High school students get glimpse of future at BTC

May 1, 2014

From hngnews.com: “A glimpse at their future?” — By Brandon Felvor – Blackhawk Technical College’s (BTC) Advanced Manufacturing Training Center is planned to open in August, but more than 200 high school students got a sneak peak of the facilities on April 23.

Students from Edgerton High School and Milton High School spent last Wednesday touring Blackhawk’s Central Campus in Janesville and the new 105,000-square-foot Milton location.

At the Janesville campus, students had the chance to learn about the eight different programs that will be offered at the new campus first-hand. According to Marketing and Communications Manager Gary Kohn, the Milton site will open in two phases. The industrial maintenance, welding and computer numeric control (CNC) programs will be ready for the fall semester of the 2014-2015 school year and the second phase of the campus will completed in the summer of 2015.

MHS Principal Jeremy Bilhorn said he had been talking with representatives from BTC for the last few months about opportunities for the students. He said it’s important for the kids to see what is happening just a few blocks from their school.

“One of the things we want to see our students do is start a program after high school and finish it,” Bilhorn said. “Our vision is to make sure kids are college and career ready. Part of our mission to this community is to take their kids and make sure they are ready for the next phase of life.”

To that end, the MHS staff has been working with BTC to design some dual-enrollment classes. Amy Kenyon, MHS’ school-to-work/youth apprenticeship coordinator, said they already work with BTC through its nursing program and hopes a similar arrangement can be made for tech ed classes.

Ideally, students in those courses would earn both MHS and BTC credits. Bilhorn said he hopes students and teachers alike will benefit from their proximity to the campus. He said there is a shortage of tech-ed teachers and students heard something similar from BTC instructors. They said in certain fields, there are more jobs available than there are people who are qualified to fill them.

“It’s hard to find tech-ed teachers. People are not going into that field to teach,” Bilhorn said. “(BTC can) keep our staff abreast with the latest technology, and help us in retaining staff.”

New MHS tech-ed teacher Will Stamper had the chance to tour BTC with the students. He has been at the school for about a month, and he said he was also excited about the prospect of having dual-enrollment classes.

“(Going to BTC would be) an excellent experience for me as a teacher because I can go out and get training and bring that back to the school,” Stamper said. “(Hopefully,) having a tech school in our backyard will save parents money and will promote our programs.”

While the graduating senior class will not have the chance to benefit from those programs, students can still enroll at BTC when it opens for the fall semester. 2013 MHS grad Jacob Rennhack is about nine months into his one-year technical diploma for welding and is satisfied with his experience so far.

He was at the Central Campus on the day of the tour and said after two months BTC helped him find work. He currently works at Kuhn North America Inc., an agricultural machinery manufacturer in Brodhead, while finishing his final semester. Rennhack spent all of his time at the Janesville facility, but said future Milton students are lucky to have a campus in their own backyard.

“It’s a really good, hands-on course,” Rennhack said in regards to the welding program. “It’s about the best one in southern Wisconsin and a lot of the businesses in the area recognize that it’s a good program as well.”

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