From “NWTC Builds Training Center for Marinette Marine’s Mission” —  Marinette -Marinette Marine is in the middle of ramping up its workforce, hiring dozens of workers every month to help build ten littoral combat ships for the Navy. But those workers need specialized skill training for the job.

Friday we got a sneak peek inside the new, $3 million training facility customized for them.

“It’s our intention to be the premier marine manufacturing center in the Midwest,” NWTC Marinette Campus Dean Pat O’Hara said.

The new Northeast Wisconsin Technical College North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center is located in downtown Marinette.

Crews are transforming an old Goodwill Industries warehouse into a state-of-the-art facility designed for Marinette Marine workers.

“So we’ll be training really all their employees, really from an administrative level to a person that’s in production,” training center coordinator Brian Lancour said.

Over the next two years more than 1,000 workers are expected to train here, learning customized skills in welding, pipe fitting, and electrical work.

To make this facility as close to on-the-job training as possible, instructors designed the labs.

“This whole lab is actually wired like a ship would be wired so we can do a real good simulation of the wiring in a ship,” Lancour remarked.

Lancour has actually been working at Marinette Marine the last several months to make sure the training center has everything workers need.

“We have to actually work side by side with them so we know exactly what they’re doing and what their needs are,” he said.

Construction started less than two months ago but Marinette Marine workers will have their first class here January 30th.

Eventually, NWTC students enrolled in its new marine construction degree program will use it, too.

“In the fall term we’ll probably be looking at having our regular student population here more frequently,” O’Hara said.

Once classes start, NWTC expects to offer training almost 24 hours a day, six days a week.

“We now need to ramp it up because of all the backlog and because they’re also now bringing in more every month. So we’re looking at possibly using this facility basically three shifts,” Lancour said.

Smet Construction, which is in charge of the project, has 100 people working to finish the training center on time.

From “Snowmobile Team shows off hi-tech gear at Nicolet College” — RHINELANDER - And heading into the race this weekend, students at Nicolet College got a treat as one pro snowmobiling team stopped by.

Scheuring Speed Sports and the local Air Force recruiting office came together to talk to auto technology students about how they’re pushing the edges of science and technology.

The Scheuring team will be racing this weekend in Eagle River, and they aren’t leaving much up to chance.

“It’s calculated, and if you can back it up with a computer telling you it’s the right decision, then 99% of the time, it is… You’re playing the physics game the whole time just trying to make sure everything is right,” says Scheuring team racer, Robbie Malinowski.

The team uses advanced computer analysis to read responses from the snowmobiles while they’re in action- They can then use that information to tweak the machines,and push their performance even higher.

But this type of diagnostic testing and use of computers, also has more practical applications.

“What they do in their racing, we do on an everyday basis as far as the Air Force is concerned, but on a much larger scale,” says U.S. Air Force recruiter Jesse Dettman.

The Scheuring team and the Air Force awarded a scholarship to one Nicolet student in the Auto technology program.

They hope to share with students the important and constantly changing role of technology in all fields.

From “Seminars help business go global” – Going global is often a goal for many businesses, but how to get it done? Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is conducting two seminars on Feb. 15 to help area companies increase the globalization of their business.

The first seminar – Selling Your Products in the Global Market – is designed to give individual tools and knowledge to quickly begin hunting for international buyers and close deals. This session will be held between 8 a.m. and noon.
The second seminar – Exporting to China – will more specifically focus on the Chinese market with ideas on how to research and sell into this country as well as finding agents, distributors and partners in China. This session runs from 1 to 3 p.m.

To register online, go to or contact Holly Valentine at 800-422-NWTC ext. 6971 with additional questions.

From “What 600 news jobs in Superior means for college students” – With the announcement that the next-generation of corporate airplanes will be manufactured in Superior, bringing 600 jobs to the area…the next generation of workers will need the training to fill those jobs.

With Kestrel Aircraft Corporation looking to hire 600 new workers in Superior…regional technical schools anticipate higher enrollment in programs geared toward manufacturing and engineering.

“This is huge. I like to think of it as a game changer, quite honestly, for our community,” says Associate Dean of Continuing Education at WITC, Charles Glazman.

Wisconsin Indian Technical College in Superior is already looking at adapting their programs to fit the needs of Kestrel.

“Our hope is that we can serve Kestrel with providing a skilled workforce based on their needs. That’s pretty much a purpose of the technical colleges within the state of Wisconsin,” Glazman says.

A workforce CEO of Kestrel, Alan Klapmeier, says they are excited to utilize.

“Certainly one of our characteristics of this company would be, in the beginning it’s engineering, it’s RND, it’s a lot of creative type jobs. And in the past we’ve used interns and students and new hires…so we’re looking forward to continuing to do that,” Klapmeier said.

Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen says having Kestrel come to Superior is a great opportunity for students.

“The Kestrel folks will be identifying the skill sets necessary so people can either present them or take the opportunity to present them or take the opportunity to get those skill sets on board,” Hagen says.

Skill sets that will be varied…like the positions Kestrel will be hiring for.

“There’s a lot of different jobs. To start with, it’s engineers and technicians that are building prototypes and test parts for certification. Later on, eventually, there will be more traditional composite manufacturing jobs, similar to other jobs in the area,” Klapmeier says.

Associate Dean of Continuing Education at WITC, Charles Glazman, says this will have a tremendous impact for students…one they are excited to prepare them for.

“We’ve got to be working along side them as closely as possible and trying to address those needs as they come up,” Glazman said.

Glazman says WITC has been in talks with Kestrel since August in order to work them on the future of both Kestrel and WITC’s programs.

From “FVTC: Expansion would help job training” —  GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Technical College and area businesses believe the economy will only go up from here.

“Gaining technical skills in this economy is really how we see the future evolving,” said Christopher Matheny, vice-president for instructional services at FVTC.

Its part of the reason Fox Valley Tech is pushing forward with a $66.5 million referendum, to expand its ability to train workers for more skill-specific jobs.

“Do they possess the skills for the job itself, the hard skills and the soft skills, the how well do they interact with others, the people skills and the critical thinking skills,” said Al Hesse of the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board.

Just as important is giving already skilled workers even more job specific training as technology continues to evolve. Nursing students aren’t just training for today, they’re preparing for the future in an ever-changing industry.

“It’s very difficult for healthcare providers to keep up on their skills unless there is some additional training that’s done and through the use of simulators we can create situations that maybe are not common in the providers workplace,” said Bob Sternhagen, human patient simulation coordinator for FVTC.

The goal is to close the skills gap for the highly specific jobs employers are looking to fill.

“Where do we have a large calling for and where is the strongest demand at,” said Hesse.

Hesse says in the Fox Valley area employers are looking for skill-specific workers in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, transportation logistics and diesel technology. Through the referendum Fox Valley Tech will address some of those needs through a $12 million healthcare technology center, a $6 million transportation center expansion and a new $35 million public safety training center on land leased at the Outagamie County Regional Airport.

Employers say helping students meet those demands is what’s driving our economy forward.

“They need to be “re-tooled” to get into the new job market and get those skills they need to be competitive,” said Hesse.


From “FVTC board authorizes $66.5 million referendum” – GRAND CHUTE – Voters in nine counties will be asked on April 3 to consider a $66.525 million capital facilities referendum for Fox Valley Technical College, the state’s busiest technical school.

The FVTC Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve an initial borrowing resolution not to exceed $66.525 million and a resolution to pursue a referendum on seven capital facilities projects.

The centerpiece and largest of the seven projects is the $32.5 million public safety training center proposed for construction on 75 acres of leased land on the south end of the Outagamie County Regional Airport.

The action means that If voters approve the referendum, FVTC would be authorized to borrow the necessary funds over two years to complete the facilities projects.

“The board clearly understands the college’s attentiveness to the needs of our region’s workforce,” said FVTC board chairman Bill Fitzpatrick.

FVTC administrators and the board have done extensive studies and planned for the capital facilities projects over the past four years.

FVTC President Susan May said a community perception survey illustrated the important role that the technical college plays in training skilled professionals to fit immediate job openings and long-term careers.

“Our community and our workforce need to grow in alignment with the new skill requirements of this economy, and it certainly shaping up as a skills-based economy,” May said.

“We look forward to helping this community and this region grow the economy, career opportunities, and overall quality of life,” May said. “Putting facilities like this in play can make that kind of difference.”

From “Alta Resources adding jobs” —  Attention jobseekers: Alta Resources has 100 job openings at its downtown Neenah headquarters, and it anticipates adding another 200 jobs within the next six months.

The jobs are in customer care, information technology, sales and team leadership.

“We’ve just had incredible growth in the last five years,” said Jim Bere, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Alta. “As we look forward, we believe it’s going to continue to accelerate.”

Alta Resources built a $20 million, 180,000-square-foot office building in downtown Neenah in 2005. At the time, the company occupied four of the building’s seven floors and toyed with leasing the open floors to tenants to improve its revenue stream.

Today the company fills all seven floors and leases one floor of One Neenah Center. It also operates a 200,000-square-foot fulfillment center in the Southpark Industrial Center, and it has operations in California and the Philippines to provide clients with around-the-clock service.

Bere said Alta already has begun exploring options for expansion to accommodate further growth. He said the company likes downtown Neenah, but employee parking remains a major concern.

“We’re not sure where we’re going to put all of the people,” Bere said. “Do we look at other facilities in downtown Neenah? We’re looking at the full range of options.”

Chris Haese, Neenah’s director of community development and assessment, said city officials are aware of the parking challenges facing Alta and other downtown businesses. He said it’s a good problem to have because it reflects a vibrant business community.

“We need to come up with a plan for how we provide sufficient parking for both customers and employees,” Haese said. “For 2012, that’s one of the priorities of this office.”

Neenah budgeted $450,000 this year for improvements to downtown parking. Haese said the money would be used to evaluate parking needs and to start design work on possible options. He estimated downtown Neenah would need an additional 500 to 700 parking stalls in the next decade to meet demand.

World of outsourcing

Alta is an outsourcer of business processing services for Fortune 500 companies in the packaged goods, health care, entertainment and manufacturing industries. It doesn’t disclose its diverse list of clients because of confidentiality requirements, though it did acknowledge sausage maker Johnsonville as a client.

The company provides outsourced services in four main areas — customer care, e-business, fulfillment and sales. It has dedicated teams for specific clients.

Alta will answer questions about a client’s product, place orders, ship the product and bill the customer.

With Johnsonville, for example, Alta employees field inquiries from consumers who call a toll-free number on a Johnsonville package or website. Alta might respond to the inquiries by sending coupons or letters to the callers to promote brand loyalty and goodwill.

“We’re talking to a lot of consumers who are calling into us, but they’re really calling into who the client is,” Bere said.

Alta, though, is far more than a call center. It also develops and manages software systems for clients, and it uses social media like Facebook and Twitter to monitor the marketplace and quickly dispel misinformation about a client or client’s product that otherwise could go viral in the Internet world.

“We have tools where we can find a mom-and-pop blog or all sorts of chatter and get an inventory on what’s going on,” said Brett Meach, marketing manager for Alta.

Alta expanded into the Philippines to develop its information technology workforce and to process information around the clock, not just during business hours in the United States.

“We needed to have an ability to work 24 (hours) by seven days a week,” Bere said. “It gets really hard if you’re only geographically located in the U.S.”

Positioned for growth

Alta’s vision and performance have helped it to capitalize on the global outsourcing trend, and the precarious economy has worked in Alta’s favor.

Bere said when the economy tanked, companies refocused on their core business and looked to outsource other areas like customer care and software development. Alta was positioned to handle the additional business.

“We are at a stage where we can attract businesses larger than we’ve ever attracted before,” Bere said. “If before we would get a 15- or 20-person program, we now have opportunities for 100-person programs, 200-person programs and 300-person programs.”

Bere said Alta has improved its leadership throughout the company, which is another reason for optimism. He said the company tends to promote from within, noting that some of Alta’s top executives started out manning phones in the call center.

Alta will hold a career fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Holiday Inn Neenah Riverwalk, 123 E. Wisconsin Ave., to interview candidates for its job openings. The company will have its human resources department and program directors on hand.

“We’re looking for a boost in qualified candidates,” Meach said. “We’re expecting a lot of people to show up.”

Meach said many of the jobs are entry-level positions, but Alta also is looking for software developers, business analysts and team leaders.

From “Plans to bring 300-600 jobs to Superior finalized” —  It’s official. Kestrel Aircraft has landed in Superior bringing with it 300 to 600 jobs. Officials say it’s the largest economic development in the area since World War II.

Hundreds of people gathered in Kestrel Aircraft’s airport hanger Monday morning for the announcement including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Kestrel said they plan to build this airplane, a K-350 that will carry up to eight people at low cost to the customer. With construction of the plane, Kestrel plans to create 600 permanent, non-seasonal jobs by 2016. Kestrel said most of these jobs will be recruited and trained locally. Walker says this is the biggest jobs announcement he’s made since his term began.

“We are talking about 600 jobs in a community that needs those jobs.” said Republican Governor Scott Walker. “But 600 jobs is a big announcement anywhere in the state of Wisconsin. So the fact that it is right here in Superior is even more special.”

Kestrel had a lot of incentives to choose Superior over its competing site in Maine. Between the State of Wisconsin, Douglas county and Superior, governments contributed nearly $120 million to the project. Most of that money comes in the form of loans, tax incentives and transfers of land. Kestrel’s CEO says the area’s determination made his company choose Superior.

“Thank you isn’t sufficient to say to Mayor Hagen the city and his team and the state and the county who all put this package together,” said Alan Klapmeier, CEO of Kestrel Aircraft.

Construction of the first of two facilities will begin this April, on Winter Street. This facility will create the composite material for the planes. Klapmeier said this facility will create 250 jobs.

A manufacturing facility will be constructed on the Head of the Lakes Fairground near the airport at an unspecified date. That facility will be the assembly plant and will create 350 jobs.

From “Mid-State adjusts offerings to meet needs” —  Committees of workers, industry officials and Mid-State Technical College officials are helping guide the college’s program offerings, allowing the school to quickly adjust to changes in the central Wisconsin job market.

The committees have been particularly busy lately, as the college alters its medical programs to meet employers’ needs.

The Mid-State board of directors will consider suspending one program and adding another at its Monday meeting, after suspending three others last month.

The laboratory science technician program has had low enrollment since it was introduced. On the other hand, a new gerontology program would offer students the skills to work with an aging population, an industry with large potential for growth.

“What we do every year, we look at what we’re offering and ask, ‘Are (the programs) still viable, do they have numbers?’” said Ann Marie Krause, vice president of academic affairs. “These recommendations all came out of a committee of business and industry people saying it’s time to take a look at these programs and offer different ones.”

The laboratory science technician program, such as those suspended last month, is the casualty of a changing medical industry. The lab science program is too broad, and medical officials are looking for more specific focuses, Krause said.

The health unit coordinator, medication assistant and medical transcription programs also suffered from low enrollment and poor job prospects. With new technology such as voice recognition software and online filing systems, as well as new nursing positions, the programs weren’t turning out graduates with in-demand skills.

Medical industry officials like working with Mid-State because it provides them with a trained workforce equipped with the skills they are looking for in employees.

“It’s not just, ‘this is what the textbook says,’ but, ‘this is what your future employers are looking for,’” said Dawn Brostowitz, nursing director at Riverview Medical Center’s medical and surgical unit. “They give you the tools to be successful in these jobs.”

Mid-State also is careful not to disrupt students’ academic paths when they drop a program. All students will be able to finish the program before it is cut July 1, and no new students will be allowed to enroll.

“Before we even consider taking it to the board, we have a plan for completing students who are currently in the program,” Krause said.

From “Welcome home: Appleton woman opens her doors for international students” – When Jeanne Hollenhorst of Appleton hears “Hi, Mom” on the other end of the phone, she usually has to ask who is calling.

It could be any of the 20 international students she’s hosted since 1991.

“It’s kind of fun because a lot of my boys will keep in contact,” said Hollenhorst, 74.

The students have been part of the Cooperative Association of States for Scholarships, Scholarships for Education and Economic Growth and the Community College Initiative programs at Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute. They spend two years in the Fox Valley, staying with a host family for one of those years, and getting an education before returning to their home countries to apply their skills there.

Hollenhorst was teaching nursing classes at the college when she heard about the need for host families.

The single mother of two adopted children from Nicaragua was especially interested when she learned the students that first year would be coming from Nicaragua.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to give it a try,’” she said. “I’ve had my boys ever since.”

She knew the education the students would gain would help improve their country, she said.

Hollenhorst was inspired by the fact that “they are committed to go back to their own country for two years and pay back.”

She also saw hosting as a way to promote and enhance international relations.

“When my boys go back and they keep in touch and they speak good about things here and stuff, I think that’s good for our country,” she said.

She has hosted young men from Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua.

“My boys keep me young,” Hollenhorst said. “I started out as a mother image. And now I’m more of a grandmother image.”

She has enjoyed meeting the students from different countries, introducing them to local culture and being a mentor.

“Some of the homes they come from, and some of the stories and pictures that you see, you can tell they are needy,” Hollenhorst said. “Some of my boys have never really lived with much of a family structure.”

Rose Zoesch-Weigel, the International Student Program’s manager, said Hollenhorst has a special relationship with her host students.

“In her special way, Jeannie has helped to build bridges of friendship between the U.S. and the students’ respective countries,” she said. “The students have stayed in contact with Jeannie after they return to their home countries, sending Jeannie photos of their growing families and letting her know how they are helping their local communities.”

She said Hollenhorst has given the students a real experience of life in this country.

“They tell me that from living with Jeannie and host families like Jeannie, they see that the average American works very hard, has values, and has a kind, giving heart,” Zoesch-Weigel said. “Jeannie is a very special person who in her own non-pretentious acts of kindness, helps to spread peace and understanding among nations with the work that she does hosting students.”

From “Einstein Project Science Expo offers hands-on science experience” —  ASHWAUBENON — The Einstein Project Science Expo Saturday at Shopko Hall was electric with excitement.

OK, bad pun, but an accurate description when you get thousands of kids and their parents around everything that makes the world work and let them touch, turn and twist their way through dozens of exhibits.

They ranged from the simple to the complex: Alan Pesche, director of Barlow Planetarium in Menasha, using a torch to make a garbage bag float like a hot-air balloon to The Dream Flight U.S.A. “Spirit of Education” bus.

In the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. corner of the hall, Ethan Koch, 9, of Peshtigo Elementary School was riding a stationary bike, lighting up bulbs on a control board as the resistance was turned higher and the peddling got harder.

“It was pretty good at first,” said Koch, who called himself “a pretty good fan of science.”

He won his school’s science fair last year, Koch said, and leans toward meteorology as his favorite science.

No Wisconsin event would be complete without cheese, and the Schreiber Foods booth, where they were making string cheese, had long lines.

Cassidy Eckstein and Madyson Tritt, both 11 and both of Omro Elementary School, were among six students brought to the event by fifth-grade teacher Sherrie Mikkelson.

“The kids are pretty interested in the hands-on things,” Mikkelson said.

Eckstein was interested in how string cheese is made, but said getting her hair frizzed by a Van De Graaff static electricity generator was the highlight of her day.

Tritt was less discriminating, declaring “everything” her favorite.

Collin Jepsen, 10, of Wrightstown Elementary School enjoyed having a snake draped over his shoulders.

“It was six feet long. This other kid had to hold one end of it because it was moving all over the place,” he said.

Kids were making ice cream by shaking plastic storage containers, launching air-powered rockets, painting pictures with their eyes, making paper, gazing through telescopes and having fun with liquid nitrogen. And there was a lot more than that.

Julie Paavola, executive director of The Einstein Project, expected about 4,000 people at the expo, equal to last year’s attendance. Paavola was pleased to hear one parent’s observation that exhibits were getting better each year.

She said businesses have bought into the event more and more over the years.

“They are realizing we all need to be thinking about our future work force and where the employees are going to come from,” she said. “A lot of employers need science. They need employees to be smart. Brainpower is driving so much of today’s industry.”

Paavola said the point of the expo and its broad range of exhibits is that “science is all around us.”

And inside us, too.

A Northeast Wisconsin Technical College booth on microbiology included jars containing various intestinal parasites.

Ryan Schultz, 9, of Anne Sullivan Elementary School in Green Bay described the roundworms and flatworms and pinworms as nasty, but smiled when he said it.

Snakes were another matter. He owns a ball python and was happy to handle the other snakes at the expo. He said he’d like to see what the inside of a snake looks like, but not if it had to be dissected.

When Angelo Kolokithas, microbiology instructor at NWTC, offered to let Schultz and his sister, Erin, also 9, look at slides of bacteria in their mouths, they were quick to grab swabs.

When he asked, “You guys brush your teeth today? Am I going to see a lot of bacteria?” Ryan pointed confidently toward his sister and said “In hers!”

Two minutes later, after they’d seen their swabbings through a microscope, it was Erin who was smiling.

“I had less than his.”

From “SMT Machine expands, works OT to keep up” – HOWARD — SMT Machine & Tool can add bricks and mortar to keep up with business — and it is — but filling that space with bodies is a challenge.

SMT is adding 28,700 square feet onto its building at 1325 Cornell Road. The $2.2 million addition will include new offices, a sixth Vertical Machining Center and room for more growth.

Owner and President Russ Styczynski would like to start a second shift, but said it’s difficult to find machinists who want to work that schedule. Finding machinists is difficult, period.

“We are working with (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College) and Bay Port High School’s tech ed class. We’ve let them come to our facility and talk to our machinists,” he said.

He’s looking to hire five to 10 people, including assemblers. So constant has been its growth, the company recently had to forgo in-house assembly work because new machines took up that space. With the addition, it will be able to do more of that work again.

Sales are between $5 million and $10 million and have been increasing since Styczynski bought the company in 2006.

Financing for the addition was provided by Bank First National of Manitowoc. Bayland Buildings of Hobart is the contractor.

Business slowed during the recession, when maintenance projects were much of the work, but in the last 18 months sales started picking up. SMT’s machinists are working overtime to keep up.

“Bayland said this is the fifth or sixth machine shop expansion they’ve had,” Styczynski said. “We have orders into April right now and it’s still coming in. If I could do a second shift, I could double the company.”

Much of the work SMT is doing is side frames for printing presses, which is all new equipment, but Styczynski said they are seeing activity in mining, the marine industry and heavy equipment, too.

“We worked last year to diversify our clients. I can see jobs for five customers right here,” Styczynski said, standing on his factory floor.

His newest machine, to be delivered in April, is a Mighty Viper Vertical Machining Center, SMT’s sixth’s and largest VMC. Its table size has an X-axis of 201 inches, a Y-axis of 102 inches and a Z-axis of 42 inches.

It’s the seventh new piece of equipment he has added since buying the company, and the addition will have prepoured foundations for more.

BTC to undergo evaluation

January 17, 2012

From “BTC to undergo evaluation” – Blackhawk Technical College will undergo a comprehensive evaluation visit April 25-27 by a team representing The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Institutional accreditation evaluates an entire institution and accredits it as a whole. Other agencies provide accreditation for specific programs. Accreditation is voluntary.

For the past year and half, Blackhawk Technical College has been engaged in a process of self-study, addressing the Commission’s requirements and criteria for accreditation. The evaluation team will visit the institution to gather evidence that the self-study is thorough and accurate.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding the college to: Public Comment on Blackhawk Technical College, c/o The Higher Learning Commission, 230 South LaSalle St., Suite 7-500, Chicago IL 60604.

Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Written, signed comments must be received by April 3. Comments should include the name, address, and telephone number of the person providing the comments. Comments will not be treated as confidential.

From “Top chefs to face off at Madison College” – One of the largest cooking competitions in the Midwest is coming to Madison Area Technical College.

In a format familiar to fans of the popular TV cooking shows Iron Chef, Chopped and Top Chef, 27 professional chefs will be demonstrating their culinary prowess at Madison College’s Truax campus on Jan. 13-15.

Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Massachusetts and Wisconsin are among the states that will be represented at the cooking competition.

But the pros aren’t the only ones that will be showing off their cooking skills at the College’s version of “Kitchen Stadium.”

Aspiring chefs from Madison College will challenge culinary students from Fox Valley Technical College to determine who will represent Wisconsin in the regional competition in Detroit this spring. Culinary students from Joliet Community College in Illinois, Johnson County Community College in Kansas and Metropolitan Community College in Nebraska will also be vying for awards.

The event is being held in the culinary kitchens at Madison College’s Truax campus, which is located at 3550 Anderson Street. Unfortunately, this year the event is not open to the public due to space concerns.

From “Project at MATC to include 2 rooms” – Officials at Madison Area Technical College have decided to include two community rooms in construction on the Watertown campus, despite a nearly $300,000 shortage in funding.

The two rooms were slated to be cut from the addition in Watertown because bids put the college $271,000 over budget.

The board told staff at the meeting to find funds from the overall campus reconstruction project, Madison College’s capital budget or from Watertown foundations or corporations, Madison College Public Affairs Manager Tim Casper said.

Putting the two rooms back into the construction plan will bring the project from 8,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. Renovation areas at the campus will remain the same, totaling 3,855 square feet.

Besides the two community rooms, the total expansion in Watertown will include three new science labs and several academic and computer classrooms.

The additions and renovations to the Watertown campus were set to cost an estimated $2.6 million when Madison College district residents voted in favor of a referendum in 2010. Other Madison College campuses receiving updates include Reedsburg, Fort Atkinson, Portage and Madison. The entire project, known as the Madison College Smart Community Plan, cost $133.7 million and is a 15-year vision for all of the college’s campuses.

Madison College staff will work to come up with a solution to the project shortfall before the Madison College board meets in February or March, Casper said.

Board members visited with Watertown residents, and after speaking with them, Casper said they decided the community rooms were essential to the campus.

“The board thought it was important so it can meet the educational needs of the Watertown area,” he said.

From “Wisconsin, African farmers join in soil-building project” —  Tony and Dela Ends, formerly of Hendersonville and now farming in Wisconsin, are volunteering in January to teach West African farmers composting techniques.

America’s oldest non-profit cooperative development program is sending the organic vegetable growers to Senegal. The ongoing soil-building project in that Atlantic Coastal nation is one of 20 long-term initiatives on three continents of the National Cooperative Business Association.

Tony Ends, who turned 21 in Senegal as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1975, is going back to that nation for the first time in 35 years. Tony Ends taught English for two years in a public school in Senegal. He then worked in newspapers for 14 years, including nearly five years as a copy editor at the Hendersonville Times-News.

With his wife Dela and family, Tony worked to establish Scotch Hill Farm on returning to Wisconsin to work for the Janesville Gazette 18 years ago. The certified organic farm, 17 miles west of Janesville, now grows more than 100 varieties of vegetables, small grains and hay on 41 acres.

While living in Hendersonville, Tony and Dela hosted Hamidou Sakhanokho, who completed studies for a two-year horticulture degree at then Blue Ridge Technical College. Hamidou went on to complete agriculture and plant sciences degrees and earning master’s and doctoral degrees. He is a researcher for the USDA in Alabama.

Composting is a method of blending different types of decaying plant and animal matter to make humus. It is one of the ways organic growers restore and enrich soil for cultivating crops.

Senegal, a nation about the size of South Dakota, lies on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Farmers in much of the region struggle to produce grain from sorghum, millet, corn and peanuts in soil types where sand predominates in often hot, dry climate.

After the two-week assignment in Senegal, the Ends will return from Africa through Europe. They will interview students for farm internships and give talks on organic agriculture at a school near Sulzburg, Austria. They also hope to visit oil seed crop farms that process their own food-grade vegetable oils and make bio-fuels on-farm.

Dela, the daughter of Jim and Nancy Morton, has been teaching organic gardening for several years at Blackhawk Technical College in Monroe. Tony has also worked with soil scientists, agronomists and educators as a communications coordinator and grant writer in sustainable agriculture research.

The NCBA helped found and fund in 1945 the program that became CARE, which helped rebuild war-torn Europe. It has since been active in more than 100 countries with more than 200 programs to build democratic institutions and provide technical assistance to grassroots development efforts abroad.

From “Farmers learn how to grow your own fuel” —  Area farmers are invited to Oneida and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to learn how their neighbors are growing and using their own fuel.

Information and demonstrations will be provided at a seminar Friday, January 20. The event begins at 9 a.m. at Ridgeview Plaza, Hwy 54, Oneida, and ends with a demonstration at NWTC-Green Bay from 11:30 a.m. to noon.

Participants will learn how farmers are producing fuel from crops like soybeans, camelina, and sorghum and creating usable energy including small-scale ethanol and biogas.  Bob Brylski, statewide biofuels educator and director of Wisconsin Bioenergy Services will discuss biodiesel, vegetable oil, and ethanol fuels and Perry Anderson, Packer City International Trucks will demonstrate oilseed processing and biodiesel production.  Brenda Heinen, US Dept of Agriculture, will discuss rural development funding programs and Vance Haugen, UW Agricultural Extension Agent from Crawford County, WI will be discussing small scale biogas production.


From “Manufacturing classes get green light” – The Bonduel School Board on Monday approved six new high school courses, including one that will utilize a mobile technology lab, for the 2012-13 school year.

The Computer Integrated Manufacturing Mobile Lab is designed to engage students earlier in the field of manufacturing and is equipped with the latest computer manufacturing technology used at most foundries and other industries. It is sponsored by Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Bay Area Workforce Development Board, Wisconsin Job Center and Lakeshore Technical College.

“This technology is very expensive for a school to purchase and the lab provides districts a chance to give kids the opportunity to experience the different technology,” said Patrick Rau, high school principal.

Utilizing the 44-foot mobile lab will cost the district $5,000 per semester. Students will utilize equipment such as the Haas computer numerical control (CNC) lathe, Haas CNC mill, 13 computers and an interactive SMART board.

“It’s really a good deal when you consider that the technology in there is over $100,000 worth of equipment,” said Mark Weber, dean of trades and engineering technologies at NWTC. “The cost to (school districts) is basically going to recoup diesel fuel and lab aids, so we’re just trying to cover the operating costs to bring it to them.”

Established as electives in the technology department, the courses — CNC Fundamentals 1 and 2 — will be open to Bonduel upperclassmen. The courses will run for an entire year and earn students both high school and college credit.

The lab will accommodate two groups of 12 students for a four-hour session at the school.

“It’s always been a challenge to connect industry with the schools, and these are the same machines that are in industry today,” said Travis Schindel, BHS technology teacher. “It’s a great opportunity for our students. There’s money to be made in this type of career.”

Schindel will be the course’s instructor. He will work with a CNC lab aide who drives the lab to the school each week.

The board also approved a new Cutting Edge Technology course, which will emphasize how to effectively use computers and digital media technologies as tools to enhance learning and skill development.

Other new classes will be peer tutoring, zero-hour fitness, college readiness and technical math prep.

From “New stem cell classroom at MATC triples student capacity” – 

With seven biosafety hoods, plenty of space and a big screen to project images from microscopes, a new stem cell classroom at Madison Area Technical College is a major advance from the cramped quarters where students previously learned how to grow the cells.

The expanded space, dedicated Tuesday, means up to 24 students can be trained each semester, up from eight before. The added capacity could supply more workers for the burgeoning stem cell industry in Madison and around the country.

MATC is thought to be the country’s only two-year college to offer training in growing human embryonic stem cells, first isolated in the lab in 1998 by UW-Madison researcher James Thomson.

Other schools use mouse stem cells, said Jeanette Mowery, a biotechnology instructor at MATC.

“We’re trying to increase the pool of well-trained stem cell technicians,” said Tom Tubon, project director for MATC’s emerging stem cell technologies program. “We’re also trying to make stem cell technology more accessible.”

MATC, also known as Madison College, paid for the $165,000 renovation for the new classroom at its Truax campus on the East Side.

Another $60,000 or so for equipment came from a $851,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The three-year grant mostly will help MATC make its instructional materials available to campuses nationwide, Tubon said.

MATC has been offering a basic stem cell methods class since 2009, two years after the school first received human embryonic stem cells from WiCell, a research institute in Madison that is part of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

In the new classroom starting next week, MATC will offer its first session of an advanced stem cell methods class. Eleven of the 23 students who have taken the basic class have signed up, Tubon said.

Students in the basic class learn how to grow and analyze stem cells. The advanced class will teach them how to coax the multipurpose cells into specialized cells, such as those from the heart and brain. It will also cover induced pluripotent stem cells, adult cells reprogrammed to their embryonic state. Thomson helped discover those cells in 2007.

Katie Draheim, a lab technician since May at the Madison stem cell company Cellular Dynamics, took the basic stem cells class last year. She said she previously had a hard time finding a medical research job, despite having a biology degree.

“I needed something that other people didn’t have,” Draheim said. “The stem cell class clinched it for me.”

Laura Horst, who works at ioGenetics, a Madison biotech company that focuses on proteins, has enrolled in the advanced stem cells class.

“Being able to tell a prospective employer down the road that I have two semesters of experience with stem cells is pretty valuable,” Horst said.

Emile Nuwaysir, chief operating officer at Cellular Dynamics, said the company provides additional training to graduates of MATC’s classes but appreciates the big head start they get at the school.

“We’ve gotten quality graduates out of the program,” Nuwaysir said. “I assume (the expansion) will make them even better prepared than before.”

From “Walker in West Salem, touts plan to focus on worker training” – 

Gov. Scott Walker says Wisconsin’s economy is heading in the right direction, even with 2011 job creation off pace to meet his campaign promises.

“We think we’ve built the foundation,” he said. “We’ve certainly changed the job climate.”

Walker, who visited the Coulee Region on Tuesday for the second time in five days, is promoting a plan that focuses not on the jobs but on the workers.

Accompanied by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and members of his cabinet, Walker visited Select Trusses & Lumber, a growing manufacturing company with about 65 employees, where he outlined the initial phase of his “Wisconsin Working” plan, which he said will connect unemployed workers with existing job openings.

Though the state unemployment rate still hovers above 7 percent — representing about 224,000 jobless workers — there are often more than 30,000 job openings posted on the state’s online jobs board.

“We’re definitely moving in the right direction,” said Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson.

Walker’s plan offers short-term strategies that he said can bridge the so-called skills gap without spending additional money.

The plan calls for adding 14 employees at the state’s Job Centers, doubling the number of job fairs and focusing more resources on Wisconsin’s estimated 7,000 unemployed veterans, and creating a transitional program that Newson said would allow employers to “kick the tires” with workers who are collecting unemployment benefits.

Also included is a new advisory council to brainstorm ways to better prepare students for work and college.

Western Technical College President Lee Rasch said the plan is a start, but real improvement will require additional funding.

Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature last year passed a two-year budget that cut $71 million in from the state’s technical colleges. That’s meant cuts to staff and programs at WTC.

“We’re really stretched right now,” Rasch said. “We can put students on a waiting list, but that’s not helping anyone.”

Walker countered that his budget repair tools — which cut public employee benefits and stripped most collective bargaining rights — saved the technical colleges $22 million. Those tools also had something to do with several dozen protesters lining the sidewalk outside the truss plant.

On Monday, Assembly minority leader Rep. Peter Barca gave the governor’s plan backhanded praise, noting similarities to a package of job creation bills Democrats tried to introduce in November.

He hammered Walker for the state’s faltering job growth. As of November there were just 16,700 private sector jobs created in 2011, far short of Walker’s campaign promise to add 250,000 jobs in four years.

Walker compared himself to a football coach who took over a losing team.

“You’re not going to the Super Bowl the next year,” he said. “You want to be aiming for the playoffs by the fourth year. That’s our approach.”

Despite boasting one of the state’s lowest unemployment rates, western Wisconsin has challenges, said Steve Blodgett, acting director for Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Area Job Service. For example, many of those with jobs are under-employed in low-wage, low-skill positions that are the best they could find.

Blodgett also sees the skills gap — where laid-off workers, especially in the manufacturing sector, don’t have the training for today’s high-tech jobs.

“If you’re going to be a machinist you have to know how to run a computer,” he said. “They have to be retrained. They’re not ready for what’s out there.”

Rasch said some of the plan’s components could be helpful if done right:

He hopes the governor’s council will promote a program that allows students to earn college credits while still in high school. Western has quadrupled the number of such courses in the past two years, and Rasch said the program could expand.

Rasch is also bullish on the push for more short-term training — so long as the credits can be later applied toward a two-year degree.

“If we just do short-term training, we’ll get someone back to work but they may be in a job that’s most vulnerable,” he said. “Giving them a credential (is) in essence preparing them for the workforce of 2020, not just the workforce of 2012.”

Walker said the council would be comprised of legislators from both houses and parties along with representatives of K-12 education, technical colleges and the university system, employers and workforce development.

Walker said the short-term recommendations could be as simple as finding ways to steer young people toward manufacturing jobs.

“Right now our technical schools will tell you in some cases they have … high-skilled welding courses and they don’t have enough bodies to put into them. So it’s not a lack of funding. It’s not a lack of priority by the technical schools. It’s the fact that we don’t have enough people to put into those programs,” Walker said. “All the money in the world wouldn’t make a difference.”

From “The governor stops in the Chippewa Valley to talk about new jobs plan” – The governor is hoping to play matchmaker with job-seekers and employers.

This week, Gov. Scott Walker rolled out a new jobs plan called Wisconsin Working.  It focuses on workforce training and connecting those who are out of work with available jobs.

In October, Governor Walker held a jobs forum in Eau Claire.

During the forum, Paula Kimbllin from Xcel Energy said this, “We also have a real issue with hiring skilled employees.  Welders are a big problem, engineers are a big problem.”

The governor heard similar comments at other events across the state.  Wisconsin Working looks to address that need.

“What we’re talking about is making it easier for people looking for work to be plugged into those jobs,” says Gov. Scott Walker, (R) Wisconsin.

Governor Walkers plan calls for twice as many job fairs, more staff at the Department of Workforce Development to match job-seekers with services and more outreach for Wisconsinites with an added emphasis on veterans.  A second piece of the plan focuses on training.

“One of the biggest things we’ve heard from employers is they need quicker training, which means they need shorter turnaround, they’re not even necessarily looking for a two-year degree as they are looking for an eight week or three month process to get someone in the door,” says Governor Walker.

The added emphasis on training is welcome news to Chippewa Valley Technical College President Bruce Barker.

“It’s something we’re certainly excited in because that’s our business, trying to prepare the next generation, the next workforce and to help our displaced workers,” says Barker.

Barker says CVTC can trim the length of a few of its programs, but others like the welding program are actually taking more time.

“They’ve identified additional job competencies they want us to cover because the on-the-job training was too long and so we’ve recently shifted our programming to two-year programming,” says Barker.  “Now students can still job out after one-year, but to provide someone with job skills in the welding area with less than one-year is really giving them few job skills.”

The announcement also comes months after the state budget cut state aid to colleges and put a freeze on the ability to raise the tax levy.

“If we’re talking about expanding programs or expanding enrollment, that’s going to be severely difficult with our current funding difficulties,” says Barker.

WQOW News 18 reached out to the governor’s office on Wednesday to know if the program was going to cost the state money.  The governor’s office was unable to provide those figures.  However, the governor did say changes made to collective bargaining should help technical colleges.

“The goal for the tech colleges is the tools we gave them in the budget, if you look at the total amount of budget reductions versus the total amount they can save from the collective bargaining changes we put in, it’s a net gain for technical schools statewide of over $22 million,” says Governor Walker.

Some of the proposed changes, like increasing the number of job fairs, can be implemented immediately.  Others will need to be approved by lawmakers first.

View video from

NWTC partners with YWCA

January 10, 2012

From “YWCA announces $3.3 million campaign” —  Aiming to broaden its mission, the Green Bay-De Pere YWCA today is announcing a $3.3 million campaign to upgrade its facilities and launch new programs.

The funds will cover a new roof and other physical improvements, as well as programs geared toward helping women, children and families during tough times.

YWCA officials plan to introduce new services through a Women’s Empowerment Center, as well as a new anti-bullying effort and expanded after-school programs for kids.

“The needs of our community have evolved,” said Kathy Hinkfuss, executive director of the downtown Green Bay organization.

Officials plan to announce today that they have raised $2.7 million and are reaching out to the community for the remaining $600,000. Serving as honorary co-chairs of the Opening Doors Capital Campaign are Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy and former TV personality Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer.

The YWCA is trying to improve services for, among others, mothers who are struggling to hold their households together in challenging economic times, Ziegelbauer said.

“They need our help,” she said. “If we fail to help this segment of our population, we are greatly endangering the future of our community.”

The new Women’s Empowerment Center will offer employment training, job search counseling, time management assistance and other services. It also will include the Women’s Closet, which provides donated clothing to low-income women who are looking for work or going to school.

Designed to serve more than 300 women a year, the empowerment center will operate with help from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, Brown County and the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.

Hinkfuss said the YWCA has made programming decisions based, in part, on services available elsewhere in the community through potential partners.

From “What I Do: Becky Rogers is Coventry Village’s director of fun” – I’ve been dubbed director of fun because I plan a variety of outings and events for residents of the 40 condominiums, 120 independent apartment homes and the assisted care facility at Coventry Village.

I like to include arts and sports, educational offerings, dining, crafts and many other options to help keep the residents active and interested in life. The residents often give me ideas of places they would like to visit.

I plan a different outing/tour to places of interest in the Madison area each month. This month, a group of 14 is going to the Chazen Museum of Art. We’ve visited Epic Systems Corp., the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and other places. After the tours, we stop for lunch. I plan events on-site including singers, pianists, bands, UW-Extension classes or woodworking projects. I plan computer and tai chi classes, movie and popcorn on Saturday evenings and many other offerings.

I conduct orientations for new residents. I get to know them and the kinds of things they are interested in doing. I also get to know their family members, which is a delight and often provides volunteer sources for events. For instance, a family member might mention they play the piano, so I invite them to play for the residents, or they might know a special speaker who would be of interest to the residents.

I have a degree from Madison Area Technical College in occupational therapy. I received my bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University in business. I attend regular continuing education to keep up with the newest trends. Prior to coming to work here, I worked at the Alzheimer’s Alliance conducting staff training.

My mother, Marge Salter, always taught me to be kind and understanding with all people. Because she has passed away, I smile in her memory as I work with the residents. It’s rewarding to see how much the residents appreciate what I do. Watching them in their community, taking care of each other, is very gratifying for me. Because this is an aging population, some of the folks leave us before I really get to know them. It’s difficult to say goodbye to someone who has lived here for several years.

Skills needed to perform my job include understanding the needs of older adults, being an excellent communicator and listener, and always having a smile on my face. The tools that I use to do my job are creativity, flexibility, patience and compassion.

From “MATC student finds the positives in negatives” – Dennis Sabourin, a student at MATC in the Electricity Program, was incarcerated a few times for mistakes that he made in his past. At twenty six years old he has realized that righting wrongs is important. “One thing my mother said to me and it stuck with me, was that, ‘If you search good enough you will always find that positive in any negative, no matter the magnitude of it,’” Dennis said smiling.

When asked, how did he come to find the positive out of everything he been through? He said, “I’m my mother’s only boy and the second child. My father wasn’t around. The influences that were around were all negative.” Talk about magnitude.

“When I was in Colombia Correctional Institution I knew I wanted to enroll in school but wasn’t sure for what.” Maybe it was fate or a force of hand. “I tried my hand at the one year Building Services Diploma through Madison Area Technical College; it was all they offered at Colombia. Most of the coursework barely interested me,” Sabourin said. He then found a vital sign or as he so elaborately put it, ‘his positive in negatives’, when he started the electricity portion of the program.

He continued to say, “I knew without a doubt that this is what I wanted to do, I wanted to be an Electrician. I would stay in my room all day reading those old ‘Electrical Textbooks’ wrote in the early ‘80s. I finished one and picked up another. I even fell asleep thinking about working as an Electrician.”

Dennis was able to see his dream manifest itself into reality when a posting from the Joint Apprenticeship and Training for the Electrical Industry caught his eye. He immediately wrote to the Training Director, Mike Chetney, exclaiming his interest in the program.

A letter came back to Dennis from Mr. Chetney and he recommended Dennis to Big Step, one of the best community based organizations in Milwaukee to tutor him for the Electrical Aptitude Test and to help meet their Electrical Apprenticeship’s standards.

Dennis said, “The very last part of Mike’s letter inspired me. The part when he said, ‘Mr. Sabourin, you can make your dreams come true with hard work and dedication’ that positive feedback reinforced my positive motion. I hope the outcome of my story to be a clear example that when you take shortcuts your path is cut short. Even though this field is competitive the rewards are worth the wait.”

Heidi Peterson, Electrical Instructor and Department Chair of MATC, said, “When Dennis first walked into my classroom he was smiling, polite, always asking questions, and always offering to help. One would think that he slept in a bed of roses and woke up in an array of sunlight. I would not have thought he had the kind of background he had. Obviously, it was a growing experience. The highest you can get in my class is 100. Dennis has 109. Most students who need extra credit don’t take advantage of it. This is not the case with Dennis. He does the extra credit anyways.” Talk about getting the most out of your program.

Heidi continued, “Dennis has incredible drive, he takes this serious. With his grades, drive, toppled with his positive attitude; Dennis will go far. He has a future as an Electrician and Dennis will be great.”

Chuck Wimmer, Electrical Instructor at MATC, said, “Dennis is an aspiring outstanding individual who has a strong future as an Electrician. I’m going to have him back as my tutor next semester.

What strikes me as unique about Dennis is that he has the willingness to learn and help others. One day, after class, he urged some students to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for the experience and to craft their skills. I don’t see this type of drive from many of my students.

Most are just doing what they can to get by, while Dennis is doing more. On the days he doesn’t have class he comes and helps his classmates with their lab.”

Dennis, your future is promised, keep surpassing the negatives and continue to make good on the promises. Greatness awaits you.

From “Economy won’t stop local retirements” – Economic uncertainty and shortfalls in savings and investments won’t stop a large percentage of workers from retiring, according to a local survey of employees.

The 2011 Fond du Lac Retirement and Departure Intentions Study that was undertaken by Moraine Park Technical College, the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce (AC) and the Fond du Lac Area Human Resources Association concludes that there will be a loss of 36 percent of local workers to retirement within the next 10 years.

Josh Bullock of Moraine Park Technical College, a primary coordinator of the survey with Joe Reitemeier of the AC, said though many respondents said they would contemplate working, they want a job on their terms.

“I think the definition of retirement that you retire and are literally completely out of the work force (is over),” Bullock said.

He said retirement often includes doing something new and more on the employee’s terms.

The jobs — often part-time positions in the retail or service industries — are not necessarily life-sustaining but help improve the quality of lives.

Bullock said the survey shows a future “talent mismatch” for the Fond du Lac area. A labor shortage is projected for persons skilled in manufacturing and production — the type of employees needed by many Fond du Lac businesses.

He said a “startling” statistic is that the percentage of people planning to retire had increased from a similar study in 2008. Interestingly, the increase comes at a time of economic and future uncertainty.

“They are saying they will find a way to retire with what they have,” Bullock said.

More than 3,100 workers in the Fond du Lac labor force completed surveys.

Results showed 17.8 percent of surveyed employees plan to retire within the next five years and 17.6 percent plan to do so within six to 10 years (a cumulative loss of 35.4 percent of workers within the next 10 years).

“Despite the recession of 2008, the loss of values in the housing and stock markets, rising debt associated with federal economic stimulus programs, high unemployment rates and two major wars, baby boomers are very committed to their intentions to retire when they feel financially stable enough to do so,” according to the study.

It concludes that baby boomers are planning to retire as soon as they are financially able — with the sole exception being their desire to have access to benefits post-retirement.

“The folks in manufacturing or production workers are not likely to come back to that work force,” Bullock said. “So they truly will be lost to us.”

The study says access to all possible replacement workers becomes an “immediate concern.”


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