From “Dentists warn of high acidity in some energy drinks” — MADISON, Wis. – Popular energy drinks claim to give people hours of energy, but dentists said people may be bathing their teeth in acid when they consume energy drinks.

They come in flashy containers, promising a boost to get you through those long days.

“A lot of people really do sit and just drink this stuff,” said Madison College dental hygiene student Alicia Selzler.

But when the jolt runs dry, new research shows, people are left with are serious hazards to their teeth.

“I used to drink these in high school myself,” said Selzler. “And I always wanted to do hygiene, but I never really thought of what this is actually doing to my teeth until I saw this.”

Selzler is no stranger to sugar’s destructive path, but the experiment she’s conducting with her classmates at Madison College examines the acid content of energy drinks.

“The citric acid is the one ingredient that we noticed that if it was listed near the top of the ingredient list, that was one of those solutions we knew we were going to get a low pH,” said Marcy LeFave, Madison College dental hygiene faculty member.

On a pH scale, a reading of 7 is neutral, like water. The lower the number, the more acidic the chemical. Students measured the pH of a variety of drinks. Coffee and milk showed pH scores of around 5 and 6, respectively. Root beer was around 4.

But a sugar-free bottle of Vitamin Water Zero showed a high level of acidity in a test, Selzler said.

“It’s actually Vitamin Water Zero,” said Selzler. “It’s showing a pH of 3.15. So the pH of that product is really, really low.”

The energy drink in the experiment logged a pH close to 3 as well. Battery acid reads -1 on the pH scale.

And with the popularity of these types of drinks, researchers said it’s only a matter of time before a rising number of dentists expend more of their energy on tooth decay.

“The problem is they sip on them throughout the day.” said LeFave. “So they’re constantly bathing their teeth in a solution that is 3.0. We even find some that are 2.5 pH. So we know those are very acidic.”

“I always tell my patients, and I’ve learned from my hygienist and my teachers, if you sip all day, you get decay,” said Selzler, “So this is kind of what we like to show people, the acid and what it’s all doing.”

With sugar, the decay process begins after the sugar reacts with the bacteria in a person’s mouth to produce the acid that eventually gets to his or her teeth. When drinking energy drinks high in citric acid, it skips the sugar-bacteria chemical reaction completely. Researchers said the citric acid could damage a person’s teeth faster.


From “MPTC recognizes staff, partner” — Moraine Park Technical College found many ways to honor career and technical education month, celebrated throughout the nation in February.

One of the ways was through the annual Moraine Park Association of CTE awards banquet, held Feb. 21 at Beaver Dam Country Club.

The banquet recognized individuals and organizations for their dedication to and excellence in career and technical education. The following individuals were honored with awards: Stephanie Lueck of Campbellsport for outstanding support professional; Kathy Vandemark of Kewaskum for outstanding CTE leader; Terri Wilkens of Mayville for outstanding instructor; Amy Patterson of Beaver Dam for new instructor and Bonnie Baerwald of Fond du Lac for community involvement. The Business Awards of Merit went to Kondex Corporation for supporting Moraine Park.

Throughout the year, MPACTE supports student achievement by awarding eight $300 scholarships to full-time Moraine Park students and five $200 scholarships to part-time Moraine Park students. Scholarships are cosponsored by both the Moraine Park Federation of Teachers and the MPACTE organization.

For more information about Moraine Park visit For more information on statewide CTE month activities visit

From “Nicolet College expands welding program” — RhinelanderHearing about jobs on the rise can be comforting.

A program expansion at Nicolet College in Rhinelander highlights one of those growing job markets.

They’re expanding their welding program to bring in more students and meet the needs of a growing workforce.

“The need for welders, not only in our district here, but nationwide, is phenomenal,” said welding instructor Chuck Kopp.
Expanding the welding program at Nicolet College is the result of two grants totaling 1.2 million dollars.

“We have accelerated our series of classes so that we can get our students out into jobs sooner, we have upgraded equipment, and hired some new instructors and we’ve re-vamped the curriculum to better meet employer’s needs,” said Elizabeth Burmaster, President of Nicolet College.

Part of that expansion means going from 17 to 23 work stations.

“What they’ll be able to do with them is the same thing they’re doing here now with the booths that are existing, which is all the different processes,” said Kopp.

Kopp says this one year program is helping students get jobs in the Northwoods.

“So this is a response to our manufacturers, to try to satisfy their need for welders and give them the ability to grow their businesses,” said Kopp. 


From “Mobile lab lets Lakeshore Technical College bring skills training to students across Northeastern Wisconsin” — CLEVELAND – During a visit this morning to commemorate Lakeshore Technical College’s (LTC) new mobile manufacturing training lab, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch commended the projects’ partners for efforts to connect Wisconsinites from across the region with skills training for jobs that are in demand.

“There are opportunities now to develop skills that we know manufacturers are seeking,” Lt. Governor Kleefisch said. “Communities across Northeastern Wisconsin will reap the economic benefits thanks to approaches like this new mobile training lab to address the skills gap and prepare individuals for good-paying jobs in today’s labor market.”

Lt. Governor Kleefisch joined Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson, Department of Corrections (DOC) Executive Assistant Dennis Schuh, leaders from LTC and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), and private-sector partners to celebrate the completion of the new mobile manufacturing training lab.

The lab, modeled after a similar lab that NWTC and the Bay Area Workforce Development Board jointly launched in 2011, will travel to local high schools in the LTC district to provide on-site training in advanced manufacturing. The training will provide students instruction in industrial maintenance, programmable logic controls, and other components. Students will be able to complete a 5-credit technical college course that can be applied to LTC’s electro-mechanical technology program.

In addition to schools, the lab will also travel to DOC adult institutions in the region to help inmates learn marketable skills that will help them successfully pursue good-paying jobs upon their transition from prison back into the community. The vast majority of prison inmates will complete their prison sentences and one day return to the community. Successful employment is a key factor to help reduce recidivism.

The lab was developed as a partnership between DWD, DOC, Lakeshore and Northeast Wisconsin Technical Colleges, and several partners in the private sector, including Rockwell Automation, Curt G. Joa, Inc., and Plenco.

DOC Secretary Ed Wall said: “We are pleased to partner with Lakeshore Technical College on their mobile lab unit. The lab will give inmates the chance to learn skills that will help them get a job in the community. This partnership provides opportunities for offenders to change their behavior and make Wisconsin a safer place.”

DWD Secretary Newson said the training lab is reflective of the innovative approaches that DWD is taking under Governor Scott Walker’s leadership to address the skills gap and prepare Wisconsin residents for the modern workforce.

The “Wisconsin Fast Forward” bill (AB 14 / SB 23), which Governor Walker wants fast-tracked through the Legislature, would fund the development of a cutting-edge labor market information system, $15 million in worker training grants to be administered by DWD, and 4 positions in an Office of Skills Development to be created at DWD. The legislation is part of a larger $100 million investment in Wisconsin’s workforce that Governor Walker has proposed over the coming biennium.

“Governor Walker has committed significant resources to develop our state’s workforce and provide flexible resources to private-sector job creators,” said DWD Secretary Newson. “DWD and Wisconsin’s technical colleges are close partners in connecting Wisconsin job seekers to training opportunities and, ultimately, good-paying jobs in the private sector. This mobile lab is one more innovation that will empower job seekers to transition into good-paying jobs that promote independence and will help them pursue their dreams.”

From “Students take CVTC stories to Madison” —  When Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Dental Hygienist program students Randi Johnson and Jordyn Becker talked to state legislators in Madison Tuesday, it wasn’t because they had concerns about lawmakers’ brushing habits. They wanted the people who hold the state purse strings to know what a technical education is doing for them, and how it has them reaching out to the community.

“We have to do 100 hours of community service before we can graduate,” said Johnson, of Eau Claire. Outside-the-classroom activities may include providing sealants and fluoride treatments for children. “We do that by going right into the elementary schools.”

The students joined others from the Wisconsin Technical College System’s 16 colleges in Madison for a legislative day sponsored by the Wisconsin Association for Career and Technical Education. Students set up displays about their schools and programs in the Capitol Rotunda, while others personally visited legislators’ offices to lobby on technical education issues.

Johnson and Becker combined messages about their community outreach efforts with information on specific issues. Becker said they would like to see Wisconsin adopt a program Minnesota has pioneered in which a certified advanced dental hygiene practitioner could provide services without the direct supervision of a dentist.

“We’d like to see that so we can keep our jobs here,” said Becker.

“We’ve had some supporters, but with others it’s tough,” said Johnson. “The dentists are opposed to it.”

Dylan Warzynski of Almond and Josh Frederickson of Owen represented CVTC’s Agriscience Technician program in Madison, and specifically talked about the biodiesel program.

“We tell them what we do at CVTC to promote the growth of the agriculture industry and to promote the use of biodiesel fuels,” said Warzynski.

He added that they were prepared to speak in favor of renewal of a program that offered $1 in tax credits for every gallon of biodiesel fuel blended with regular diesel. That program was recently renewed, Warsynski said.

“We wanted to showcase programs that really showed what CVTC does,” said Alisa Hoepner Schley, student life specialist at CVTC, who helped select the programs for presentation. “Biodiesel is really cutting edge and we wanted to show what students are doing here at CVTC, making biodiesel fuel out of seeds in a mobile laboratory.”

Hoepner Schley said the Dental Hygienist program is a good example of CVTC’s partnerships in the community, with students working with local professional dentists and hygienists and spending time volunteering in the community.

“Our presentations were geared toward legislators. The goal of the program is to show what our students are doing in technical education,” said Hoepner Schley.


From “On Campus: Blackhawk Technical College eyes new manufacturing training site” — Students hoping to learn advanced manufacturing could soon get another new facility in the region. Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville recently approved plans to open a 105,000-square-foot industrial facility in Milton by the fall semester in 2014.

It would piggyback on a new advanced manufacturing training center at Madison Area Technical College that was approved in a 2010 building referendum and is slated to open later this year.

Blackhawk’s District Board approved plans for the college to lease the facility and convert it into a training ground for five of the college’s programs initially with four more moving there in the future.

The initial wave of programs in the new facility include precision machining, industrial maintenance, electromechanical technology, welding and metal fabrication. The next wave would include computer systems technology, industrial engineering, mechanical design technology and HVAC.

“The face of manufacturing is changing radically, and the need for highly trained technicians has never been more acute,” said Tom Eckert, Blackhawk president, in a statement. The new training facility “will provide us some much-needed space and at the same time help address the workforce gap.”

The lease will cost $155,125 in the first year at $1.48 a square foot. In the second year the rate increases to $2.88 a square foot with annual increases limited to 2 percent after that, Eckert said.

The plan must still be approved by the state technical college system board.


From “NTC takes next step in connecting students with gold collar careers” — Advances in technology and an increasing demand for skilled workers have transformed the manufacturing world, leaving employees to trade in those trusty old blue collars for ones with a gilded sheen.

With the help of its partners in local industry and education, Northcentral Technical College (NTC) is taking the next step in giving students a chance to wear that gold collar, provided it is a good fit for them, said Bobbi Damrow, dean of NTC’s North Campus in Phillips.

Positions making up the shiny, new field of gold collar careers fall into a variety of trade areas, including welding, electromechanical work, fabrication and even to some extent, information technology, as Damrow explained.

Workers who enter jobs forming today’s manufacturing sector aren’t likely to find the shop conditions that awaited their grandparents; use of robotic equipment and other advanced technology are now all part of a day’s work, according to Damrow.

NTC is but one partner in a group of northwest Wisconsin educational institutes and businesses that have joined together in advancing the Gold Collar Careers initiative – a grassroots response to challenges regional manufacturers were facing in their efforts to secure workers equipped with the advanced skills needed to thrive in the industry.

“Manufacturing growth was being inhibited due to a shortage of these skilled workers,” according to the introduction page on the Gold Collar Careers initiative Web site.

Damrow said that NTC has been involved in the movement for probably over five years due to demographic trends showing where job openings would be as Price County’s workforce ages. “In Phillips, we have a manufacturing focus.”

That focus is evident on a much larger scale at the Wausau campus where “they’ve got a number of very high tech, complete programs for the gold collar career sector,” Damrow said.

NTC’s North Campus already offers Phillips and Chequamegon High School students an introduction to this in-demand career sector along with a shot at earning 12 transferable college credits in the same certificate area via its newly introduced Manufacturing Electronics Maintenance (MEM) Academy.

Now, the campus is poised to debut a symposium on that same class of high demand careers geared at students in grades 7-12. They’ll be holding the Gold Collar Careers Symposium at Phillips Middle School Thursday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m. in partnership with the Chequamegon School District, Phillips High School, Price County Economic Development Association and Northwest Wisconsin CEP (Concentrated Employment Program) Inc. Among other areas of work, CEP offers youth apprenticeship programming.

Students in all three Price County school districts – Chequamegon, Phillips and Prentice – are invited to take part in the event.

One simple goal stands as the driving force behind the symposium:

“…We want to give the students some orientation that we do have gold collar careers in Price County,” Damrow said.

The event is set to open with displays presented by Price County manufacturers and a spread of light snacks. Students, whether already taking transcripted courses with NTC or just starting to think about future career options, will get a chance to learn about local industries, the products they produce and employment needs foreseen in the future. The second part of the event, slated to run from 6:30-7:30 p.m., will feature a panel discussion with local gold collar employees, employers and Northwest Wisconsin CEP reps weighing in on industry topics. After that, viewing of tabletop displays and talks with local manufacturers should resume, according to Damrow.

Students are asked to come to the event accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“I think it’s important that everyone is on the same page for what types of jobs are in the area,” Damrow said.

Price County students who’d like to participate in the event are asked to return a registration slip to their high school offices by March 22.

While Damrow said that she realizes gold collar careers won’t be a good fit for everyone, she would like each student to get a chance to try the job field on for size in case it suits them well.

One other upcoming event aims at giving students an even earlier introduction to manufacturing careers. The program Get S.M.A.R.T. (Science and Math Activities Using Real-World Thinking) delivers “a day of hands-on fun and exploration” to area students in grades 5-12.

Get S.M.A.R.T. is scheduled to be held at the Manufacturing Lab of the NTC North Campus in Phillips Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Program participants will be divided into two separate sessions. They can expect to spend half of their day at NTC completing a welding project and the other half creating a mystery project using state-of-the-art technology. As in the symposium, students taking part in this program will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Seventeen of the available 24 spots had already filled up as of Monday, Feb. 25, so Damrow encouraged any students who might be interested in participating to act fast and register today. There is a $10 fee for the event to cover the cost of electronics kits used in program activities. The registration fee will secure students lunch, a T-shirt, their completed projects and door prizes.

Damrow said that she’s excited for the chance to be able to give younger students a taste of the type of work at the heart of gold collar careers.

“It’s going to be a fun day,” Damrow said, adding that Get S.M.A.R.T. events will be held at all three of the largest NTC campuses, including Antigo and Wausau in addition to Phillips. Each of the events are structured consistently so that students will find the same experience, both educational and enjoyable, no matter which site they head to for the event, according to Damrow.

NTC has gradually cast a wider net in terms of getting educational offerings in the area to complement the needs of businesses, as Damrow explained.

First, new welding and MEM training was introduced in response to feedback from members of local industry that they’d like to see programs at the Phillips campus oriented more toward the demands of the manufacturing field. The next step was bringing MEM programming to the county’s high schools via academy courses.

“Now, we’re actually bringing some of those very basic concepts down to the middle schools,” Damrow said.

She explained the benefit of introducing students to the career field at these younger grade levels, touching on the key role technology has come to take on in every area of life, not just manufacturing.

“They’re very tech savvy and with the gold collar careers kind of adding that very technical, automated element, I think that introducing it to them at such a young age should really instill in them some excitement about that type of career path,” Damrow said.

Anyone with questions about the Get S.M.A.R.T. program is asked to give Samantha Buchberger a call at (715) 803-1711 or send her an email at

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