From woodworkingnetwork.com: “Fox Valley Technical College Approved as NKBA Accredited Provider“– The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recently announced that Fox Valley Technical College has met all requirements to become an NKBA Accredited Program provider of AAS Interior Design – Kitchen and Bath Design, and Kitchen and Bath Certificate.

NKBA Accreditation serves the professional needs of the industry and ensures consistent, quality education for students who want to become kitchen or bathroom design professionals. The NKBA currently recognizes over 40 schools in North America whose kitchen and bath curriculum meet the educational standards established by the association.

These established standards include the knowledge and skills necessary for competent practice in the profession, divided into four categories: Planning and Design, Construction/Mechanical Systems, Business Management, and Products/Materials. Each school seeking accreditation must adequately meet stringent NKBA standards in each of these areas.

These schools submit a self-study and an analysis of competencies as related to these areas of study. An onsite evaluation is conducted, consisting of classroom observations; a curriculum-review meeting with faculty; a presentation of projects; and interviews with students, faculty and administration. The educational institution must have accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or a provincial ministry of education in Canada.

NKBA Accredited Programs are evaluated with respect to mission, administration, curriculum, faculty, and resources to determine eligibility and the students’ aptitude toward fulfilling the Association’s required competencies. Industry professionals evaluate student work samples as a subjective measure of the program. Programs that meet the qualifications for accreditation or a preliminary status of supported are published in print and on the NKBA website.

Each year, the Association monitors the progress of these schools with the submission of student work samples, based on the NKBA Student Design Competition. This process provides an outcome-based assessment to the schools. Accredited Programs have a reevaluation period of seven years.

Fox Valley Technical College earned NKBA Accreditation by demonstrating that it meets these requirements, which represent the basis of a program the NKBA considers essential for quality education. Each student must complete classroom work as well as internships that enhance and extend the classroom experiences. These internships are monitored by the educational institution, which makes certain that they meet the NKBA’s required student competencies. Programs accredited by the National Kitchen & Bath Association must have an NKBA Certified advisor or faculty member.

From antigodailyjournal.com: “Antigo area residents getting a jump on four-year education at NTC here” — Antigo area residents are getting a jump on a four-year college degree—and saving some big cash in the process—at Northcentral Technical College.

Next fall, three students from Antigo will become the first to take advantage of an agreement between NTC and Michigan Technological University that will not only help them earn their bachelor’s degrees in two years, but will save them more than $100,000 each in the process.

Ted Wierzba is one of the students transferring to Michigan Tech in the fall to receive his bachelor of science in electrical engineering. He says with the reputation of the engineering program at Michigan Tech he saw no reason to look anywhere else, plus he says, “The cost savings is crazy!”

Wierzba, Chris Lord and Loryn Becker are all transferring their electromechanical technology associate degree from NTC into the electrical engineering program at Michigan Tech as juniors.

Antigo campus dean Larry Kind said that NTC’s one-year industrial electrical maintenance program serves as the first year of the associate degree electromechanical program.

An additional agreement offers eligible NTC students scholarships that equals the difference between non-resident and resident tuition, saving them $100,280 by starting locally.

“The best part is being able to further my education without taking any steps back from what I’ve already done at NTC,” Lord said. “I didn’t think it would be this easy.”

All three men say with the help of NTC’s Transfer & Placement Office this has been a very simple step for them.

“They walked us through the whole thing. It was so easy,” Becker, who hopes to specialize in robotics and someday work for NASA, said. “It flowed perfectly.”

According to Jeffrey Chamberlin, who instructs the industrial maintenance classes at NTC in Antigo, the one-year program in Antigo allows students to gauge their interest in the career.

“It’s a nice step process,” Chamberlin said. “They can see how they like it, plus they can do it right here at home.”

Greg Neuman, who is currently enrolled in the one-year program in Antigo, said he is considering more training.

“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “I’m not quite that far along yet.”

Brandon Ingram, also enrolled at Antigo, agreed that studying here is a big money-saver.

The electromechanical technology associate degree program is just one of four programs with transfer agreements to Michigan Tech. NTC’s architectural design and technology associate degree transfers into the bachelor of science in construction management at Michigan Tech while the IT – network specialist associate degree transfers into the bachelor of science in computer network and system administration program.

Finally, NTC’s mechanical design engineering technology associate degree transfers to the bachelor of science in mechanical engineering technology at Michigan Tech.

NTC has a series of articulation agreements with public and private universities, allowing students to complete much of their education locally, at a far lower cost.

Examples include accounting, applied engineering, business management, criminal justice, human services, machine tool, marketing, nursing, sustainable architecture and woods.

Agreements are in place across the University of Wisconsin system as well as schools such as Minnesota State, Northland College, Viterbo University and others.

From news8000.com: “Could be a shortage of manufacturing workers in Wisconsin” — Skilled workers may be hard to come by in the state of Wisconsin over the next 20 years. The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation was in La Crosse Tuesday to highlight its 20-year plan to combat the issue.

Western Technical College is one of 16 stops the Manufacturing Commerce Foundation is making in Wisconsin. Technical colleges play a big role in giving students the education needed to become skilled employees in manufacturing.

With the baby-boomer generation coming to retirement age, there could be a higher number of job openings in Wisconsin.

“Well this is an aging state. We expect about 800,000 additional people in this state over the next 30 years but 95 percent of those are going to be over the age of 65,” Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation President, Jim Morgan said.

According to the Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation, skilled laborers are a dying breed.

“We’ve got some challenges coming down the road around talent attraction, around business competitiveness, that we’ve really got to start that conversation right now,” Morgan said.

The WMC Foundation wants to establish a 20-year plan called Future Wisconsin.

“The things that were outlined here today are trying to get people to think more about manufacturing careers as viable options,” Western Technical College President Lee Rasch said.

Schools like Western Technical College are big contributors to the plan.

“We’re key players because we do a couple things. We work very closely with area manufacturers, we have an existing network, we provide a lot of education and training for the next generation of the workforce in manufacturing and we also represent this region,” Rasch said.

Training the next generation may be tough. The WMC Foundation says keeping that age group in Wisconsin is not easy.

“Unless we do something to keep our young people here and figure out a way to attract more people here we’re not going to have the people available for the jobs that we’re going to have,” Morgan said.

The president of Western said he was glad that the foundation stopped in La Crosse. It allowed for more of the manufacturers in our area to take part in the discussion.

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation will be working with colleges and universities throughout the year.

 

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, other state leaders visit Wausau West student inventors” –WAUSAU — A Wausau West High School student project to build a remote-controlled snowblower has drawn attention from state officials who are promoting technical education and related careers.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy met the Wausau West students Wednesday during a tour to mark Career and Technical Education Month.

“Their enthusiasm for learning is evident as soon as you enter their lab,” Kleefisch said in a statement released afterward. “These students were so engaged in the project that they worked on it until 9 p.m. one night. Their teacher had to send them home. They built what we all hope will be a winner when they and teams from schools across the country travel to Boston in June for an invention expo.”

Wausau West is one of 15 schools nationally to receive $10,000 grants from the Lemelson-MIT Program in Boston. Teams can use the money to tackle real-world problems with technology and invent solutions; in Wausau West’s case, it’s the “Autonomous snow removal device.”

Kleefisch, Newson and Foy also stopped at CTECH Manufacturing in Weston to learn about its youth apprentice partnership with Wausau West. The state last year awarded $1.86 million in Youth Apprenticeship grants, including $225,599 to the North Central Wisconsin School-to-Career Partnership, a consortium that includes the Wausau School District.

From wxow.com: “WMC Foundation looks into 20-year strategic plan for Wis.” — LA CROSSE – With the baby boomers retiring, Wisconsin will soon lose it’s largest group of workers.

The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation is looking for ways to replace them.

WMC Foundation President Jim Morgan traveled to Western Technical College Tuesday to find out where there is a job shortage in La Crosse, and discuss ways to train students to fill those positions.

The foundation will use that information to create a 20-year strategic plan for the state, called “Future Wisconsin.”

“And we’re trying to look at a couple of key areas like talent attraction, business competitiveness, globalization, entrepreneurship. The types of things that I think if we’re going to be successful in 20 years, we’ve got to start planning for now,” Morgan said.

There’s already a need for welders and machinists, he added.

The WMC Foundation will be meeting with 16 technical colleges, along with other schools, businesses and commerce associations for input.

From fox6now.com: “Increasing demand for apprenticeships as aging workers retire” — Want to get paid to go to school? With an apprenticeship — you can do just that! Through an apprenticeship, an individual has access to on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. A participating employer teaches the skills of the trade on the job. The classroom instruction is theoretical and practical knowledge pertaining to the given trade. It’s an option more and more students in Wisconsin are taking — with the growing need for skilled manufacturing workers in the state.

“The student works 32 hours a week and goes to class eight hours a week, but they’re paid for 40 hours a week,” Debbie Davidson with Gateway Technical College said.

In a nutshell, that’s how an apprenticeship works. Students get hands-on and in-classroom training in a service, construction or industrial field. Typically, the programs run anywhere from three to five years.

“Apprenticeship is really unique in that you start with an employer with a need and match them with an individual to go through the training,” Davidson said.

Officials with Gateway Technical College say the demand for apprenticeship opportunities has grown, as has the number of students enrolling in programs at the school.

“In 2012, we had a total of 49 apprentices. Then, a year later, we had 80 apprentices. Now we have 140,” Davidson said.

“We’ve already started plans on four brand new programs coming up and we know that we’re going to be doubling our numbers within a very short time,” Wisconsin Apprentice Training Representative Sandy Briezman said.

So what’s driving the renewed interest in apprenticeships? We’re told it’s a skills gap, fueled at least in part by soon-to-retire workers.

“The skills gap that we’re seeing now is what was projected even before the downturn in 2009 because people were planning to retire at that point. They stayed a little bit longer, but they kept aging, so now we’re seeing people are actually at that point of retirement and companies are seeing that we need to fill that gap — and before our people leave and retire how can we utilize them to train that next generation of worker?” Davidson said.

Davidson says the late 90s were really kind of the high point for apprenticeship programs.

The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards says statewide, there were more than 15,000 apprentices in 2001. By 2012, they had dropped to about 9,700.

From wnflam.com: “Shortage of qualified manufacturing, construction workers” — As the economy improves, many parts of Wisconsin are in need of qualified builders and skilled manufacturing employees.  Those companies often look to the state’s apprenticeship program to fill their needs — but the apprenticeship pool has gotten smaller.  State officials said there were almost 9,800 apprenticeships in the various building trades last year — down from almost 16,000 in 2001.

The Wisconsin State Journal said it has become more of a challenge to get young people to consider apprenticeships, despite the need for skilled workers.  Madison electrical contractor Mike Pohlman said his company does a lot of outreach to schools — and some schools don’t seem to want to direct students to the building trades.  Madison College apprenticeship manager Jim Cook the situation has improved in Dane County because of a recent construction boom.  He says the demand for apprentice services has not been this strong since World War Two.

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “As temperatures drop, solar energy heats up” — GRAND RAPIDS — Reports of recent propane shortages have made front page headlines across North America, especially in the Midwest, central Canada and California.

For much of January and early February, propane suppliers had difficulty finding the product, and residential customers were paying significantly higher prices. Propane rates are beginning to fall in some places, but this winter’s shortage has been an eye opener for many who depend on propane.

Propane, a byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, is commonly used for residential heating. Pipeline outages, depleted inventories and a winter with below-average temperatures have increased demand for the fossil fuel. This three-legged onslaught on the supply of propane became a recipe for skyrocketing energy bills; prices doubled or even tripled in many areas.

This sharp increase in utility bills has forced some to pursue other energy options. Mid-State Technical College instructor Ben Nusz points to renewable energy options as a reasonable solution.

“Solar heating is one effective alternative to propane and natural gas,” Nusz said. “A one-time investment in solar brings a lifetime of free energy.”

Nusz teaches for the Renewable Thermal Energy Technician program at MSTC, where he has had the opportunity to use cutting edge energy technology and teach its features and benefits to his students. Equipment in the industry is becoming smaller, more efficient, and, best of all, increasingly affordable by small businesses and homeowners.

Students in these MSTC career programs acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a burgeoning industry from faculty who have real-world experience. Through this hands-on education, students often have opportunities to leave campus to work with local companies and organizations on real, renewable energy projects. In fact, MSTC even has offered some of its own facilities as hands-on laboratories. Nusz says that arrangement has been a win for all involved.

“MSTC renewable energy program students are receiving a comprehensive education without having to travel far from the classroom,” Nusz said.

Nusz spoke of several student projects that are already up and running. For example, a solar water heating system was installed by students in the Center for Sustainable Energy Technology, a state-of-the-art facility where many MSTC renewable energy classes and labs are held.

Students also have installed a solar air heating system in the Automotive Technician program lab to counteract the high costs of heating a space with numerous doors and bays. This spring students will install a solar heating system that will help heat the greenhouse used in the Urban Forestry Technician program, and plans already are in place for a solar water heating system to heat the cosmetology program’s salon and to provide space heating on the newly remodeled Stevens Point Campus.

“Each of these projects is the result of what the students learned in the classroom and labs,” Nusz said. “Future students will benefit from the effort these students are putting in today.”

While students do not currently log data for the new systems, it is safe to say that these student projects are also saving the college money.

“The icing on the cake is that MSTC facilities are receiving important long-term money-saving and eco-friendly upgrades at a fraction of the normal installation cost,” Nusz said.

Nusz also has good news for people looking to get into an exciting, up-and-coming field. A trend toward increased adoption of renewable energy technology raises the need for skilled people to install and service that equipment.

“There are not enough skilled workers in renewable energy to handle the anticipated growth of the field in coming years,” Nusz said.

MSTC offers four career programs in the field of renewable energy, none of which are available anywhere else in the 16-college Wisconsin Technical College System: Process & Biorefinery Technology, Renewable Energy Specialist, Renewable Electricity Technician, and Renewable Thermal Energy Technician. The latter two programs are undergoing some changes to accommodate local workforce needs and will have new names later this year. All four programs are available at MSTC’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus in Grand Rapids.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Column: Local employer feedback is essential to providing relevant MSTC programming” — Collaboration with local employers and community partners is critical to achieving the Mid-State Technical College mission.

MSTC works closely with these stakeholders through membership on program advisory committees and participation in focus groups. This collaboration enables our college to understand the current and emerging skills needed by the workforce and provide the training employers need and seek.

We rely heavily on this information in order to keep our offerings up-to-date. This critical information is used to plan and develop curriculum, determine the length of training and establish certificate or degree requirements. It is also a resource to learn which technical skills are necessary in various sectors of the local workforce, which seem to change every year. In fact, many of these skills were unheard of just a generation ago.

At times, this valuable input might point to workforce needs for a new program offering.

A recent example of employer collaboration is the development of a new Stainless Steel Welding certificate. MSTC was fortunate to receive a federal grant through the Department of Labor that permitted us to remodel and retool the Marshfield Campus welding shop. This process was aided by a meeting of stainless steel fabrication employers last year that verified the skills entry-level stainless steel welders needed for local employment.

Employers also provided input into welding lab equipment selections, course content and the structure of training. The outcome, the new Stainless Steel Welding certificate, runs year round. New students can start any month and can work at their own pace and ability.

Beginning in August, MSTC will offer a new Health and Wellness Promotion associate degree. Health care providers and educators, along with several community agencies, came together to advise MSTC on this emerging field. This associate degree will prepare students with knowledge of health and wellness concepts, as well as program development and promotion skills. We plan to deliver this coursework in a flexible format, mostly online.

Local, regional and national trend data from the Department of Workforce Development, or DWD, help us determine emerging and growing workforce training needs, yet local employer feedback is essential when investigating a new offering. By staying in contact with employers and employees in the industry, the DWD, and many other sources, MSTC is able to offer relevant, in-demand, and up-to-date education and training.

For more information about these or any of the exciting educational opportunities available at MSTC, go to www.mstc.edu or visit your local technical college campus.

From postbulletin.com: “U of M, ISU students on top team at Midwest Dairy Challenge” — APPLETON, Wis. — Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota students were among the first place finishers in the Midwest Dairy Challenge.

The 10th annual Midwest Dairy Challenge attracted nearly 60 students from 13 college dairy programs to the event hosted by Fox Valley Technical College.

This is the first time Fox Valley Technical College hosted the event, which has been in Wisconsin three other times.

“The Dairy Challenge is such a positive experience for the college students involved, in developing analytical, teamwork, communication and dairy management skills,” said Kevin Rauchholz, event co-chairman and ag instructor at Fox Valley Technical College. “Students learn how to tie farm management decisions with economics, and it’s important to get students and industry together. Students make many good connections through Dairy Challenge.”

Dairy Challenge students work in teams to evaluate and provide recommendations for an operating dairy farm. Participants worked in mixed-university teams of four or five students and assessed all farm operations, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction and animal health. Students collaborated on a 20-minute team presentation that detailed observations and suggestions to a panel of judges.

Host farms were Sugar Creek Farms, New London, and Country Aire Dairy of Greenleaf.

Participating universities and technical schools included Dordt College, Fox Valley Technical College, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Lakeshore Technical College, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, Purdue University, South Dakota State University, Southwest Technical College, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Platteville and University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Wisconsin dairy professionals presented educational seminars to help students prepare for their Dairy Challenge task and gain more real-world experience. Sessions were presented by:

Judges selected two teams as first place winners.

On Farm 1, team Cooperative Resources International was awarded first place. Team members were Jessie Hammerand, ISU; Jamie Pfaff, UW-River Falls; Andrew Plumski, University of Minnesota; Ryan Pralle, UW-Madison; and Heather Smith, Purdue.

On Farm 2, judges selected team Renaissance Nutrition for the top award. Individuals included Kristopher Boucher of Kansas State; Veronica Hilton, Purdue; Kristin Leiteritz, Lakeshore Technical College; Max Luchterhand, UW-Madison; and Kara Uhlenhake, Ohio State.

A complete list of Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge contest participants and their placing can be found at www.dairychallenge.org/mw_event.php.

From newnorthb2b.com: “Masters of Green” — by Robin Bruecker – Being a good corporate citizen and natural-resources steward is something any responsible business should strive for, and that in itself is its own reward.

A yardstick by which to compare one’s progress among other companies can be useful, however, and a little kudos for a job well done is always welcome.

Enter the Green Masters, a program of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, an entity established through the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business.

The no-cost program allows businesses an opportunity to earn credentials for its sustainability practices in regard to energy and water conservation, waste management and outreach efforts.

“Businesses from every corner of the state, of every size and from almost every sector” have taken part in Green Masters, noted Thomas Eggert, executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. The program doesn’t provide training or guidance and instead gives rewards and recognition, although, Eggert said, “we have heard from many companies that our application is frequently downloaded as a template for what companies could be doing in the sustainability area.”

That application is about to be re-opened with a few tweaks for the 2014 year. Eggert noted that Green Masters has grown by 50 percent annually, with the current number of participants at 167.

Why should businesses be interested in adopting sustainability practices and enrolling in Green Masters?

“First, I’d tell them that interest in the program should come from within the business,” said Eggert. “My bet is that they have customers, investors, employees, future employees or their supply chain that is interested in what they are doing from a sustainability perspective.

“Second, I’d tell them that virtually every business gets into sustainability because of the cost savings opportunities,” he went on. “Cutting energy use certainly reduces the environmental footprint of an organization, but it also reduces their energy bill. Reducing the percent of raw materials that becomes waste and is sent to a landfill saves on the cost of landfilling material, but also ensures a greater percentage of raw materials are turned into finished product.”

Among those businesses who apply to participate in the Green Masters program each year, the top 20 percent are awarded the designation of Green Masters. Participating companies are assessed on an objective point system which evaluates sustainability efforts.

Why sustainability matters

A handful of northeast Wisconsin employers are among those designated Green Masters by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

Appleton-based ThedaCare acknowledges sustainability as one of its core values, said Paul Linzmeyer, sustainability leader for the health care provider.

“Businesses and organizations must begin to understand the compelling business case for triple bottom line sustainable practices, and the Green Masters program helps make that case more visible by recognizing successful work and outcomes,” said Linzmeyer.

Another Green Master, contract furniture manufacturer KI in Green Bay, recognizes the value of incorporating sustainability practices into manufacturing and doing business.

“Sustainability principles are an integral part of our core business strategy, products and services, and brand propositions, and, as such, all of our employees are engaged in sustainability,” explained Lisa Evenson, sustainability manager for KI.

Sustainability practices also make a favorable impression with customers, as such practices demonstrate innovation – such as material choice and product redesign – social responsibility, and environmental stewardship, Evenson noted.

Appvion Inc. – formerly known to many as Appleton Papers – was among the businesses that expressed interest in developing sustainability criteria back in 2008. The company’s chief environmental and regulatory counsel, Pam Barker, serves on the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Advisory Board.

“Appvion takes seriously its responsibility to use water, energy, fiber and chemicals wisely, which includes continuously seeking ways to reduce consumption and recycle,” said Bill Van Den Brandt, senior manager of corporate communications. “Although our company has a long tradition of environmental stewardship, our efforts became more focused and strategic since we developed a detailed sustainability plan in mid-2008.”

Schneider National of Green Bay regularly submits its sustainability efforts to Green Masters. In the heavy fuel consumption industry of transportation and logistics, Schneider has been committed to energy efficiency for three decades.

“We are very proud to call Wisconsin home. We are equally proud to be one of the most energy-efficient fleets in the transportation industry. The chance to earn a sustainability distinction honoring Wisconsin companies was extremely appealing to our company,” said Steve Matheys, Schneider’s chief administrative officer, who oversees the sustainability team.

Green practices & the bottom line

ThedaCare has numerous sustainability projects taking place at its facilities. Linzmeyer gave a few examples.

“We have been re-purposing single-use medical devices, which saved us almost $800,000 in 2013. We have been diverting almost 100 tons of operating-room waste from the landfill through our recycling efforts. The last several construction projects have diverted almost 70 percent of waste from landfills to recycling.”

The recycling means lower tipping fees for ThedaCare, while the energy-conservation projects have a one- to three-year return on investment, Linzmeyer noted.

Another sustainability project involves increasing the use of locally grown food at ThedaCare facilities. ThedaCare donated funds to Riverview Gardens in Appleton for the construction of five hoop houses, with the intent for the gardens to be one of the food suppliers for ThedaCare hospitals.

“We feel that if we can build a local food hub with an innovative, high-technology information and distribution system, that we can bring down the cost of the local food options and make them competitive with more traditional options,” explained Linzmeyer. “Our mission is to build healthy communities and if we are going to succeed, we must include building healthy, accessible, nutritious and affordable food systems.”

In 2012 alone, KI had 35 material-reduction and recycled-content improvement projects.

Examples included re-designing a table-folding mechanism to reduce the amount of material used; switching from paper-based MSDS, drawings, price lists and work instructions to digital versions; recycling scrap wood for boiler fuel instead of landfilling it; and reclaiming black powder used in powder coating.

The company also incorporates recycled, recyclable and renewable materials into its products, such as bio-based foam or recycled aluminum and steel, Evenson noted. Additionally, KI also has set reduction goals for greenhouse-gas emissions, water use and energy use at all of its North American facilities.

“In 2012, KI Wisconsin facilities saw a 6.2 percent reduction in materials, diverted 500,179 pounds from landfills, and achieved a cost savings equating to $507,201,” Evenson said.

In the paper industry, Appvion was among the first to measure and work to reduce its carbon footprint.

“We have introduced new or redesigned products and design platforms that help make product development ‘greener’ by streamlining product designs to use fewer chemicals, increasing design efficiency to use smaller quantities of chemicals, and substituting ingredients that reduce the impact on the environment,” said Van Den Brandt. For its efforts, Appvion was among the first Wisconsin firms in 2010 to receive the Green Masters designation. It’s earned the Green Masters credential each year since.

Making a case for sustainability

In 2013, marine engine manufacturer Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac also earned a Green Master designation. Since 2011, the company’s Fond du Lac operations have conserved energy in the form of 14 billion British thermal units (BTUs) of building heat. Water conservation equaled 250,000 gallons.

Its products are greener, too. Emissions from Mercury’s outboard engines have been reduced and fuel economy has been improved over the years. A new paint system installed in the Fond du Lac plant in 2011 resulted in a 50 percent reduction in volatile organic compound air emissions and a 50 percent reduction in paint-related hazardous wastes. Almost all of the aluminum used to make engines comes from recycled material.

“We have historically made sustainable activities an integral part of our core business practices, and we began formulizing them under company-wide policies in 2011 to ensure measurement and achievement,” said Mark Schwabero, Mercury president.

Schneider National’s ongoing efforts in fuel efficiency conserve more than 26 million gallons of fuel and reduce more than 300,000 tons of carbon byproducts annually, Matheys noted. For example, Schneider spent $19.8 million in 2012 on incentives that reward drivers for practicing fuel management techniques. The company has been testing natural gas-fueled tractors within its fleet and plans to expand the number of trucks this year.

The insurance industry can go through a lot of office products like paper, electronics and furniture. Appleton-based Secura Insurance, which is new to Green Masters, set up a green committee in 2010 to manage resources and reduce environmental impact.

Numerous recycling efforts at Secura include paper and cardboard, batteries, office electronics, and even employees’ electronics from home, as well as food composting. Printer and copier use is monitored and minimized, with printers on the duplex setting.

Green Bay-based Northeast Wisconsin Technical College created a sustainability team this past year involving faculty and students. Onsite changes to its campus include water filling stations, low-energy restroom remodels, and a building addition that uses advanced energy monitoring software, light tubes and a green roof, according to Amy Kox, associate dean for the energy and sustainability programs.

“The instructor and students in the Energy Management program have completed numerous energy audits for the college and local businesses as part of service learning,” said Kox. “The Solar Energy (program) students submitted grant applications to Focus on Energy for three solar installations on the Green Bay campus and were awarded these grants.”

Sustainable Food & Agriculture Systems program students have a campus organic garden and raised money for a student scholarship by selling community-supported agriculture shares and produce.

“We believe that these programs will provide the educated graduates ready to work, manage and operate green businesses of the future,” said Kox. “We believe we, as an organization, need to live what we teach.”

The right thing to do

For some businesses, sustainability efforts may be made even when they create costs instead of savings.

“Our sustainability plan has a triple bottom line to balance our environmental, economic and social impacts,” said Appvion’s Van Den Brandt. “We consider sustainability in everything we do. In many cases being a good environmental steward provides economic benefits; in some instances sustainability may create additional costs for our company.”

NWTC’s Energy Management team measures the amount of time required to pay back the initial investment in an energy savings project, Kox said, but “payback is not all that is considered.”

“There are some projects that we have done that have a longer payback. We do these projects because they are important to us in terms of how we live our sustainability values and how the project may be useful for our students in terms of exposure to new technologies.”

As KI CEO Dick Resch put it, “Sustainability is about striving for continual improvement every step of the way. To us, sustainability isn’t just about ‘going green.’ It’s a fundamental way of doing business – one that conserves natural resources and reduces waste, consumption and operating costs.”

From uwsuper.edu: “WITC and LSC students find home at UW-Superior” — The residence halls at UW-Superior aren’t just a home for UW-Superior students. Students from Lake Superior College and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College also call Crownhart, Curran-McNeill-Ostrander, and Ross/Hawkes Halls their “home away from home.”

“I chose to live in the res halls because I feel it is a cost effective way for college students to live,” says Cole Oksa, a LSC student living in Ostrander Hall. “You have a meal plan, a place to sleep, and in the time that you are here you make many new friends.”

Just down the street from the UW-Superior campus is Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College campus for Superior. Many WITC students chose to live on the UW-Superior campus due to the proximity to their college. “The residence halls are where I’ve met all of my friends since attending WITC,” says Garret Hodd, resident of Hawkes Hall.

In addition to having rooms, meal plans, and friends just like any other student, non-UWS students are also able to work out at the Marcovich Wellness Center and participate in intramural sports, just like any other resident.

“We build in the cost of the MWC membership into the non-UWS student rates in the halls so they, too, can workout and play at the MWC,” says Mickey Fitch, Assistant Director of Residence Life. “We want these students to be active residence hall students as well, and heard the feedback from other non-UWS students a few years ago that they wanted access to their resource, so we made it happen.”

For more information about living on campus, contact Residence Life. All housing contracts go through Live@UWS, an online contracting, roommate matching and room selection service directed by the student. Consult room rates online through the UW-Superior Residence Life webpage. Students can find more information on the Residence Life Facebook page as well.

From madison.com: “As trades rebound, demand for apprentices grows” — By Dennis Punzel – If Donald Trump hosted “Apprentice Wisconsin,” he’d have to change his catchphrase from “You’re fired” to “You’re hired.”

As the economy slowly pulls out of its funk, the dormant construction industry is starting to experience a revival. And as construction cranes sprout up in the skyline, the demand for skilled workers across the spectrum of construction trades also is ascending.

“The problem the last several years has been a shortage of work for contractors in the construction industry,” said Wayne Belanger of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin. “Now, it’s a shortage of workers. It’s critical.”

And when construction companies need skilled workers, they turn to the state’s venerable apprenticeship program to fill the void.

Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program, founded in 1911, was the first of its kind in the nation and led to the creation of the state’s technical school system.

“Wisconsin apprenticeship is still considered the leading model in the country,” said Jim Cook, apprenticeship manager at Madison Area Technical College. “In Wisconsin, everybody is at the table — employers, colleges, state government, labor organizations, employer associations.

“Apprenticeship here has survived all the economic and social upheavals of the last century. And because it’s done that, it’s going to survive for a long time.”

The most recent economic downturn, however, did take a toll on the system. As construction projects dried up, many firms had trouble finding jobs for their established journeyman workers and had no need to take on apprentices.

ABC’s apprentice numbers around the state plummeted from around 1,200 in 2006 to just a few hundred. The group sponsors apprenticeships in 12 trades, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).

“I don’t want to even think about how low it was,” Belanger said. “We’re back to 850 now. We’re on the rebound. It seems like there’s a pent-up demand, and people are putting projects together again.

“The trouble is that a lot of people in the trades have either retired or gone on to something else, and they’re not coming back. That leaves a huge void pretty much at all levels because they haven’t hired new people in the last five years.”

Statewide, the number of apprentices in all trades has dropped from 15,767 in 2001 to 9,793 in 2013, according to the state Department of Workforce Development Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS). In the construction trades, the numbers have fallen from 8,890 in 2001 to 4,843 last year.

Belanger said the recovery has yet to hit many parts of the state, but that Madison is booming and the Fox Valley and Milwaukee are showing signs of life.

“In Dane County, there’s going to be a construction boom this year,” said Cook, noting that apprenticeships are up about 10 percent with 600 in the program at MATC. “The drive right now for economic development is fever pitch. The only other time we’ve seen this was around World War II, where you had this incredible need and a skilled worker shortage.”

One of the biggest challenges is convincing young people to look into apprenticeships after being pointed toward the four-year college route most of their lives.

“We do a lot of outreach to schools around the area and have more success at some than others,” said Mike Pohlman, president of Nickles Electric. “Some schools don’t seem to want to point kids to the trades.

“We certainly don’t dissuade kids from going to college. We always tell them the trades are another option after you graduate. We’re open to getting a kid into our program that has a four-year college degree.”

One who took that route is Pohlman’s son, Kaleb. After graduating from Marshall High School, he studied electrical engineering at UW-Milwaukee for two years before transferring to UW-Madison, where he earned a degree in civil engineering in 2009.

But with the job market dried up, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue an electrical apprenticeship. He’s finishing up the fifth year of the program and just took the state exam with the hope of gaining journeyman status.

“They’re both gratifying,” Kaleb Pohlman, 28, said of his dual accomplishments. “When I got done with college I was like, ‘Wow, I did it.’ It was a long time and a lot of hard work and when I got done I felt great. Learning this and getting through this apprenticeship is just as much, if not more gratifying.

“I feel like I can do almost anything in the electrical trade. I can bend that conduit, I can run that wire, I can put that piece of switch gear up. You start feeling like you can do anything.”

Kaleb Pohlman’s goal is to use both parts of his education by working about five years in the field and then moving into project management.

“I went to school for a reason, and I did this for a reason,” he said. “I’ve put myself in a pretty unique situation that I think makes me a little more valuable.

“There’s a need for people who can do this stuff. In the next couple years as the baby boomers start retiring, the workforce is going to drop like crazy. There’s not as many people who do trades. That should bode well for people of my generation. If people want to do this, there should be a future in it.”

Apprenticeships, of course, are nothing new, as they date back to the middle ages. Ben Franklin was a printing apprentice; Henry Ford a machinist apprentice.

The state program offers apprenticeships in three broadly defined areas — construction trades, industrial/manufacturing trades and service trades.

Unlike their college-bound brethren, who frequently build up huge debts going to school, apprentices earn while they learn. Employer sponsors are required to pay their apprentices, starting at half the journeyman worker rate for that trade, with scheduled raises as they continue through the program.

Apprenticeships last three to five years with apprentices spending about 90 percent of the time on the job and 10 percent in the classroom. In addition to paying apprentices, many sponsors will also pick up all or part of the costs of tuition and books for the classroom part of the deal.

Upon completion of the apprenticeship and any licensing requirements, the apprentice receives a state certificate and a journeyman license and goes to work for the sponsoring firm. The construction trades tend to pay the highest, with the base pay for a construction worker at just under $33 per hour.

“It’s a great program,” said Greg Jones, CEO of Dave Jones Inc. “As a plumber, after a five-year program you can be making $70,000 a year with no student debt.”

Jones, 32, completed his apprenticeship in 2004. His father, Dave Jones, also went through the apprenticeship program and founded the company in 1977. The company now has 220 employees and 34 apprentices.

Phil Klahn, 23, got a head start on the five-year apprenticeship he is now finishing up when he started working at Dave Jones Plumbing part-time through a school-work program at Oregon High School.

“The trades were something I was always looking into,” Klahn said. “I wanted to work with my hands. I didn’t really think I could sit behind a desk my entire life.”

Klahn said that, like most high school graduates, he felt the pressure to go to college, but the work-study program opened his eyes to other options. And unlike many of his former classmates, he’s finishing his education with no student loans.

“I was lucky because I knew right away this was what I wanted to do,” said Klahn, who hopes to someday become a project manager or field superintendent. “Everybody thinks that plumbing is backed-up sewers and leaky faucets and leaky pipes. There is a service end to it, but right now I’m working on a 12-story apartment building in downtown Madison. There’s a lot more to it than people understand.”

Klahn’s advice to young people pondering their future?

“I just say keep your mind open to the apprenticeship program,” he said. “It might not be for everybody, but I tell people to at least look into it.”

Mike Pohlman of Nickles Electric thinks that message is spreading, and he emphasizes that the trades are actively recruiting a diverse workforce.

“This whole industry is changing,” said Pohlman, who began his apprenticeship in 1979 and rose through the ranks to become company president. “People are understanding that the trades are a pretty good option these days.

“Our city’s going to keep growing, and we’re going to need people to build it.”

From riverfallsjournal.com: “For tech college students, simulation lab brings medical reality” — When nursing students at Chippewa Valley Technical College in River Falls work on a training scenario with one of the school’s high-tech simulation mannequins, they can rely only on their own knowledge and instincts.

There’s no glancing over at an instructor in search of a nod of approval for a chosen course of action.

The instructor watches from a separate room, behind glass that students cannot see through. She listens, observes, and controls the simulator to react accordingly to what the students do — good or bad.

“This is more realistic than it was before,” said student Anna Hinde, originally from Barron. “We are able to have some hands-on, real-life experiences.”

Added Colin McConville of Hudson: “We have a lot more space, there are more mannequins, and we’ve got a new teaching lab.”

Use of computerized simulation mannequins — that breathe, react, and have vital signs like real patients — have been part of the CVTC Nursing program at River Falls for years. However, the new simulation lab, which opened in January, seems to be a vast improvement.

“Our environment here is more representative of an actual hospital room,” said Simulation Technician Cynthia Anderson, registered nurse. “The old lab was about half the size of one room in the new lab, and had a noisy air compressor in the room to run the mannequins. Our air compressor is now in another room.”

The mannequins were used to be placed on something like old hospital gurneys. Now there are real hospital beds for the mannequins and sometimes live people playing patients.

“We’re not tripping on cords anymore,” said Bethany Geske, a nursing student who lives in Menomonie, in reference to power cords to the equipment that used to be taped down but are now under the floor.

The lighting is far better, and includes a large window to provide natural light, but set high enough to prevent outside distractions and watchers.

Even small details, like the addition of an in-lab telephone, are important. Students sometimes have to call a doctor or pharmacist (played by an instructor) from the simulator bedside.

“They get the experience of calling the physician, and learning how to speak with the physician,” said Anderson, a registered nurse since 1990 with years of experience at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn.

An adjacent Learning Resource Center (LRC) for the nursing program is also an important addition.

The center is equipped with smaller artificial body parts like arms, hands and heads. Students practice skills such as making injections and inserting intravenous needles.

For CVTC Nursing students, doing homework involves more than reading a textbook.

“I’ve used it on occasion to practice skills like suctions and inserting catheters,” McConville said.

Another major addition to the program this term is “Noel,” a birth mother simulator. The mannequin actually simulates the birth of a little rubber baby newborn, with realistic vital signs and potential problems for the mother.

“The baby can be born breach, with a stuck shoulder, or with respiratory difficulty,” Anderson said, mentioning a few of the complications.

A newborn infant simulator, separate from the rubber birth baby, is also new. It shows vital signs and reacts like the adult models.

A newborn baby can have a bluish hue, which is normal and soon fades. The simulator is sophisticated enough for instructors to prolong the bluish tint and observe when students notice it as a matter of concern.

“We didn’t have the baby mannequin before this year,” said Natalie Miranda, a student from Lakeland, Minn. “We would have to drive to Eau Claire to do that.”

From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC E-Seed entrepreneurship program gains national attention” — Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center has taken a bit of its own advice when it comes to helping entrepreneurs get started.

The Venture Center’s E-Seed course has helped entrepreneurs like Josh Beck get the business training and support they needed to turn their ideas into viable, growing enterprises.

Beck, who founded his 3-D printing business Beck Prototypes in May, said E-Seed’s 12-week entrepreneurship course has already helped him plan for slow, measured growth and careful planning as he gets started.

“I’m starting nice and slow, I’m getting some customers now and I’m going through the motions. Now, it’s about time to start some marketing and start trying to generate more revenue,” Beck said. “I wouldn’t have done this without E-Seed. E-Seed gives you the tools and shows you the door, but you have to learn from what they show you and walk through those doors when the opportunity arises.”

In the 13-plus years since it was founded, the Venture Center’s entrepreneur-education programs like E-Seed and, its bigger sister, the Pro-Seed business-model development program for established businesses, have helped entrepreneurs start 320 businesses that presently employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

The success of courses like E-Seed and Pro-Seed have also earned the Venture Center one of seven $20,000 grants from Sam’s Club and the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship to help small, Main Street businesses reach the next level of sales.

Now, E-Seed itself has become the brand with an opportunity to grow and the Venture Center is the entrepreneur.

Amy Pietsch, the center’s director, said it has started to license the E-Seed curriculum and program to other community colleges, technical colleges and economic development agencies around the country as a way to foster more entrepreneurship and generate revenue for the center, which does not receive taxpayer dollars from FVTC.

Organizations can buy a license to offer the 12-week course to local business owners and entrepreneurs, but Pietsch said those groups are encouraged to share any improvements and innovations they make so as to improve the product.

“The one thing we knew about the entrepreneurship environment was we would be the little player in a big space. We had to be open to a lot of people coming back to us with ideas to make it better,” Pietsch said. “We do apply what we learn and teach here. We’re not making it up.”

The early response has been good. To date, FVTC spokesman Chris Jossart said, three community colleges in the Midwest and one entrepreneurial hub have already bought licenses to use E-Seed.

“It’s developed into such a proven product that’s simple yet personal,” Jossart said. “It’s always fresh, it’s always real and it makes very complex issues very simple.”

In addition, FVTC has reduced the cost of E-Seed by almost 50 percent, to $750, to make it more affordable for entrepreneurs to enroll.

Tina Schuelke said E-Seed has remained a key component in her small-business support network since she founded Change Management Communications Center last year. The training she got through E-Seed and the support of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Small Business Development Center recently helped her win a $5,000 prize in the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Competition.

“Once I got started with E-Seed, I realized all my attempts at business plans — and I thought I had a good one going into it — were weak. This gave me a really strong start,” Schuelke said. “This is my first business launch. Now that I have those courses as a foundation, I’m already thinking about other businesses I want to start or become a part of.”

From postcrescent.com: “Algoma Wolf Tech takes real life into the classroom” — ALGOMA — Manufacturing has a home in Algoma. Precision Machine, Olson Fabrication, Algoma Hardwoods and WS Packaging Group are among companies that make things in the Kewaunee County community.

So, too, is Algoma Wolf Tech, a relatively new manufacturing company housed in the tech ed classrooms of Algoma High School.

“I pretty strongly believe that kids have to make something of substance to understand the process that goes into things,” said Nick Cochart, principal of the school since 2011 and godfather of Wolf Tech.

Eleva-Strum School District’s Cardinal Manufacturing south of Eau Claire, which started in 2007, established the model for in-school manufacturing. Wolf Tech followed suit, and Bay Link Manufacturing, a creation of the Green Bay School District, will launch in the fall.

Other schools are considering similar programs, said Mark Weber, dean of Trades & Engineering Technologies at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, which is assisting many schools in establishing manufacturing-related programs.

Wolf Tech is not a seat-of-the-pants, we’ve got a saw and a few welders affair. Its equipment includes two CNC milling machines, a CNC wood router, state-of-the-art table saws and, later this month, a CNC lathe.

“We are not making widgets. We are making stuff in industry that people are using every day,” Cochart said.

Algoma School District invested more than $250,000 in Wolf Tech and tech ed, but it’s not alone in supporting the program. The CNC metal lathe is courtesy of NWTC. Algoma, which is a certified Haas Automation Inc. technical training center, will provide its facilities for public classes in CNC training and in return get the $70,000 lathe free of charge.

“Those machines have opened the door to so many things,” Cochart said.

Working with their hands

Sophomore Austin Stoller, 15, is hoping the lathe will open the door to a career as a gunsmith. He’s also fond of welding.

“I like working with my hands and making stuff. I don’t like sitting in a classroom all day,” Stoller said. “It’s just not my thing.”

Stoller is the kind of student that the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance and, increasingly, educators are trying to accommodate by providing options to a four-year college degree.

“There are so many opportunities for kids now,” Cochart said. “If they just follow their passion, there’s not just good jobs, there’s great jobs.”

Tech ed instructors Matt Abel and Russ Nockerts can teach students how to operate the machines, but that’s not really the point.

“I try to teach kids useful employability skills,” Abel said. “It’s not running a machine. It’s how is this going to affect the consumer? How’s this going to affect people down the chain?”

That’s an approach seconded and abetted by Jamie Spitzer, owner of Precision Machine, to say nothing of most manufacturing employers. It’s the so-called soft skills — problem solving, communications, teamwork, high-quality work — that employers are looking for.

“We are actually asking you to contribute. We are asking you to use your mind more and your back less,” Spitzer said. “It’s crazy how you can hire someone for their hard skills, but most likely fire them for their soft skills.”

Algoma High School and Precision Machine were each honored last fall during N.E.W. Manufacturing Alliance’s Excellence in Manufacturing/K-12 Partnership Awards. The school and the company work closely. The goal is to produce employable manufacturing workers, of course, but it’s also about students’ aspirations.

“I was one of those kids at one time,” Spitzer said. “Not everyone wants to go to a four-year school and it’s a great thing when kids can do things with their hands.”

Work has to be perfect

Precision Machine serves clients in the aerospace and timber industries, among others, and has contracted Wolf Tech for parts. They are basic pieces, but require a professional level of quality. If the product doesn’t measure up, someone from Precision Machine makes the trek around the block to the high school to explain why.

“It’s got to be perfect,” Nockerts said.

The students have to deal directly with customers, which Cochart said provides a learning moment, again, focused on those soft skills.

Abel and Nockerts are nontraditional teachers in that they have business backgrounds. Able has a degree in construction management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“They have to have skills sets that can cut across multiple disciplines,” Cochart said. “I think they have some of the most engaging classroom activities.”

About 70 of Algoma’s 250 students are in tech ed classes. Of those, 15 are in Wolf Tech, which requires after-school participation.

“My core group are sophomores right now. From that group, it’s grown,” Able said. “They talk to their friends; ‘Hey, this is cool stuff.’ I have kids who just want to be down here. They don’t even have a class.”

Students ‘actually learning’

Cochart said what they are doing requires a different approach to teaching. Abel said it may seem like chaos at times, though it’s not.

“Each student is on a different path,” Abel said. “Everybody is working at their own speed, trying something out and actually learning.”

Other teachers are getting involved as well, Abel said.

“Our core teachers are realizing how it relates and, for example, bringing the math into here,” he said. “In machining, we use a lot of trigonometry and some students can’t even pass algebra. They don’t even know they are doing it.”

Wolf Tech is one or two customers away from being self-sustaining, Cochart said.

Among its customers is Algoma Long-Term Care nursing home, for which it is providing new cabinets. Junior Kevin Sperber, 17, designed them and CTI Hospitality of Algoma manufactured the pieces.

“This is actually going to be used by people every day,” Sperber said, explaining what sets the project apart from traditional “shop.”

Sperber is interested in design or engineering as a career. He expects to attend NWTC, but is undecided about whether to get a four-year degree.

“I was a little interested my freshman year. I had no idea what I was going to go into, then I got interested in all of this,” he said.

There are immediate benefits, including college credits while still in high school.

“For the past two years, Precision Machine pretty much offered jobs to anyone on the machining side,” Able said.

The goal is for Wolf Tech to be a completely student-run business, from front office to factory floor. Getting students to run the machines has been the easy part, so far, but manufacturing includes jobs well beyond the factory floor. Abel said Wolf Tech needs accountants, salespeople and more.

“When we started this, I said we are four years out from hitting full stride,” Cochart said. “Some of our most talented kids are freshmen and sophomores. I’d love to see a kid start his own business within a business. I think it’s right there.”

From stevenspointjournal.com: “Central Wisconsin prepares for baby boomer retirements” — As the first baby boomers begin to retire, central Wisconsin health care providers, employers and educators are bracing for what some have termed the “silver tsunami.”

Wisconsin is expected to face worker shortages during the next 20 years as birth rates drop and older adults retire, according to a news release issued Thursday by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Statewide, 14.4 percent of the population is older than 65, compared to 13.7 percent of the national population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2012. By 2030, 24 percent of the state’s population will be older than 65, said Tom Walsh, state Department of Workforce Development labor market economist for north central Wisconsin.

Currently in Wood, Portage and Marathon counties, 52 percent of the population is working age, defined as 25 to 54 years old by WISTAX, but that number will drop to 44.4 percent by 2030, Walsh said. He said central Wisconsin has a slightly older population than the rest of the state, but he expected local workforce trends to closely follow state trends.

“One of the big sectors that will be impacted is health care,” Walsh said. Not only will many health care workers be retiring, but retirees also will require more health care services as they continue to age, he said.

“Certainly, throughout our service area, we have fewer workers for every person moving into Medicare,” said Dr. Brian Ewert, Marshfield Clinic president.

“It’s a very transformative time in medicine compared to the 1950s, where … more people (were) getting insured under their employers, and there were more workers and a very small group of retirees,” he said.

Ewert said retirees will consume more health care resources in the coming years, while at the same time, providers are being charged with reducing health care costs.

One model that health care providers have found that benefits patients and saves resources is the patient-centered medical home, in which patients are assigned a primary care team consisting of a physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurse and medical assistant.

The patient-centered medical home, along with other nurse-coordinated services like nurse lines, reduce hospital admissions and re-admissions and allow physicians to spend more time on tasks that require a higher level of licensure, Ewert said.

The model of care allows hospitals to do more with fewer resources, a trend Walsh said he has seen in many other industries.

To address possible physician shortages, Marshfield Clinic has partnered with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine to offer the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine program, or WARM, which allows third- and fourth-year medical students to complete their clinical training at Marshfield Clinic sites with the goal of encouraging students to practice medicine in rural areas of the state.

The WARM program last year included six medical students, two of whom chose to complete their medical training at Marshfield Clinic residency programs. This year, 10 students are participating in the WARM program, Ewert said.

Connie Willfahrt, vice president of academic affairs at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, said employers in the manufacturing, transportation and information technology industries have expressed a need for more skilled workers and fear of worker shortages in the future, due in part to the number of expected retirements.

Willfahrt said representatives from the college share information about employer needs at community job fairs, but students are encouraged to develop skills and knowledge in their areas of interest that will allow them to be competitive in the workforce.

Still, MSTC has added sections and expanded its automotive technician, diesel mechanic and welding programs due to employer demand.

“Our mission is to work closely with the employers we serve … to really understand what current and future training looks like to them and how we can align our programs and coursework to prepare graduates to be ready for those occupations,” she said.

“We can’t afford to let high school graduates languish without workforce training or higher education,” WISTAX president Todd Berry said in Thursday’s news release.

Besides training workers to fill open positions, MSTC trains individuals already in the workforce so they’re prepared for promotions or new responsibilities in their existing roles.

“We’re really looking to plant the seed of lifelong learning,” Willfahrt said. “You’re probably not going to have the same position for the rest of your life, and if you are, it’s going to be using different tools and different technology.”

From starjournalnow.com: “Nicolet College, Rhinelander Fire Department relish training relationship” — An employee at the Experia Paper Mill in Rhinelander crawls through the small opening barely large enough to fit one person and enters one of the massive boilers at the mill for routine maintenance.

But it turns out to be anything but routine as due to the unequal footing of tons of ash and debris, his foot slips and he breaks his leg.

Those on the outside are unable to reach the man in the dusty, poorly ventilated space so the call goes out for help. The Mill’s Rapid Response Team is on the scene and the Rhinelander Fire Department is on the way. In minutes, the man is being looked after by emergency personnel and not long after the call went out, he is in a Rhinelander Fire Department transport on his way to the hospital.

And all along, Mark England is standing by making notes, watching the whole thing unfold.

That was the scenario for a recent joint training between Experia, the Rhinelander Fire Department and Nicolet College, where England works as a safety and health specialist and conducts these types of trainings around the college’s district.

“We do these trainings all over the northern part of the state,” England said. “We go everywhere in the Nicolet College district.”

England said there is more involved than just the hands on experience to these training runs.

“What we typically do is take a look at the regulations, do a refresher course and a PowerPoint,” he said. “It is about 16 hours of training and classroom time.”

While the training may be lengthy, to be able to rely on the college to aid in training is something valuable to Rhinelander Fire Chief Terry Williams.

“It’s a great partnership to have,” Williams said. “They help us out tremendously. “Without their help we could not make our training budget stretch as far as we do.”

And that budget is under a lot of pressure as a fire department like Rhinelander’s has to undergo a lot of training during the course of the year.

“We have guys doing something every month,” Williams said. “We try to do the training on shift if possible. But some guys have to go to training on their own and then come back and teach the rest of us.”

Williams said they have five certified instructors on staff and five certified EMT instructors.

But it is trainings like the one recently at Experia where the partnership with Nicolet comes into play and Williams said having different eyes on a situation helps the learning process.

“There are always different ways to do things,” he said. “Hopefully they get easier over time. We definitely want to keep updating our skills.”

For England and the college, working with a professional fire fighting crew in Rhinelander helps their program as well.

“We are always learning new things when we go through a training,” England said. “I am relatively new to this position to listen to these guys with so much experience and to listen to what they are seeing as they go through the training is valuable.”

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Column: Many manufacturing jobs on display this week in Wisconsin” — My centerpiece story on this page talks about attracting and training manufacturing workers, who are in demand throughout Northeastern Wisconsin.

As evidence of the demand, Fox Valley Technical College and the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance are hosting job fairs this week seeking hundreds of workers.

Fox Valley Tech’s Manufacturing Job Fair on Tuesday had no trouble filling its available space with employers, and then some. About 70 companies, including a number from the Green Bay area, signed up for the event to recruit workers in applied engineering, electro-mechanical technology, machine tools, industrial welding, wind-energy technology, wood manufacturing technology and many more. After filling its allotted space, the college designated hallways for additional employer booths.

The event will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday on the FVTC campus at 1825 N. Bluemound Drive, Grand Chute.

The marine alliance has fewer companies, but is recruiting for more than 300 positions during its fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday in the Corporate Conference Center at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

Bay Shipbuilding of Sturgeon Bay, Marinette Marine, Marquis Yachts of Pulaski and Palmer Johnson Yachts of Sturgeon Bay will be offering jobs in quality control, naval architecture, drafting, electrical, engineering, pipefitting, machining, welding and more.

In each case, potential applicants should bring a resume if they have one and some identification.

From jsonline.com: “Home improvement show serves as teaching tool” —For the 8th consecutive year, the Interior Design Contest between students from local colleges is a prominent feature of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show.

Sponsored by Nehmey Construction, the contest pits students from Gateway Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Mount Mary University and Waukesha County Technical College in a competition to design and construct a 12-foot-by-12-foot room display with a 2014 theme of “Bring the Outside In.”

The participating schools, who will each receive $1,000 for the school’s interior design program from the Milwaukee/NARI Foundation, created and built the following designs:

  • Gateway Technical College: A dining room uses elements inspired by the outdoors with warm, neutral tones and earthy prints that creates a classic and informal space. A unique room selection is a dining table created from a reclaimed section of fence that was painted and distressed. The walls have salvaged window shutters, exterior lanterns and a mirrored window, while birdcages function as artistic light fixtures.
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC): A child’s playroom has an urban concept of the outdoors, utilizing bold colors and kid-friendly furniture selections.
  • Mount Mary University: A rustic and feminine-style home den includes natural wood textures combined with light and airy colors. This design also focuses on the use of sustainable and reclaimed products.
  • Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC): A pergola includes rockers, a table and chairs, a screen door and siding.

Gateway, participating for the 4th consecutive year and the 2013 contest winner, has six students that are part of its team. “Students in last fall’s Residential Design Studio course competed against each other to determine the space design,” said Rita Serpe, interior design instructor at Gateway. “Once design was selected, the Commercial Design Studio students work together to install and complete the display.”

MATC returned to the competition after a one-year absence, as six student members of the American Society of Interior Design were actively involved in the design process, with several other students assisting in the procurement of materials and products plus construction. “The work, from concept development through build out and show staffing, is accomplished on a volunteer basis,” said Mary Walgren, MATC interior design instructor. “Students are able to use classroom facilities, equipment, and resources to plan and meet on the design. In addition, any open lab time can be used toward their work on the project.”

At Mount Mary, the 14 students that are part of the competition are from two classes. “The freshmen class focused on project design and development, while the sophomore/junior class worked on project management skills and mentored the freshmen in the design development process,” said Leona Knobloch-Nelson, associate professor and Interior Design Student Chapter faculty advisor. “The students learn collaboration and team participation.”

WCTC has been part of the contest since its inception. This year, eight students that are members of the school’s Interior Design Club have worked on the plan. “Typically we meet over the holiday break to come up with the final plan and start working on construction,” said Brooks Eberlein, WCTC interior design instructor and club advisor. “The week prior to the show is a hustle to get everything ready for a smooth installation, and the week of the show are long hours of prepping the space and getting everything in its proper place.”

The instructors see a variety of benefits for the students, including the opportunity to network with other students, connecting with the business community for resources, and project and time management skills.

“This type of hands-on projects gives students a practical experience that simply cannot be found in a textbook or a classroom,” Walgren said. “They get real-world exposure to deadlines and are able to grow their network of professionals and vendors as they work through the product procurement process. Time management, collaborative design and team projects are standard practice for our industry and this experience exposes students to those concepts.”

“The students have fun because they get the gratification of seeing the completion of their design,” Knobloch-Nelson said.

Serpe explained that students benefit from multitasking schoolwork along with a real-world project. “Plus, they need to be creative working with a small budget,” she said.

“For many, this is a first-time hands-on experience that involves carpentry and construction,” Eberlein said. “These experiences enrich learning and also give students inside knowledge that they may share with clients at a later time. Not only do students get hands-on experience, they take great pride in their efforts. Students have also been able to network with NARI exhibitors. In some cases, this networking has led to internships and jobs. The overall experience is win-win.”

Show attendees have had the opportunity to vote on their favorite room design. The winning school will be announced after votes are tabulated at the conclusion of the show, and the school will receive a plaque.

Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16. Admission is $8 at the door. Tickets for those 60 and older are $5. Children 16 and younger and all military personnel with a military photo ID card are admitted free.

From leadertelegram.com: “Candidate tours tech: Democrat running for governor discusses worker education, jobs” — By Joe Knight Leader-Telegram staff – Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Thursday she supports a proposal by her opponent, Gov. Scott Walker, to spend $35 million to help the state’s technical colleges provide additional training for high-demand jobs.

She also supports the governor’s initiative to find work for people with developmental disabilities.

However, Burke said the proposal would require future funding for technical colleges to keep those efforts ongoing.

Burke spoke briefly with reporters during a tour of high-tech industrial programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Gateway Campus. She criticized Walker for cutting $71 million from technical colleges in the first budget he oversaw as governor “just at the time when our technical colleges needed a boost.”

At the time Walker said budget cuts were needed because of a $3 billion state budget shortfall.

Burke said the types of high-tech manufacturing skills being taught at CVTC would help the middle class and would help grow the state’s economy. She spent time speaking with CVTC students, asking them about their career aspirations.

Jamie Rasmussen, a 35-year-old CVTC welding student, said more funding for CVTC programs will help more of them receive the training they need to find jobs.

Asked whether the process she observed Thursday could help build bicycles, Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive and a former commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said she wasn’t sure but noted Trek works closely with technical colleges in southern Wisconsin.

From tomahjournal.com: “The School Bell: Filling the skills gap — a Tomah tradition” —February is Career and Technical Education Month, and we have been hearing a consistent message from many important individuals about the value of career and technical education for our students, the future workforce, and our economy.

In Gov. Walker’s State of the State address he talked about the skills gap which exists in Wisconsin and the employment needs which exist in skilled trades, manufacturing, and construction. Governor Walker acknowledged that “we need enough skilled workers ready to fill jobs open today — as well as those that will be open tomorrow, and in the days to come.”

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, also commented on the need for real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. While in Wisconsin visiting a General Electric engine factory near Milwaukee, President Obama stressed the importance of having job-training programs that work. He also recognized that a four-year degree is not needed for all good jobs today, but those good jobs do require specialized training.

Our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Evers, has also stressed the importance of preparing our students to be “college and career ready” through his Agenda 2017. The Department of Public Instruction has been working to advance education reforms to ensure every child graduates ready for further education and the workplace. It appears this is common ground on which we all agree — it is important for our young people to develop skills while still in high school which will allow them to either enter the workforce after their graduation or continue with their schooling.

The Tomah School District has a strong tradition of providing instruction to interested high school students in the area of construction, engineering, and industrial technology. As a matter of fact, Evers, purchased and lived in a house that was built by high school students in the building trades class when he was the Tomah High School principal.

During the THS Success Showcase held on Jan. 16, I spent time in the “shop” classrooms to see the work in which students were engaged. Students were welding, cutting and bending metal, programming a plasma cutter and practicing skills needed in the construction trades. The Technology Education Department at THS provides opportunities for students to gain real-world hands-on experience. Students can learn about engineering robots and mapping digital electronic circuits through Project Lead the Way classes. Through industrial technology classes, they can become competent with power tools, experienced in rough and finished interior and exterior carpentry and trained in advanced machine tool skills, oxyacetylene welding and horizontal and vertical over-head welding.

We also value the partnerships developed with the Construction Professionals Association and AGC of Wisconsin, both of which have provided financial resources and materials for our programs at THS.

All of our Career and Technical Education areas, which include business, family and consumer science, agriculture and technology and engineering education, provide meaningful school-to-work opportunities for our students. Strong articulation exists between Tomah High School, Western Technical College and the Milwaukee School of Engineering in our CTE subject areas. Students enrolled in these courses have opportunities to earn college credit while at Tomah High School. This creates a seamless transition from high school to the post-secondary educational level and into the workplace. We are working on having these instructional experiences enable our students to receive state-approved skill certificates so that our local businesses and industry will have qualified entry-level employees. In recent years advisory councils have been developed in which our local construction, engineering, agriculture, and business leaders meet with school personnel to share their expertise and to provide insights into program improvements. Students at THS have the ability to develop specialized skills that will make them employable in a number of businesses/industries, as well as prepared for pursuing post-secondary education. Options exist, opportunities await and openings in the workplace can be filled by Tomah High School graduates. Filling the skills gap is a Tomah tradition.

If you have any questions or comments about the information and opinions expressed in this edition of The School Bell, please contact Cindy Zahrte, District Administrator, at cindyz@tomah.k12.wi.us or 374-7002.

Cindy Zahrte is superintendent of the Tomah School District.

 

From jsonline.com: “Eaton expanding, upgrading its Cooper Power Systems plants in Waukesha” — Every time someone turns on a light or fires up their office computer, there’s a good chance that a Cooper Power Systems electrical transformer or another of the company’s products was part of the process.

Since 2012, Cooper has been part of Eaton Corp., a power management company with $22 billion in sales in 2013.

Eaton, based in Dublin, Ireland, has 102,000 employees and sells products in more than 175 countries. This week, the company said it was expanding and upgrading its Cooper Power Systems plants in Waukesha that make electrical equipment including power transformers and voltage regulators.

The $54 million project will create up to 200 jobs over the next two years, according to Eaton, as the company expands its Badger Drive plant and upgrades its North St. and Lincoln Ave. plants.

“The reason we are investing in the expansion in our facilities is to help meet the growing demand we are seeing, not only from our utility customers, but also from the commercial and industrial customer base,” said Clayton Tychkowsky, president of the Cooper Power Systems division.

Eaton has a wide range of products including truck transmissions, aircraft fuel systems and electrical systems.

Last week, the company said its fourth-quarter revenue rose 28%, boosted by higher demand for electrical products and systems.

Electrical product sales jumped 57% to $1.8 billion in the recent quarter ended Dec. 31.

Demand picked up in multiple areas including data processing centers, commercial construction and the oil and gas industry.

“One thing all those fields have in common is they require products to help transmit power to a usable point in their electrical system,” Tychkowsky said.

Eaton also stands to benefit from an increase in residential construction because the utility companies that provide power to homes use Cooper products.

“We see long-term potential growth for the products we manufacture here, which is why we feel this is a good investment,” Tychkowsky said about the plant expansion and upgrades.

Last April, Eaton announced it was cutting nearly two-thirds of its 260 jobs in Pewaukee.

The reductions included 130 production and 33 salaried positions as the company said it was moving molded rubber manufacturing from Pewaukee to a plant in Querétaro, Mexico, this year.

The job cuts were unrelated to the Waukesha plants, and the Pewaukee employees will get first preference in the Waukesha hiring, according to Eaton.

As part of the hiring, the company has partnered with Waukesha County Technical College to provide job training.

“We are taking a proactive approach as opposed to sitting back and waiting for talent to be available for us,” Tychkowsky said.

The expansion on Badger Drive will include 55,000 square feet of new manufacturing space.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is providing up to $1.36 million in tax credits for the expansion and plant upgrades, which are tied to the new jobs.

“Retention of sound businesses like this is something we all need to pay attention to. There are other opportunities in the nation for a company like Eaton to move out of state,” said Reed Hall, WEDC secretary and chief executive officer.

Wisconsin also benefits from the electrical products, according to Hall.

“Safe, reliable electrical power is critical to growth. It’s like broadband. There are a couple of things businesses absolutely have to have to consider expanding in our state,” Hall said.

From chippewa.com: “New CVTC simulation lab boosts medical realism” — When nursing students at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC’s) River Falls campus are working on a training scenario with one of the college’s high-tech simulation mannequins, they can rely only on their own knowledge and instincts. There’s no glancing over at an instructor in search of a nod of approval for a chosen course of action.

The instructor is watching from a separate room, behind glass that students cannot see through. She listens, observes and controls the simulator to react accordingly to what the students do — good or bad.

“This is more realistic than it was before,” said student Anna Hinde, originally from Barron. “We are able to have some hands-on, real-life experiences.”

“We have a lot more space, there are more mannequins, and we’ve got a new teaching lab,” added Colin McConville of Hudson.

Use of computerized simulation mannequins — which breathe, react, and have vital signs like real patients — has been part of the CVTC Nursing program at River Falls for years. However, the new simulation lab that opened in January is a vast improvement over the previous facility.

“Our environment here is more representative of an actual hospital room,” said Simulation Technician Cynthia Anderson, R.N. “The old lab was about half the size of one room in the new lab and had a noisy air compressor in the room to run the mannequins. Our air compressor is now in another room.”

The mannequins were previously placed on something like old hospital gurneys. Now there are real hospital beds for the mannequins and sometimes live people playing patients.

“We’re not tripping on cords anymore,” said Bethany Geske, a Nursing student who lives in Menomonie, in reference to the power cords to the equipment that used to be taped down and are now under the floor.

The lighting is far better and includes a large window to provide natural light, but set high enough to prevent outside distractions and watchers.

Even small details, like the addition of an in-lab telephone, are important. Students sometimes have to call a doctor or pharmacist (played by an instructor) from the simulator bedside. “They get the experience of calling the physician, and learning how to speak with the physician,” said Anderson, an RN since 1990 with years of experience at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn.

An adjacent Learning Resource Center (LRC) for the Nursing program is also an important addition. The center is equipped with smaller artificial body parts like arms, hands and heads. Students practice skills such as making injections and inserting intravenous needles. For CVTC Nursing students, doing homework involves more reading a textbook.

“I’ve used it on occasion to practice skills like suctions and inserting catheters,” McConville said.

Mother and child

Another major addition to the program this term is “Noel,” a birth mother simulator. The mannequin actually simulates the birth of a little rubber baby newborn, with realistic vital signs and potential problems for the mother.

“The baby can be born breach, with a stuck shoulder, or with respiratory difficulty,” Anderson said, mentioning just some of the complications.

A newborn infant simulator, separate from the rubber birth baby, is also new. It shows vital signs and reacts like the adult models. A newborn baby can have a bluish hue, which is normal and soon fades. The simulator is sophisticated enough for instructors to prolong the bluish tint and observe when students notice it as a matter of concern.

“We didn’t have the baby mannequin before this year,” said Natalie Miranda, a student from Lakeland, Minn. “We would have to drive to Eau Claire to do that.”

Sometimes a birth mother and baby were brought from Eau Claire, but transportation and set-up are cumbersome, Anderson said.

Nursing students go out into the field to do “clinical” studies at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, but the simulation lab work is an essential part of the training.

“It allows them to experience things differently,” said Jennifer Buekema, a CVTC Nursing instructor. “In a clinical situation, we of course don’t let students harm patients. Here, we can let the students make mistakes in the lab.”

“They set up scenarios that we may not see in the real-life clinical settings, but can see later in our professional lives,” said Miranda.

The instructor from the observation room can demonstrate with the mannequin the consequences, through a sudden change in vital signs, evidence of pain, and even a “code blue” cardiac arrest.

“A couple of weeks ago, we were in a code blue, when we had to do CPR,” Geske said.

The students say this kind of hands-on experience is one of the reasons they chose to attend CVTC. It allows them to be ready to enter the workforce right away, even if their plans include further education.

Geske, McConville and Hinde plan on getting nursing jobs after their May graduation, but going back to school to seek four-year or advanced degrees gaining experience as they complete their education.

From chippewa.com: “CVTC hosts financial aid application assistance session” — Eau Claire – Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) will be hosting a College Goal Wisconsin event Sunday, Feb. 23, to assist students with financial aid for enrollment in any two-or four-year college in the next academic year. The event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Casper Conference Center in the Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire. Students who attend have a chance to win scholarships.

College Goal Wisconsin is a national event that provides free information and assistance to families who are filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the federally required form for students seeking financial aid, such as grants and loans. Completing the FAFSA is the first and most important step in qualifying for aid.

Volunteers from area colleges and universities will help students complete the application process. In addition to staff from CVTC, volunteers from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, Globe University, and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will assist.

Students should attend with a parent or guardian, if possible. A list of materials, including tax returns and financial records, that families should bring can be found at http://www.collegegoalwi.org. Independent students need only bring their own financial information.

The CVTC College Goal Wisconsin event is one of 29 to be held throughout the state Feb. 22-23 and Feb. 26. Students who submit or save a FAFSA and complete a survey at the event will be entered into a statewide drawing for scholarships ranging from $250 to $1,000.

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