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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

From pbn.com: “Mobile lab considered for marketing, training” — Gerald J. Bronkhorst, 45, of Suamico, Wis., trains students from six high schools in northeast Wisconsin in an advanced-manufacturing mobile lab – a model Rhode Island educators are considering emulating.

The Iraq War veteran decided to attend Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wis., to earn certificates in advanced manufacturing when he got back to the United States in 2006, and five years ago was hired by the college as a lab technician, he told Providence Business News in a phone interview.

For the past three years, he has worked as the mobile-lab technician with a few teachers and as many as 12 high school students at a time in the mobile lab, which travels about 50 miles within the school district and cost about $300,000, Bronkhorst said. The high schools pay about $5,000 for every two semesters of use, he said. Precise costs for the lab itself, a trailer hitched to a commercial grade pickup truck, and its operating costs were unavailable.

“If I can convince some of these kids to go out and learn a trade and get a job, that’s a huge win,” said Bronkhorst, the lab technician.

Rhode Island educators found out about a Michigan mobile lab just being implemented this summer and fall that is based on the Wisconsin model, and are actively exploring how such a vehicle might be used in connection with programs at the University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.

Chris Semonelli, one of several co-directors in the Newport County Mentor Co-Op, met on June 27 with URI President David M. Dooley to further the conversation. Semonelli said he focused on the collaboration between North Central Michigan College, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, and a local manufacturer, Precision Edge Surgical Products Inc. of Boyne City, Mich.

From haywardwi.com: “Demand rises for home health care workers” – by Patty Murray, Wisconsin Public Radio – The move to keep older people in their own homes as long as possible has meant more demand for home health care workers — a job that is not only tough, but that can be low-paying as well.

Home health care workers go into an older or disabled person’s home to help them with tasks that range from the mundane, like shoe-tying, to the intimate, like baths and going to the toilet.

It’s work that Shelly Waltman enjoys.

“It’s not like a job over there,” said Waltman. “It’s just like having another family out there.”

Waltman is a certified home health provider who works through N.E.W. Curative, a nonprofit based in Green Bay. Four mornings each week, she works with a couple who are in their 70s.

“Right now I wouldn’t call them ‘elderly,’ but aging,” she said.

The husband has Alzheimer’s disease. She gets him cleaned and dressed and monitors his medication.

Waltman has done the work for years and said it takes patience and compassion.

“One minute, like a lamb — the next minute, you could be getting hit,” she said. “So, you’ve got to be able to take the tough with the good.”

Caregivers like Waltman might be hired by family members who need a break, or they could be the client’s main source of help. They can work through private companies, or places like N.E.W. Curative.

All in-home caregivers need some level of certification. Green Bay’s Northeast Wisconsin Technical College graduates 700 certified nursing assistants each year. Students can also get a short personal care worker certification.

Cindy Theys, the school’s associate dean in the health sciences department, said the work is rewarding, but nursing assistants deal with people when they’re not at their best.

“You can’t curl up your nose if something doesn’t smell pretty, because that’s what is going to happen,” said Theys. “Even the ability to touch other people — there are people who are very uncomfortable being touched, and there’s people who are very uncomfortable touching others. But you will have to be touching people.”

NWTC claims an 85 to 90 percent placement rate for its health care graduates. Starting jobs pay between $10 to $12 an hour.

Those numbers sound good to Erica Huettl, who is pursuing a registered nursing degree. She is looking to get experience dealing with patients and is considering a job as a nursing assistant in either an in-home setting or at a nursing home. She said there’s a lot to choose from, and it’s a good way to get experience — but not to get rich.

“Obviously, with more education and the higher you go with nursing, that pay goes up,” she said.

Using a CNA as a launching pad can pay off over time. A recent NWTC survey of its graduates shows RNs can make about $50,000 dollars a year within five years of graduation.

For those who aren’t pursuing a higher degree of nursing, home health care seems to be more of a lifestyle than a career. Shelly Waltman said it’s easy to get attached to clients, even those who are rather difficult.

“Watching somebody fail; knowing that some types of the things they’re going through will progress,” she said. “(Knowing) how hard of a time the family has with it and being able to empathize. Because I did have a grandma who had issues like that. That’s the hard part.”

 

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Giving back through flowers” — In a time of uncertainty, the Lions Clubs local to Kewaunee County helped Cathei Mincheski and her fiance, Russ Naze, with Naze’s medical bills when he was diagnosed with cancer. More than a year has gone by and Mincheski finds herself working to give back to the community that helped her.

Now facing graduation from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Leadership Development Program on May 9, Mincheski is finishing part of her coursework, which involves a “capstone project” that must encompass service learning.

She decided to use the skills she has acquired from the program to give back to the Lions Clubs. Mincheski decided to host a community plant sale at the Algoma Youth Club May 30. Funds raised will be donated in the name of the Luxemburg, Casco and Algoma Lions Clubs to fund children attending Lions Club Camp in Rosholt.

“If I can help them like they helped us, that is all I really want to do,” Mincheski said.

Looking at the project objectively and deciding that she wanted to incorporate more into the plan, Mincheski contacted Algoma Elementary School to see if the students would be able to help plant the seeds.

“They are our future leaders, and this gets them involved with community service, which hopefully, when they become adults, they will continue to practice what they learned as a child,” Mincheski said.

Algoma Elementary was more than willing to contribute the students’ talents and time. Coincidentally, the school had just received a grant for a fourth-grade science class to learn about planting and growing. Mrs. Tamara Smith’s fourth-grade class started planting two weeks ago with guidance from Mincheski and Smith.

The grant specifies the children are to do all of the work, including determining how much soil and water to use. Fourth graders will learn what plants look like when growing and how to instill proper care. The approximately 40 children Smith teaches will be involved in the growing of vegetables such as green peppers and tomatoes along with herbs, fruits, blooming flowers and organic seeds.

Planting and growing materials came from the school’s grant money. The majority of the plants will be going towards the sale, and a select few will remain with the school to be planted in a garden in front of the school.

So far, about 200 plants have been sown, with more to come from Mincheski herself and by way of the children who attend Tina Alsteen’s Country Heartland child care center in Luxemburg. Mincheski plans to visit the school as needed to plant more seeds or help the children transplant them to larger pots.

One obstacle poses mild worry at this time: the weather. Hopefully it will be favorable for the seeds to germinate and grow enough to be presented at the sale. The project plans are to involve the students in setting up fliers around the community advertising the sale and including them in the sale day productions.

Mincheski has been working on this capstone project since the end of January. She was required to do her project to assist an nonprofit group.

Luxemburg Lions member Johanna Peterson stated that Mincheski is not paying the Lions back, but rather, paying it forward.

“She is involving the community; it’s a simple and attractive project raising money for a good thing,” Peterson said. “Fundraisers are not easy things to put together, and she did it creatively while involving children into the mix.”

The Lions are also honored Mincheski decided to incorporate three clubs, because when it comes down to it, the Lions clubs work together to make the community a better place, Peterson said.

Mincheski has been employed as a teller at Harbor Credit Union for 20 years, and for the last five she has also been working at von Stiehl Winery. She enrolled in the leadership development program to expand her management, human resources and supervisory skills.

From fox11online.com: “Recruiting women for apprenticeships” – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College says it’s getting the word out to women.

Construction jobs pay well, and companies are looking for apprentices.

Look around the average construction site, and you might notice a gender divide.

“Historically, it’s been about 96 percent male,” said Todd Kiel, the NWTC Apprenticeship Manager.

So is the apprenticeship program .

Only about a dozen of the 500 current apprentices are female.

At this info session Tuesday, NWTC urged interested women, like Delphina Orosco, to apply.

“I was looking to get into carpentry,” said Orosco. “Currently, I work at the casino, so there’s not a lot of room for advancement there. But here, there are a ton of advancement possibilities.”

NWTC says apprenticeships are cost-effective ways of job training. Students get paid to be in the classroom or out on a job site.

“Generally speaking it’s one day every two weeks you get paid your regular eight hour a day salary to be here for apprenticeship training,” said Kiel.

The U.S. Department of Labor says women make up more than half of the minimum wage workers in Wisconsin.

That means they make $7.25 an hour.

Jim Golembeski with the Brown County Workforce Development Board says skilled apprentices make a lot more.

“This one says anywhere between 12 and 24 dollars an hour for a carpenter journeyman,” said Golembeski, showing a listing on the Wisconsin Job Center web site.

Right now the Wisconsin Job Center lists 111 construction openings in Brown County alone.

“After a long drought in the construction industry, things are booming,” said Golembeski.

Hopeful carpenters like Orosco say despite the gender gap, they’ll take the chance on building a better life.

“I’m ready to take that on,” said Orosco.

The Brown County workforce development office says there is no guarantee of work, after you finish an apprenticeship program, because it’s too far out to know what the economy will do.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Area students learn about employment in agriculture” — Seventh- and eighth-grade students from five area public schools had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of 32 different agricultural employment fields at the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp.-sponsored Ag Career Days. More than 900 students gathered at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy April 10-11 to learn about potential future careers based in agriculture.

“Today is about showcasing opportunities available in agriculture,” said Tori Sorenson, GreenStone Farm Credit Services and co-chair of the KCEDC Ag Committee. “Students are getting further away from family farms, and we want to make these local opportunities known.”

Students had the opportunity to rank four different “clusters” of careers: Dollars and Sense, Grinding Gear, Diggin’ Deep and Cow “Tipping,” with the intention of learning about specific jobs within those clusters.

After a bus tour of the Ponderosa, the students broke into their groups and had the opportunity to interact with local business people.

“We need to put the tools in the toolbox and offer the opportunity to learn about where food comes from,” Sorenson said.

Monica Streff, a nutritionist at Cornette Farm Supply, dairy farmer and custom calf ranch raiser, served as one of the stops in the Cow “Tipping” cluster, and she talked about mixing products to create a formula for calf nutrition.

“I look at kids as the future of agriculture. If we don’t educate them today, we may not have a future,” Streff said. “There are jobs that involve more than just animals, like in horticulture, crops, sales, mechanics, fruits and vegetables.”

Steve Bretl of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College was a presenter in the Grinding Gear cluster, informing students about the diesel technician program at NWTC. He was showing the students how to use a PTO dynamometer, which can calculate if a piece of machinery is producing the horsepower and torque it is rated for.

“The complexity of the industry requires students to have communications, math, and technical skills in high school to prep them for program soft skills,” Bretl said. “It is important to make them aware now of what they can do and how they can obtain their goals.”

Students from Luxemburg-Casco, Algoma, Kewaunee, Denmark and Southern Door attended the two-day event.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “NWTC budget up slightly, but tax levy plummets” — Gov. Scott Walker’s property tax cuts mean a big change in the way Northeast Wisconsin Technical College balances its books.

The community college’s general fund budget for next school is expected to increase by about 1.8 percent from $77.2 million this year to $78.7 million for 2014-15.

But NWTC’s local tax levy will drop by about half, from $59.3 million to $27.6 million, under the Republican governor’s plan to use the state’s projected $977 million surplus to cover property and income tax cuts. The measure, approved by the state Legislature and signed by Walker last month, sends $406 million to technical colleges to reduce property tax levies.

That means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 in NWTC’s district would pay about $115 for that portion of their tax bill, compared with $240 last year.

A public hearing on the budget proposal is set for next month.

“It didn’t give us more money,” NWTC President Jeff Rafn said of the changes. “It just swapped state money for local money.”

NWTC will receive about 42 percent of its funding from the state, compared with 9 percent currently, he said.

“In my view it is good and properly re-balances things,” Rafn said. “The down side would be if they would eliminate property taxes altogether. Then we would become a state institution and would lose local control.”

Some people have expressed concerns that technical schools can raise taxes yet are governed by appointed bodies rather than elected officials, Rafn said. He noted the state’s 2013-15 budget limits property tax increases to value added by new construction in municipalities within the school’s district in the past year, which is anticipated to be less than 1 percent for NWTC.

“Property taxes aren’t going to go up,” he said. “But taking away local control would hamper our ability to make quick local decisions.”

Rafn cited expansion of nursing programs to meet higher demands at NWTC as an example.

The state Legislature has formed a Special Committee on the Review of Wisconsin Technical College System Funding and Governance — co-chaired by Republican Rep. John Nygren of Marinette — to review the process.

As part of next year’s budget, NWTC is looking to increase some offerings, including programs in fire-medic, therapeutic massage and software development.

The school also will expand some programming, such as its health and wellness program and joint programs with area high schools.

It will use grant money to fund a variety of learning coaches and tutors.

The school plans to eliminate a financial institution management program which is losing enrollment, but Rafn said students enrolled in the program still could finish.

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