Trailer will bring Nicolet College to area communities

September 16, 2013

From StarJournalNow.com: “Trailer will bring Nicolet College to area communities” —  The Nicolet Area Technical College district covers more than 4,000 square miles so for those living in the district it may not be easy to get to the main campus located just outside of Rhinelander for certain services.

The college has moved to remedy this with a new trailer that will be taken around to area communities to bring the school to prospective students.

“We can really do anything in the trailer that we can do in our office,” Kenneth Urban, Nicolet vice president of teaching, learning and student success, said. “The only thing we can’t do is testing. But financial aid, registration, we can do that in this trailer.”

Urban was one of the leading figures in trying to find a way the college could reach all corners of the district.

“Our district is 80 percent the size of Connecticut so we have a big area to cover,” Urban said. “It is not easy for people to sometimes get the services they need by coming to the main campus.”

The idea to bring those services to the district via trailer was the logical next step so the college began looking for a suitable vehicle.

Fortunately, they did not have to look far.

“Luckily the Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation is the organization that handles federal property in Wisconsin,” Urban said. “They had a FEMA trailer sitting in their lot in Waunakee.”

The trailer, Urban said, was just a typical camping trailer so the college needed to put work into it to make it a mobile extension of the college.

Again, the school did not have far to go to find qualified help.

“We have some very talented students and staff at this school,” Urban said.

Students and staff went to work on gutting the trailer and putting in the equipment and finishes needed to make the trailer function like the home office.

They removed the bathroom and made that they technology hub and electrical hub that feeds the two computer work stations in the area. They turned a couch into a work surface and installed an oak table with the college’s oak leaf logo.

On the outside, of the trailer, the students modified the main side window and inside built a storage case that houses a flat panel television, one of two in the unit.

“The idea is that you would pull up to where you are going to set up, you put the awing down and set up a table in front and have the television playing behind you with information,” Urban said. “We can customize the message to whatever we are doing that day. If we are there for financial aid sign up, we can have a video about financial aid playing. Or if it is a general visit, we can have a video of information about the school playing.”

Urban said the idea is to have at least two school representatives with the trailer when it goes to events in communities to help people with their needs. But he adds the college is still experimenting on how it best works in the real world.

“It has been out on one official event and that was Rediculous Dae in Rhinelander,” he said. “People really liked it. We learned thought that we need paper weights for the papers on the table outside. But that is where we are at right now, we are experimenting to see what we need and how the trailer works best.”

The trailer will be used for two more events this year though those dates have not been finalized but Urban said he is excited to get the unit out in the public.

“We want to take it where the people that will use the college the most will be,” he said. “We will stay away from tourist events, but you will see this trailer at high school football games where a couple of schools in our district are playing each other or other events where people that use the college will be.”

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