from outside the country.
“A student comes here from another country, has no place to live that’s nearby, has no means of transportation, it’s a little bit discouraging to think about coming to Green Bay and not being able to be close to one’s campus,” says Vice-President for College Advancement Karen Smits.
Rahmi Arikan, 24, is a third year student from Turkey. He says he wished on campus housing was available when he arrived. He adds dorms are the first step to recruit more international students, as it would be one less thing to worry about while adjusting to a new school and culture.
“The housing is going to be a big impact to choose NWTC because of when they come over here, they have to walk through everything by themselves without any help,” says Arikan.
The school says it plans to open the student housing the fall of 2014.
NWTC is inviting residential and business neighbors to an informational meeting from 6-7 p.m. in room SC128 on Tuesday, October 29.
October 21, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Alliance works to change state’s manufacturing image, increase education” – When Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s 44-foot mobile CNC lab made an appearance at Bonduel High School, the pieces fell into place for junior Race McClone.
McClone, 16, is planning a career in manufacturing. If he becomes a mechanical engineer and welder as he proposes, it will be another in an increasing number of successes for NEW Manufacturing Alliance, NWTC and other supporters of manufacturing.
October is Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin, and that’s more than just another in a rotisserie of months with special names. Indiana and Wisconsin regularly trade positions as the top manufacturing states in the nation. Statewide, 16.1 percent of Wisconsin jobs are manufacturing related. In the 14-county NEW North region, one in every four jobs is in manufacturing.
“That is one of the largest concentrations of manufacturing in the country,” said Ann Franz, NEW Manufacturing Alliance coordinator.
The Alliance was founded in 2006 to foster collaboration between manufacturers and educators in the promotion of manufacturing and development of a future workforce.
The Manufacturing Institute, affiliated with the National Association of Manufacturers, says that workforce is growing older at a greater rate than the economy as a whole, and the lack of qualified workers is beginning to impact manufacturers’ ability to compete in the global market. It says schools are not equipping students with the appropriate skills and in the necessary disciplines to contribute to the manufacturing economy.
The Institute says U.S. schools are not producing enough engineers, and the manufacturing workforce is growing older and is not as well educated as other sectors.
The Alliance is working to change that in Northeastern Wisconsin. It arranges tours of manufacturing plants — it sponsored 11 visits for students and teachers in October — and sends manufacturing representatives into classrooms. It is developing manufacturing-related math problems for use in middle schools, provided $20,000 in college scholarships last year, publishes a magazine, produces videos and hosts the annual Manufacturing First Expo & Conference, to which 200 students are invited.
Franz’s salary is paid by the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, which also helped pay for creation of NWTC’s Computer Integrated Manufacturing mobile lab. Much of the rest of the work is done by volunteers on five Alliance task forces.
Manufacturing jobs pay well, but an enduring image of workers standing on assembly lines doing the same things over and over again is discouraging to digital-age students, not to mention their parents. It doesn’t help that the image is totally inaccurate.
Nels Lawrence, technology education instructor at Kaukauna High School, said plant tours dispel notions of manufacturing as “dumb, dull and dirty.”
Northeast Wisconsin Chambers Coalition’s 2012-13 Fox Valley Wage & Benefits Study found that intermediate-level electrical engineers in Brown County earned an average $62,766 per year and electrical engineers at Fox Valley companies earned an average annual wage of $71,109. Again, the number of responding companies was not large (six in one case, seven in the other) and the respondents were self-selected. The average wage for senior electrical engineers was $91,028.
“One employer said to me, ‘You want to recruit kids. Take a look at what’s parked out in are parking lot,’” Lawrence said.
Franz and Lawrence said manufacturers are desperate to grow the workforce.
“More and more human resources directors are contacting me directly, looking to contact 16- and 17-year-olds,” Lawrence said. “If I had more students, I could find more openings.”
Franz said the increase in engagement between employers and schools is significant. Schools are calling the alliance — a 180-degree turnaround from seven years ago — and asking how they can partner.
As a sign of progress, Franz said NWTC graduated 19 welders in 2000, 28 welders in 2005 and 119 welders in 2010. It has more than 200 people enrolled in welding classes now, and last year enrollment in its manufacturing classes was up 19 percent.
Welding is just a tiny slice of manufacturing jobs, though in considerable demand in the region. Surveys by NWTC also identified electrical engineers, among others, in high demand.
“The message is resonating,” Franz said. “NWTC graduates more manufacturing degree holders than any other technical college in the state.”
Bonduel High School’s McClone had taken computer-aided-design and civil engineering classes in tech ed, but the arrival of NWTC’s mobile lab took his interest to a new level. The school also has a new welding lab.
“I’m really interested in the CNC program. If Bonduel didn’t have the trailer here, I probably wouldn’t have known about the CNC at all,” he said, talking on his cellphone from the lab.
He said Bonduel’s tech ed teachers themselves are enthusiastic about manufacturing, and promotional efforts are beginning to make an impact.
“People are starting to see this as a great opportunity,” he said. “There are all kinds of jobs. It can be pretty much anything.”
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “NWTC, state officials optimistic on future of manufacturing in Wisconsin” – For years the manufacturing sector, along with the state and educational leaders, have been working to attract future employees to pursue skilled jobs available in areas heavy in skilled trade jobs such as Northeastern Wisconsin.
On Tuesday, education and government officials said gains are being made in attracting potential workers, and in changing attitudes and perceptions about 21st century manufacturing operations.
“We’re seeing a shift among parents, teachers, administrators of educational institutions and young people toward the idea of manufacturing as the future of the state of Wisconsin, not only the history,” Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said after touring manufacturing-related classrooms at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
“That’s a really important shift because we don’t have a lot of time. The skills gap is pressing on the back of these employers right now.”
That isn’t being helped by the fact that older skilled workers are among the baby boomers exiting the workforce.
Kleefisch was at the Green Bay college as part of an event marking Manufacturing Month in October.
“I feel comfortable and confident in seeing more young people choose careers in manufacturing,” she said. “There is still some work to be done in crashing stereotypes that have been around for decades … but there are a lot of young men and women who realize these are great opportunities.”
Displaced workers are also looking at manufacturing jobs as potential careers, Kleefisch said.
NWTC is using a number of tools to reach students at the primary education level, including a mobile lab — a long trailer equipped with with real-world milling equipment — teaching the skills associated with computer numeric control milling. It has plans to soon roll out similar labs, including a smart electrical grid mobile lab, with ties to manufacturing.
The college continues to work with a number area high schools to help create career paths for students that help address the needs of regional employers. It is also working to beef up the amount of instruction and facilities it offers college students.
“Since 2007 we’re expanded welding half a dozen times and we have roughly 200 students,” said Mark Weber, NWTC’s dean of trades & engineering technologies. “Machine tool will expand this year with a $1.2 million expansion to add more lab space in the Green Bay campus. We’ve hired faculty to meet demand in those areas.”
The college saw a 19.6 percent increase in manufacturing-related enrollments last year, he said. It also produced the most manufacturing graduates in the Wisconsin Technical College System.
“We do have a skills challenge in America and Wisconsin, but because of the efforts of (educational leaders) and collaboration of the technical colleges and K-12 schools … and employers and economic development partners, we’re moving in the right direction,” said Reggie Newson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
October 11, 2013
From ehextra.com: “Calling it a career” – MARINETTE – Pat O’Hara calls today the golden age for technical colleges because the skills students leave with are those employers seek.
“It’s really job-specific technical skills that are a premium in the workforce right now,” he said.
O’Hara added that the workforce has changed significantly during the past 20 years.
“The demand locally, statewide and nationally is that everyone has some post high-school education but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree,” he said. “It could be something even more short-term such as a one- or two-year program.”
O’Hara, 63, who recently retired as campus dean of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College-Marinette after 141⁄2 years, will miss his colleagues the most.
“I’ve worked with some awfully good professional people who cared about their community,” he said.
It’s not the exemplary star student who comes to mind when O’Hara thinks about his tenure at the college.
“It’s the people who really needed the extra help you could affect at a time when they’re in need whether creating a GED program at the jail, working with dislocated workers or starting an emergency fund for students who needed some financial assistance,” he said.
O’Hara, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a master’s degree in education from Drake University in Des Moines.
He said education wasn’t just a job but a calling in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
“So we were saving the world,” O’Hara said. “It’s hard to lose that mentality that you were put on earth to save the world even though you knew you couldn’t.”
Students had a limited menu of options when he arrived in June 1999.
“Now we’re really a full service, comprehensive college campus,” O’Hara said.
Besides offering more programs and a larger curriculum for students to choose from, NWTC-Marinette also boasts a broader range of support services including academic and financial aid advising, counseling and testing and career services.
“And, of course, I did not do that alone in any way, shape or form,” O’Hara said, laughing. “These are things that happened while I was there. You never do anything alone. There’s no white horse, trust me.”
O’Hara just received a State of Wisconsin Citation by the Senate which recognizes his career and contributions for the past 26 years. During his tenure at NWTC-Marinette, O’Hara added new programs in health, business and trades; developed training programs for dislocated workers, particularly during plant closings during the 2008 recession; worked with the American Association For Community Colleges on bringing grants to the school to promote manufacturing careers and entrepreneurship; oversaw $4.1 million in NWTC building additions to the Marinette campus and North Coast Center on Main Street and increased campus enrollments by 75 percent.
NWTC-Marinette currently has about 430 full-time equivalency students and a total enrollment of more than 3,200 students. In 1999, it had about 250 full-time equivalency students and a total enrollment of about 1,200 students. The college also has about a 90 percent job placement rate in an occupation related to a student’s training within the first six months of graduation.
During retirement, O’Hara will serve as president of the board of directors at the Marinette-Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Tri-City Area United Way Campaign Committee and intake coordinator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program through the college and United Way.
He’d also like to return to oil painting, sailing, kayaking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. O’Hara wants to spend more time with his nine grandchildren, too.
“Unfortunately, I like to eat too much and I didn’t seem to abandon that,” O’Hara said, laughing.
October 8, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Governor unveils new job search tool at NWTC” – GREEN BAY – During a visit to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College on Monday, Governor Walker unveiled a new job search tool.
The governor said the skill explorer is a free tool from the state’s department of workforce development.
The tool lets people search for jobs which match their skills and training.
Governor Walker said the program will also help employers find workers that match the skills they need.
“I think we built the positive environment by which we improved the business climate; we’re helping put people back to work. It’s why you see such a vibrant lab here is because there are jobs available; our next big quest is to make sure people have the skills they need to fill those jobs,” said Governor Walker.
The website also explains the available jobs, including pay, and training or background knowledge needed.
October 8, 2013
From nbc26.com: “Students Use Mobile Tech Lab” – HOWARD-SUAMICO — Technology is on the move today at one local school.
Students at Bay Port High School in Howard-Suamico got a visit from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Mobile Tech Lab today. It features state-of-the-art equipment and programs used in the manufacturing industry. The goal of the visit is to spark interest in the field while at the same time, getting students familiar with the equipment.
“We’ve gained some additional enrollments within the program and these enrollments will eventually lead to these students going out and working in the industry,” says CNC Lab Technician Jerry Bronkhorst.
AT&T also made a donation that would allow students to get a semester of training in the mobile lab this fall.
October 4, 2013
From wbay.com: “Middle School Girls Take on “Man’s Work” – Green Bay - Middle school girls got the chance Tuesday to learn about welding and robotics at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
It’s called “Women at Work,” and it’s an effort to get more young women interested in typically male-dominated fields.
More than 100 girls from middle schools in the area spent the morning learning about trades like welding with a simulator.
“It gives feedback electronically to the instructor and to the student. It’s actually mechanical movement, so they get that effect,” NWTC welding instructor Jon Russell explained.
In another session, the students use robots to learn about animation.
“We took a robot and we were picking up garbage and deciding if it was trash or recyclable,” Bayview Middle School student Madelyn Jorgensen described.
The goal is to give young women the opportunity to explore careers in these types of trades which typically attract men.
The girls also had the chance to meet with employers to learn about the different trades.
“There are lots of job opportunities for these women in these different trades areas. They’re able to get paid pretty well at some really hands-on type jobs that are really kind of fun,” Angie Arneson, a technology and engineering teacher in Denmark Middle School said.
According to NWTC, only three to five percent of students in the welding program are women.
But these students say they’re inspired by Tuesday’s workshop.
“Girls can definitely do these jobs. Girls have better hand-eye coordination I’ve heard. So things like welding where you have to be very specific would probably be better for girls,” Denmark Middle School student Ellie Babiash said.
September 23, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Construction of seventh student-built home begins” – High school students from Luxemburg-Casco, Sturgeon Bay and Kewaunee participated in the seventh annual groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 16 as part of the home construction project. The Door-Kewaunee Business Education Partnership (DKBEP), the Door County Builders Association and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College support this program which gives the students hands-on construction education and a home for a new family.
The new home, at E2337 Sunset Road in Luxemburg, has its foundation laid, and building began on Sept. 17. Students will be working with licensed local contractors to do all the aspects of the construction work including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and more.
The 2,300-square-foot, five-bedroom home is expected to be completed in June, when the school year comes to an end. The students will work on the house or in the trailer that acts as a classroom from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. every day for the duration of the school year. At the end of it, each will have earned 16 transcribed credits from NWTC’s wood technology program.
The owners of the home, Brian and Cindy Peot, heard about the project though the Door County Builders Association and got on board.
“It’s really exciting, I really am glad to give these kids this opportunity,” Brian Peot said. “I wish I had this chance when I was in high school.”
Tara LeClair of the DKBEP is happy with how the program is teaching so many students.
“They learn in the classroom and they can apply their knowledge right away by working in the field,” LeClair said.
This is the third home to be built in Kewaunee County and the second in Luxemburg. More than 80 students have passed through the program and around 80 percent have moved onto something related to the trades including NWTC, four-year colleges, military or construction-related employment. No females have entered the program.
“I really would like to see the dynamic of a female student on site. None have applied, but we are encouraging it,” LeClair said. “Girls are said to be more detail-oriented, and it would be neat to see if that holds true.”
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., was also in the audience of the groundbreaking.
During the presentation, LeClair informed the group that this program allows the students to learn life skills including critical thinking, problem solving, productivity, communication and accountability.
Jeff Schlag was hired to be the instructor on site to work with the boys. He announced to the group that he was inspired to apply for the job after working with students who participate in Habitat for Humanity in Green Bay.
“I love working with these guys, and I know they want to be out here,” Schlag said. “They are not going to lose what they learn here. Hopefully they are the start of rebuilding the quality skilled labor force.”
Kewaunee High School student builder Calen Delleman made a statement to represent all of the student workers and said they are looking forward to getting going with the project.
“We appreciate the subcontractors and schools for giving us the opportunity,” Delleman said. “Being on this site is a great experience for us and it is going to stay with us for the rest of our lives.”
August 30, 2013
From nwtc.edu: “NWTC medical program achieves national distinction” – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has received a Certificate of Merit from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting for achieving a graduate pass rate above 90 percent on the national Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credentialing exam.
NWTC is one of only 152 colleges in the nation to achieve the distinction.
Students in NWTC’s Surgical Technologist program prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments, equipment, drapes and solutions. They also provide safe patient care, check charts, assist the surgeon mid-surgery, and help transfer patients to the recovery room among a variety of other duties.
In a 2011-2012 Graduate Follow-up, Surgical Technologist graduates reported job placement rates of nearly 90 percent, working as surgical technologists, central supply technicians, private scrub technologists, and claims approvers. Median wages for graduates was over $36,000.
NWTC’s Surgical Technologist technical diploma is a three-semester program that is completed in 37 credits. For more information on the Surgical Technologist technical diploma and other programs and degrees, visit http://www.nwtc.edu/programs.
August 26, 2013
From Fox11online.com: “Back to School 2013: Local families try to keep college costs down” – Some families in our area say how they’ll be able to pay for college is a major factor in where their children attend school. But are some people being priced out of a higher education?
President Obama announced major college financial aid changes last week.
He says it’s to stop middle class families from being “priced out” of an education.
Some families in our area say how they’ll be able to pay for college is a major factor in where they attend school.
Like many, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College student Anna Sieving says she’s struggled paying for college.
“I started at UW-Milwaukee originally, and when finances got tight back in 2008, I ended up stopping my attendance there,” she said.
And cost was a major factor for Sieving to go back to school.
“I was looking at UWGB versus NWTC. It was half the price basically,” said Sieving.
“We’re a little more affordable than some other college options. We’re about $130 a credit,” said Mark Franks, director of financial aid for NWTC.
NWTC says many students eventually transfer to four-year UW schools after two years.
On UW-Green Bay’s campus, prospective student Kelly Vanderloop says living at home in Kaukauna might be an option to keep costs down.
“I do have a job, and I have been saving as much as I can. And I will have to get financial aid because there’s no way my parents can pay for it, and I don’t want to be really, really badly in debt,” said Vanderloop.
Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education says 57 percent of students receive financial aid.
Here in Northeast Wisconsin, that number is much higher.
At UW-Green Bay, 70 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid.
At NWTC, it’s 80 percent.
At St. Norbert, 98 percent of students receive financial aid.
There, the average student pays $40 thousand a year for tuition, room and board and fees.
The average financial aid award at St. Norbert is $26 thousand a year.
But the remaining $14 thousand that a student would be left to cover nearly equals the cost of attending a UW school and staying on campus.
St. Norbert College has one of the highest tuition costs for higher education in our area. So we asked families touring campus whether they feel they’re being priced out of an education.
“I don’t know if being priced out is a big issue, but going to a good school is always a big factor,” said Nate Stolte, a prospective student from New Berlin.
“I think that is the case for some students if they don’t have the support systems whether they be family or school or guidance, letting them know the resources available,” said his mom, Tracey.
Across town at NWTC, some students have a different view.
“Most definitely. I think a lot of students won’t be able to attend college because the college costs are going up, and it’s not like the wages are going up,” said Sieving.
We spoke to the experts, to find out what kind of help is available.
“I think if families prepare for it, they can certainly keep that cost down and keep that loan cost down,” said Sue Steeno, a financial aid counselor at UWGB.
Steeno says all students should fill out a FAFSA form, or a free application for student aid.
That will determine the eligibility for Pell Grants, scholarships and student loans.
“Pell Grants are the biggest federal grants. It goes to the neediest of the neediest students,” said Jeff Zahn, St. Norbert College financial aid counselor.
Zahn says 23 percent of students there receive Pell Grants.
But more higher-income families have been applying for scholarships.
“Even someone who earns 100 thousand dollars a year, if you’re looking at a cost of something of 40 thousand dollars a year, that’s a big commitment from them, right?” said Zahn.
And before they commit to a college, parents and students say they must calculate those costs, versus the eventual rewards of a higher education.
August 5, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “No ordinary shop class” – Two years ago, Algoma, Luxemburg-Casco and Kewaunee School Districts were presented with the option to use a mobile CNC (computer numerical control) lab out of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, but none took the option.
Even before NWTC offered the mobile lab, Kewaunee County districts had been working hard to create top-notch CNC programs for their students.
CNC machines are automated drilling tools that make precision industrial parts with direction from coded instructions. They allow manufacturers to design and create parts quickly and with accuracy. CNC machines are primarily used in milling.
“The mobile lab is excellent and has great technology, but the rotation design would not meet our student’s needs,” Luxemburg-Casco Superintendent Pat Saunders said. “Our students show substantial interest in the subject matter, so we decided to invest more in our own technological education program.”
Cost of the mobile lab was approximately $360,000 with additional costs of about $10,000 per school per year for its use. Schools that use the lab would have access to it for about a half-day per week.
Algoma School District has a goal for their CNC lab to become a regional learning center for students, workers and businesses. Nick Cochart, principal and athletic director of Algoma High School, has been persistent in improving the technical education curriculum since he became principal two years ago.
“We provide an opportunity for our students, and it is some of the best money we have ever spent,” Cochart said.
The Luxemburg-Casco School Board allots money each year to technical education program improvements, Saunders said.
“We (the district) looked seriously into the mobile lab, but it was too expensive and it packs up and leaves,” said Ron Vandermause, tech ed teacher at L-C High School. “We are pushing these classes, because the students like what they are doing and they have a lot of job opportunities that offer high paying wages.”
Preparing for college
The proximity to NWTC has proven to be beneficial to each of the schools, even if they have not taken the option to work with the mobile lab. Algoma High School is set up within a dual credit program where students earn college and high school credits in multiple subjects, including English, math and science. The CNC program gives them the ability to earn up to 12 college credits transcribed to NWTC.
“If we didn’t have the equipment, we would have to be part of the mobile lab,” Algoma Principal Mike Holz said. “NWTC requires that we have the proper machines and courses available to cooperate with them, and we do.”
Kewaunee High School also offers transcribed classes from NWTC where students can earn up to 10 credits with the CNC classes. Dual credits for NWTC are available to Kewaunee students in other studies including business, agricultural and family and consumer education.
Although no credit hours for college level courses can be earned at Luxemburg-Casco High School, the teachers are striving to prepare their students for a future in employment and education by closely communicating with professors at NWTC, Saunders said.
L-C considers the CNC classes to be essential to preparing its students for college. Giving students the ability to read complex technical manuals and learning math skills are an essential in the curriculum.
“Students should be college- and career-ready,” Saunders said.
Statistics show Kewaunee County students have taken advantage of NWTC’s proximity and dual-credit options. According to Anne Kamps, dean of learning solutions at NWTC, 20.4 percent of Algoma students, 30.52 percent of L-C students and 32.53 percent of Kewaunee students enrolled at NWTC after graduating from high school in the 2010-11 school year.
Benefiting the community
Not just high school students can benefit from school districts having CNC equipment in their hallways.
Algoma School District has provided opportunities to local businesses to train or certify their workers in their lab. Members of the community who are in the field and are looking to update their skill set or learn a new one are also welcome to take classes, at no charge.
“I think that schools should be open all the time,” Cochart said. “If someone needs some education or help, we should strive to be that resource.”
NWTC classes hosted at Algoma High School are also open to the public, but they would have to pay for the credit hours.
Students in Algoma have also created their own business, called Algoma Wolf Tech (AWT), in partnership with Precision Machine, Olsen Fabrication and CTI Hospitality where they do subcontracting work. The 25 to 40 students involved with AWT design and create products for people or businesses in the community such as the city of Algoma and Algoma Long Term Care.
“It is a very diverse group of students involved, which makes it really interesting,” Cochart said. “Machinists, fabricators, accountants, marketers and designers all have a part.”
At Luxemburg-Casco, educators have found people and businesses in the community have different needs for CNC products.
“We created the lettering for the Kewaunee County Rescue Boat, vinyl stickers for windows and plenty of laser engraving. And we do it voluntarily,” Vandermause said. “The only way we would ask for money is if the materials cost was high.”
Kewaunee High School’s CNC program is still in its infancy, but they are focused on making more courses transcribed for NWTC at this time.
“We want to create opportunities for our students to earn dual credits,” Holz said. “The CNC courses are currently based on in-school projects, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t have the opportunity to partner with local businesses as the program unfolds. We are very open to investigate those possibilities, but we want to lay down our educational foundation.”
August 5, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “High school CNC programs expand beyond NWTC’s mobile lab” – One of two local school districts at the forefront of bringing a mobile computer numerical control (CNC) lab into existence has decided to purchase its own in-house machines.
In August and September 2011, the $360,000, 44-foot CNC mobile lab was rolled out amid much fanfare. The lab contains a full complement of computerized tools that are used for cutting precision parts. The original plan was for the state-of-the-art lab to be used by school districts, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and local business as an educational and/or training tool.
The lab also allows high school students to train and earn credits toward certification in machine tool and later he or she can earn a CNC certificate, said Jerry Bronkhorst, mobile lab technician and driver. The creation of the lab was a collaborative effort among local school districts, NWTC, local businesses and the Door County Economic Development Corp. The idea originated at Southern Door School District when technical education teacher Dave LeBrun looked into updating the high school’s CNC equipment.
The Bay Area Workforce Development Board and the Wisconsin Job Center funded $250,000 of the lab. Teachers from Southern Door and Sturgeon Bay also went through training to become certified to teach CNC related courses.
Of the four mainland Door County school districts, only Sturgeon Bay and Southern Door regularly used the lab since its unveiling.
During its July meeting the Sturgeon Bay School Board approved purchasing the district’s own CNC equipment. One machine will be purchased using money from a $50,000 grant, and up to an additional $36,000 of the second machine is slated to come from the district’s fund balance. Technical education teachers Brian Pahl and Seth Wilson, who are both certified to teach CNC-related courses, are looking into grants to raise an additional $10,000 for the purchase of the machines.
Students will be able to take CNC classes and have those credits count toward certification if they go on to NWTC or another technical college.
According to Bronkhorst, it costs $5,000 a semester or $10,000 a year to use the mobile lab.
Sturgeon Bay High School Principal Bob Nickel said having CNC the machines on campus will allow the district to use the equipment for more classes on a regular basis.
“I would say that (the mobile lab) was a great idea, but in reality it did not work out well (for Sturgeon Bay),” Nickel said. The lab was always meant to be shared, and that restricted what the district could do with its students to a couple of hours during the week.
Several school districts in other counties plan to continue using the lab next year, including Bonduel, Bronkhorst said.
According to Superintendent Joe Stutting, another plus to purchasing the machines is that even if there are budget cuts in the future, Sturgeon Bay will not have to decide whether to cut its CNC program because it now owns the equipment.
This past spring the Southern Door School District was faced with that very dilemma when it decided to cut the mobile lab fee from the 2013-14 school year budget. At the time the district was working to close a budget deficit of approximately $700,000. Southern Door does own some CNC equipment.
“Since (the cuts were) unveiled in May, we have been having talks with a community donor who has stepped forward and agrees that this is a very important experience,” Superintendent Patti Vickman said. The $10,000 donation only covers the coming school year. The donor has chosen to stay anonymous.
Even with districts moving toward not taking part in the lab or purchasing their own equipment, the lab is not “fizzling out,” said Tara LeClair, manager for the Door Kewaunee Business and Education Partnership.
“Actually, I’m still excited about it,” LeClair said.
She admits that the lab is “a very expensive expenditure” but one of the reasons school districts have moved toward purchasing their own equipment is because the lab has educated them about the importance of CNC technology.
Bronkhorst said he has seen an uptick in students go on to attend NWTC to finish up their certification after working in the mobile lab. Six students out of a recent class of 10 chose to move on to become certified.
“It’s an exciting program. We’ve touched a lot of students and brought a lot of exposure to the program since (the labs) conception,” he said.
From fox11online.com: “On Special Assignment: 911 Center” – GREEN BAY – After struggling for years to maintain staffing levels where emergency calls roll in 24/7, Brown County’s 911 Communications Center is making changes to improve worker conditions, while also looking for ways to save taxpayer money.
The Brown County 911 Communications Center employs 62 workers when fully staffed, but maintaining that number has been difficult in recent years.
When one dispatcher quits it takes time and money to find and adequately train a replacement. And while that takes place, other dispatchers are forced to work longer hours leading to increased stress. And for many it’s been a breaking point.
“The stress from the calls, it’s kind of like getting punched in the stomach and then saying thank you can I have another,” said Jason Lemmens, who quit his dispatcher job with Brown County back in 2011. Lemmens spoke out during FOX 11′s initial On Special Assignment report that aired in early February.
Fourteen quit in all during 2011. In 2012 the center saw 15 dispatchers go. Late in the year Cullen Peltier was brought in as interim director to fix the staffing problems that led to rising costs, and poor morale which raised public safety concerns.
“I do think they have a valid concern, when you have new trainees, until they find their feet, find their groove,” Krystal DuBois said during a January 2012 interview. DuBois is a former Brown County dispatcher who quit last year after 11 years on the job.
Peltier disputed former workers’ claims that trading experienced dispatchers for their rookie replacements was putting anyone in danger.
But he did not dispute the added one million dollar plus cost to fully train the large influx of new dispatchers. Back in January he promised changes would be coming. Six months later I returned to talk to Peltier to hold him accountable.
“We looked at the figures then and you were at a 24 percent turnover rate, the national average was 18 percent and you told me then you hoped to get down to 10 to 12 percent,” Mark Leland asked Peltier.
“Yes, that’s still a goal we’re doing our best to alleviate some of the turnover,” said Peltier.
In fact during the first six months of 2013 Peltier acknowledges four dispatchers have quit. If the second half of the year sees a similar number leave, that would put the turnover rate just about on target at 12.9 percent–nearly half of what it was last year.
“Well you know I’d like to see zero turnover but unfortunately in this profession we are going to see some turnover,” said Peltier.
As was the case six months ago for our initial report, current workers we contacted declined comment on camera. But Peltier says workers have been a big part of the solution. They were solicited to help and came up with a new shift schedule to cut down on overtime and working weekends thereby reducing stress and improving morale.
“The majority of staff prefers that schedule so we’re going to go to that,” said Peltier.
Instead of 8 hour shifts that oftentimes were inflated to 12 to cover holes in the schedule, workers starting next year will work 10 or 12 hour overlapping shifts. The schedule will eliminate 600 work hours right off the bat. And that will save money.
So far this year with fewer vacancies Peltier says 1,000 overtime hours have been cut compared to this time last year. And additional taxpayer savings will start coming in thanks to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
“In terms of saving costs for the taxpayers I think it makes a big difference,” said John Flannery, a former Brown County Sheriff’s Deputy who is now an instructor at NWTC. This summer Flannery taught the school’s first class in emergency dispatching.
By having the school prepare prospective hires for the 911 Communications Center, the county stands to save the cost of that initial first week of what is now paid training.
“We looked at the cost savings that could come through having them come to this course before they get hired so it was kind of a win-win for everybody,” said Flannery.
Ten students completed the course last month. Another class is set for next month. After passing a national exam, the students are certified as emergency dispatchers.
Peltier says many more weeks of training are needed before new hires can field 9-1-1 calls at the communications center. But with applicants spending their own time and money on that first week of training at NWTC, he says it shows added commitment.
“I think that’s a good thing. I think it shows they have the drive to want to do this job and they also have a better understanding of the job coming in,” said Peltier.
Currently the class is not a requirement to apply for a dispatcher position with Brown County, but Peltier says in time that could change. And he’d even like to see more training completed before getting on the payroll, much like is the case for police officers and firefighters.
“It’s map reading, comprehension, typing data entry, and we want to have them focus their students on the tasks we need them to complete before we have them come in and take the test,” said Peltier.
Peltier says the county realistically could save tens of thousands of dollars a year depending on the amount of hiring needed.
The Communications Center is currently accepting applications for the four fulltime openings. Interviews are expected to be scheduled in the next couple of weeks, with those who successfully completed the NWTC class given priority in the hiring process.
Click here for NWTC emergency dispatcher course offering.
July 18, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Tips to keep energy bills low amid heat” – GREEN BAY – At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, when temperatures go up monitoring energy use is a minute by minute activity.
“We don’t want to set a new usage level,” said Dan Seidl, the director of facilities at NWTC.
“We have a link to our electric meters right on our system,” said Larry Maciejewski, the maintenance manager at NWTC. “So we set these alarms up and we know when we are getting close to that new higher limit.”
When levels get too high, a college-wide memo is sent to employees to reduce energy use. They’re encouraged to turn off lights or equipment that’s not being used at that time.
“There are classes going on, so it can be difficult,” said Seidl.
Results can be almost instant. Within minutes of a memo being sent out this week, energy use at the school dropped 6%.
At your home, similar energy saving moves can keep your bills in line.
“Basically anything you do in your house that adds heat to it, you should avoid when it’s a hot, humid day like today,” said Kerry Spees with Wisconsin Public Service.
That includes limiting baking and laundry. You can also save by closing your curtains and keeping lights off. Increasing the air conditioning temperature also helps, especially if you’re gone for a long period of time.
“If it’s only going to be a short period of time, it’s probably not going to make any difference if you mess with the thermostat,” said Spees.
While the small changes can save you a few bucks at home, at larger buildings like NWTC they can mean tens of thousands of dollars.
“There’s a lot of money on the line with this,” said Seidl.