Madison College students gain national recognition

July 17, 2014

From wiscnews.com: “Portage High grad takes 4th in nation in precision machining” — By Jen McCoy – Nate Schmudlach broke the mold, which is a good thing considering he’s highly skilled at precision machining.

The 20-year-old has an easy-going personality yet an intense drive toward an apprenticeship this fall in plastic injection molding. He’s being courted by a couple of machine shops and with his credentials more are likely to show interest.

In April, the 2012 Portage High School graduate took gold at the state’s post-secondary SkillsUSA championship in precision machining. Last month, he placed fourth in the same category at the national SkillsUSA Competition in Kansas City. The previous year, he placed seventh.

“My goal was I wanted to be in the top three, but getting fourth will go on my resume,” Schmudlach said. It’s not bad for his ego either, he said with a laugh.

Three vans from Madison College took students and instructors to the five-day competition. Schmudlach was accompanied by J.R. Colvin, a metrology instructor who worked closely with him to prepare, but at competition it’s all about the student’s skills without guidance.

The skilled trades convention and competition take the top state qualifiers and have them pit their abilities against each other in a best of the best test. The skilled areas range from aviation maintenance technology and welding to technical drafting and cabinetmaking.

Earlier this year, Schmudlach graduated from Madison College-Truax for machine tool and is employed/mentored at Isthmus Engineering & Manufacturing in Madison.

“I’m a jack-of-all-trades there, that’s what I want to be (in this profession),” Schmudlach said. “I have a desire to learn machining like no other. Sure, I may not know the most at the beginning, but by the end I’ll be better than anybody that’s initially better than me.”

At nationals, precision machining had 23 contestants demonstrate manual machining skills and knowledge areas including operation of manual milling machines, lathes, drill presses, and surface grinders. Contestants needed to demonstrate knowledge in hands-on testing with a lathe and mill, take two written tests, be versed in technical math and the ability to communicate verbally using proper industry terminology during an interview.

This was Schmudlach’s last year at the competition since he graduated unless he returns to school for a different trade, like carpentry. His family lives in Endeavor and Schmudlach is eager to be employed this fall when he’s done with his apprenticeship at Isthmus.

“You always need the drive and strive to do more, which I’ve had my whole life,” he said.

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