From chippewa.com: “Careers may finally separate twins” — EAU CLAIRE — Charles and Sam Welbourn are finally facing the moment when they will likely be going their separate ways, but they are OK with it. They each have their sights on a career in law enforcement, and now that they have their certification after graduation from the Chippewa Valley Technical College Law Enforcement Academy last Thursday, it’s time to look for jobs.

“We are both very close, but we’ll go wherever we get hired. We know we’re not going to be together,” said Sam.

Charles and Sam have been nearly as inseparable as they are indistinguishable from one another. In 2008, the identical twins graduated together from Chippewa Falls Senior High School, where they played both soccer and basketball. They attended UW-Stout together for two years, then both transferred to UW-Eau Claire, where they took up majors in criminal justice. They graduated together in May 2013.

Then came the 14-week CVTC Law Enforcement Academy, which consists of a series of classes held five days a week, eight hours a day, leading up to the granting of the certificate needed for employment as a public law enforcement officer in Wisconsin. A major requirement for admission is a minimum of 60 college-level credits, according to Eric Anderson, associate dean of the Emergency Services programs at CVTC. CVTC’s program is highly regarded, and Academy students can come from all over the state. The Welbourns were among 17 graduates in this spring’s class.

Back at Stout, Charles was listed as an engineering major, but Sam was undecided. They talked together about their next move before choosing law enforcement.

“We like the legal aspect of it,” Charles said. “And we liked the problem-solving aspect of it, and you get to work with your community through many different angles.”

“We like the unpredictability of the job. Every day is something new,” Sam added.

Yes, law enforcement can be a dangerous job, but that did not deter the Welbournes.

“It never crossed our minds,” Charles said. “It’s there, but it doesn’t affect us one bit.”

That’s because they will rely on the training they received at the Academy that taught them how to be conscious of the dangers, and how to look out for their own safety while serving the public.

“We had really good instructors here,” Sam said. “Passing on their life experiences was really valuable to us.”

One of the Welbourns’ fellow graduates, Joshua Pettis, spoke of safety in his remarks as the class speaker.

“Each day on duty, remember officer safety. You want to go home feeling as well as you did when you started,” Pettis said.

Pettis also advised the graduates to use their heads in every situation. “Your mind is your greatest weapon. Be sure to use it,” he said.

The guest speaker was Dallas Neville, the United States marshal for the western district of Wisconsin, who remarked on what he learned at each stage of his career, which included six years as Clark County sheriff. He advised the graduates to maintain high standards of integrity.

“You have all the control over your integrity, but if you ever lose it, it’s very difficult to get back,” Neville said. He added that they should remember that as patrol officers, they will represent not just the departments they work for, but all of law enforcement.

From chippewa.com: “Workers in demand” — EAU CLAIRE — As a student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC) Machine Tooling Technics program, Eric Weining of Menomonie has a valuable set of skills for potential employers. Unfortunately, it was probably too late for the employers at the CVTC Spring Career Fair Wednesday, April 9, to entice him.

Weining will not graduate from the program until December, but that didn’t stop him from getting a job at Phillips Plastics in Menomonie. He started about four weeks ago.

“I work in the tool room as a mold machine technician,” Weining said. He heard about a job opening there and had some contacts in the company, but his plans to finish his degree at CVTC was key. “That was motivation for them. They had been looking to hire a student from CVTC for their program.”

Starting early

In a sign of improving economic times, participation in the CVTC Spring Career Fair was up once again, and the message to employers was clear: Start your recruitment efforts early, as skilled workers are in high demand.

Overall, 81 private and public employers set up tables at three CVTC facilities at this year’s Spring Career Fair, up from 69 last spring and from 58 in spring 2012. The 37 employers at the Manufacturing Education Center represented an increase from 30 at the Spring 2013 Career Fair. In spring 2011, only 22 manufacturing businesses participated.

Kuss Filtration in Bloomer had never participated in the Spring Career Fair before, but it was time for the company that was spun off from Cummins Filtration to get proactive.

“Now that we’re spun off, there’s no outside support for troubleshooting equipment,” said Ben Rubenzer, manufacturing engineering manager for the company. He’s looking to expand a maintenance team of 14 at the plant that employs up to 170 workers.

“We’re looking at exploding our capabilities and our skill set internally,” Rubenzer said. “We’re looking at Electromechanical (Technology) students.”

Kuss Filtration was not the only company looking for people with the training to design, program and maintain the often automated equipment found in today’s manufacturing plants, nor was Kuss the first new employer to take part in the fair. Universal Services, a power line installation company out of Hastings, Minn.; Crown Trucks, a lift truck manufacturer from St. Paul; and Koch Pipeline were among several new Career Fair participants looking for people with such skills.

Some employers are anxious to find applicants.

Increased demand

Brad Moran at the TTM Technologies table said he has 31 maintenance workers at the Chippewa Falls plant, but he could use 40. “We’re constantly adding equipment. We’ve been on the increase the past two and half years,” Moran said.

A crowd of Machine Tooling Technics students gathered around the Riverside Machine and Engineering table, examining some of the small metal parts the company manufactures. The plant, which will be moving from Chippewa Falls into part of the Hutchinson Technology building on Eau Claire’s north side, has needs for machinists, inspectors on all shifts and calibration technicians. A sign at the table requested applicants for those jobs.

“About 90 percent of our crew is CVTC graduates. We recruit very heavily here,” said Elisia Gonsowski of the Riverside team.

Giles Nielsen of Five Star Plastics in Eau Claire was looking for Electromechanical Technology students, but also had his eyes open for people with other skills as well. On his table were two plastic prototype parts made through use of two different kinds of three-dimensional printers. CVTC recently added one of those types of printers.

“We have a rapid prototyping department,” said Nielsen. “If they know about this process and how to run these machines, it’s all the better.”

Plenty of openings

Companies tended to be quite familiar with CVTC graduates.

“We hired a CVTC student last year who is a multi-craft technician. He does a little bit of electrical and instrumentation and mechanical. He’s doing a great job for us. We’re looking to see who else is available,” said Natalie Caldarera of Koch Pipeline.

Denise Nelson of Universal Services had openings for as many as eight Electromechanical Technology technicians, four aerial linemen and a diesel mechanic – all skills taught in specific CVTC programs.

Students in the sought-after programs found a lot of interest from potential employers, but, as in Weining’s case, it was often too late – for the employers.

Electromechanical Technology student Charlie Yohnk of Bloomer has been working at Catalytic Combustion in Bloomer since September. “I plan to stay there, but I’m going around seeing what everyone else is up to,” he said.

It’s not too late for companies to spark an interest with Sam Reider, who can bring a diversity of skills. The 2007 Chippewa Falls High School graduate attended CVTC in the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology program, then served his country in Afghanistan as a diesel mechanic in the service. He’s now a CVTC Industrial Mechanics program student.

“I like fixing stuff. I want to see what’s out there after I graduate,” Reider said. He drew some early interest from Five Star Plastics, even though he’s not graduating until May 2015.

For Career Fair employers, recruitment is a long-term project.

From leadertelegram.com: “American Indians display history, beauty of culture in CVTC powwow event” – By Emily Miels Leader - The loud drumbeats, chanting and brightly colored costumes were hard to miss Monday at the Chippewa Valley Technical College commons.

Students and spectators got a firsthand look at the traditional dances and culture of American Indian tribes during the college’s annual American Indian Powwow Exhibition.

“You can’t help but be amazed at what you’re witnessing,” said Mike Ojibway, CVTC’s diversity and equal opportunity manager.

The Lac Courte Oreilles pipestone singers played drums and chanted along as dancers showed off traditional dances and costumes.

“A powwow is a social dance. It brings us together,” said emcee Dylan Prescott, who shared the significance and background of each song.

One of the first performances was the women’s traditional dance, which was light and graceful as the women “danced soft on Mother Earth,” Prescott said. However, women do not always dance soft. The traditional dance shifted into the “fancy” dance, a newer style in which women wear bright shawls and dance to upbeat, energetic music.

“(Men) used to throw rocks and sticks at them because they didn’t like how they were out there dancing around,” Prescott said.

The men’s traditional dance was meant to be a war dance, Prescott said. When the men returned from battle, the tribe would gather and celebrate with the warriors.

“They’d tell stories in their dance about what they’d done at war,” he said.

The costumes also play a significant role in telling about the dancer and the tribe itself, Prescott said. For example, the grass dancers wear long fringes on their costumes that sway as they dance, just as grass would in the breeze.

“I thought it was interesting that everything has a meaning — every color, ever piece of fabric on their clothing and the dances,” said CVTC student Stacy Rutsch, who attended Monday’s event.

Audience members watched as the dancers twirled, swayed and hopped, but they also got the chance to participate in the dances for themselves.

This was CVTC’s biggest powwow exhibition to date, with close to 40 dancers from Ho-Chunk, Ojibwe, Potowatami, Oneida, Menominee, Comanchi, Arikara, Sioux, and Omaha tribes.

“When they started out a couple of years ago there was only six (dancers), so it’s really growing, and hopefully it can continue to do that,” said Kodiak Cleveland, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and CVTC student who helped plan the event.

About 60 American Indian students are enrolled at CVTC, Ojibway said, but the campus continues to become more diverse.

“It’s important to show them that this is part of our culture, part of our life,” Cleveland said.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Teaching, class sharing rises at rural schools as budgets shrink” – As rural schools deal with the reality of reduced budgets and smaller enrollments, one of the inevitable trends is the reduction in the number of classes offered as schools focus on core subjects.

A number of Clark County schools are turning toward sharing teachers in a number of elective classes as a way of saving costs, while still providing students with learning opportunities.

Sue Rudesill, a family and consumer sciences teacher, begins each day in Neillsville, and then around lunch time makes the 20-minute commute to Greenwood to continue teaching in the afternoon.

It’s the first year she’s split time between two schools and said it took a little getting used to the first semester.

She would find herself trying to help students after class in Neillsville, but that potentially delayed her getting to Greenwood, causing the first part of her class in Greenwood to be missed.

After discussions with administrators in both districts, she said she now has a little more time to make the commute this semester.

Another change that districts are seeing is the increased reliance on distance learning courses. Students will be in a normal classroom, but the teacher often will be miles away in another school.

“We do have some rooms that are now available,” Neillsville School District Superintendent John Gaier said. “A lot of the rooms that used to have classes in them are now being used as distance learning classrooms. It’s possible for a high school class period to have four online classes going on.”

Students in Neillsville take distance learning classes through a number of different institutions, including the Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

But it’s not just courses being taught at institutions of higher education that students are taking. Sometimes schools share courses with each other through distance learning.

In Loyal, students take social studies through Granton, a required course for graduation.

“That’s a big step to go into that. Spanish is an elective, but to have a required class that’s important, the reason we did it was it seemed to be the least detrimental. The teacher would be the most able to appropriately communicate with students. You would not want to do chemistry (over distance learning),” Cale Jackson, Loyal School District administrator, said. “History seemed like something where the kids could still have a good experience even though it was over the distance learning.”

It takes a lot of work and coordination between schools to sync schedules, Jackson said, “but everybody is in the same boat, so everybody is willing to do it.”

From chippewa.com: “Students learn business communications on fast track” — As a non-traditional student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Business Management program, Jim Voss of Boyd had something of an advantage going into the Speed Networking event held as part of a planning and decision making class. He’s been at ease talking to people for years.

“I just never thought of it as ‘networking,’ ” Voss said. But he’s long understood the value of making business connections through personal connections. It’s something business people do constantly in social settings, but for some, especially young people, it can be difficult.

“You don’t have people waiting to talk to you,” Voss said about those social situations. “You have to go up and meet people.”

Getting some practice doing that was what the Speed Networking event March 31 at CVTC was all about.

The event involved 40 business people, matching the number of students in the class. Students are told to dress for a business setting but are not allowed to bring a resume. Although skills developed may help in job interviews, it is not an interview practice session, but something more informal.

Students sit down with the volunteers and talk for five minutes, then switch tables and talk with a new volunteer, meeting as many of the business people they can in the allotted time. This networking practice prepares the students for the real thing when they attend the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours networking session April 14.

The Speed Networking event, now in its seventh year, was developed by now-retired CVTC Business Management instructor Grace Rich, along with Jeff Pepper, who is now associate dean of business.

“It’s for the students to experience networking in a controlled environment,” said Mary Felton-Kolstad, who teaches the class.

Rich recalls that the idea for the event actually came from a student, who noted that one skill he didn’t learn, but needed, was how to talk to people he didn’t know.

Voss was a pressman for Chippewa Valley Newspapers for many years and is now studying business at CVTC in search of a new career after industry changes left him without work. His maturity made it easier for him to converse with the business people, many of whom were much younger than him. Still, he had much to gain from the exercise through meeting a variety of business people.

“One of the things I noticed was the directness and the honesty of the business people,” Voss said. “They all had something to say and offered some pointers.”

A couple of the business people Voss met gave him the names of others he could contact in his upcoming job search. “People that know people – that’s what networking is all about. Where else can you get 40 business people willing to meet with students?”

Student Patrick Seipel of Menomonie shared his desire to own his own business someday with the networking contacts he met.

“I was pretty built up around introducing myself,” Seipel said. “I’d talk about what I want to do the next year or the next couple of years and what I want to build for myself.”

Then he would ask the business people about themselves and their companies, sometimes finding a special connection. His business idea involved production of homemade candies and he heard a couple of tips about certified kitchens where he could get started.

“I made some good connections and a possible job opportunity from one of them,” Seipel said.

The business professionals were happy to help, and also saw benefit in the event for themselves and their businesses.

“I made my calendar open so I could do it,” said Kathy Christiansen, director of Lakeland College’s center in Chippewa Falls. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to give back and try to help students feel comfortable. It can be uncomfortable for them to walk up to someone and start a conversation.”

Christiansen was not there on a recruitment mission, but she was aware that some of the students may be interested in going back to school for additional degrees after they graduate from CVTC. “At least they will know we are available. It gave me an opportunity to tell my story. I’m a CVTC graduate who went to Lakeland,” Christiansen said.

Matt Jentile of Fastenal in Chippewa Falls saw the events as a benefit to the students and his company.

“Part of my job as a district manager is recruiting,” Jentile said. We have to get involved with technical colleges and universities and keep our pipeline full. We are growing so fast we want to reach out to students while they’re still in school.”

The Speed Networking event was in a structured setting, but after it was over, a large group of students and business people continued to network, gathering at the Green Mill restaurant and lounge in Eau Claire.

From inwisconsin.com: “State launches expanded, accelerated training program for trucking jobs” — Pewaukee – Governor Scott Walker made a stop at the Waukesha County Technical College today to announce the launch of a new program, designed to channel Wisconsin residents, including veterans, through accelerated training courses and into guaranteed placements at companies in the growing trucking industry.  Up to 300 Wisconsinites who pass eligibility screening will earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and advance to a placement at one of three Wisconsin trucking firms.

“Wisconsin’s transportation industry is experiencing a significant skills gap that will continue through at least 2020, and we need to act aggressively to address this issue,” Governor Walker said.  “Innovative approaches, like this accelerated training program, are the kinds of investments we need.  The incentive of a guaranteed placement at the conclusion of the program makes this initiative a win-win for employers and Wisconsin’s working families.”

The new CDL training program represents collaboration between the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Wisconsin Technical College System, transportation industry leaders, and three major Wisconsin employers: Schneider National of Green Bay, Roehl Transport of Marshfield, and WEL of De Pere.

The Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) will begin offering it this summer.  The Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offer related instruction at their sites.

“As Wisconsin’s lead state agency for talent development, DWD supports innovative workforce solutions that prepare individuals for careers in growing industry sectors,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson.  “We were pleased to convene the workgroup that ultimately led to this new initiative.  Wisconsin workers benefit with skills training and guaranteed placements and participating employers benefit with a direct pipeline to fill their openings.  Both efforts benefit Wisconsin’s economy.”

“One of WEDC’s areas of emphasis is to work with our partners throughout Wisconsin to help expand workforce training systems, especially for the state’s key industries,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization.  “There is no question that Wisconsin trucking companies need more qualified drivers to ensure their continued success, and the continued success of our economy.  We believe this program will play a key role in helping to fill that need.”

Up to 300 eligible job seekers will complete a four-week training course that results in a Commercial Driver’s License and a guaranteed placement at one of the three participating companies.  Once placed, the successful graduates will complete the standard introductory stage at the company and become a permanent hire.  Experienced semi-truck drivers can earn more than $23 per hour, or approximately 15 percent above the average wage in Wisconsin.

In the program, potential participants register on JobCenterofWisconsin.com and complete a series of assessments to determine their eligibility.  Those deemed eligible will complete the four-week training course offered through FVTC or WCTC, and then be matched with a guaranteed placement at one of the three trucking employers.

Given a capacity of 300 placements, DWD is prioritizing veterans, dislocated workers, workers who receive federal Trade Adjustment Assistance, and certain individuals who are eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.  The training and placements will be at no cost to the participant.  Other interested job seekers who are deemed eligible for the program will be asked to cover the $2,500 cost of the training.

The transportation companies’ hiring needs are in line with projections showing the need for semi-truck drivers will grow by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, to more than 55,000 semi-truck drivers.

Governor Walker recently signed legislation as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative to increase funds in the nationally-recognized Wisconsin Fast Forward by $35.4 million to focus on three key areas, including:

  • Grants to Wisconsin technical colleges to reduce wait lists in high-demand fields;
  • Collaborative projects among businesses, school districts, technical colleges, and educational partners to equip high school pupils with industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields; and
  • Programs that enhance the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, the current round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program announcements includes $1 million in available funds for employer-driven worker training programs for transportations, logistics, and distribution occupations.  These funds can be used to train new workers for job openings or train existing workers that results in a wage increase.

Interested job seekers are encouraged to visit https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com/Trucking/ or contact their local Job Center, which can be located at http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/directory/.

From leadertelegram.com: “Local high school students get college jump-start” — Ashley Carlson’s notebook page was neatly divided into two parts, with topics on the left side of the paper and details on the right.

Also on the left side of the page, Carlson wrote notes to herself, reminders such as “Double Check” and “New Stuff.”

Carlson, an Eau Claire Memorial High School senior, was learning valuable study skills along with algebra in her first-ever class on a college campus.

Area students have been taking college-level classes while still in high school through advanced placement and dual credit programs for some time. But twice a week Carlson sits in a classroom at Chippewa Valley Technical College with 23 other Memorial and Eau Claire North High School students, learning not only algebra skills but how to study effectively as well.

The goal of the program is to increase the odds of students completing college by giving them an early taste of it.

The experience was made possible through a College Success grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. With the grant, CVTC and the Eau Claire school district implemented the class as part of the Collaboration for Postsecondary Success (CAPS) program.

“We want them to get the college experience within the institution,” said CVTC academic services instructor Molly Craker, the grant coordinator. “We want them on our campus so they are introduced to our resources such as academic services, diversity resources, academic advisors and counselors.”

College dropout rates are higher for students from minority groups, low-income families, and first-generation college students. The CAPS program targets students from such groups.

“We were looking for students with a high likelihood of post-secondary attendance who could benefit from the program,” said Dianna Zeegers, an Eau Claire school district instructor who teaches college success strategies in the CAPS program.

Students gain credit toward their high school graduation and credit at CVTC that can be transferred to other institutions. The content instructor for the class is CVTC math teacher Mike Davis.

“We teach intermediate algebra, but the bigger lessons being learned are the opportunities that college can present.” Davis said. “They get treated as adults and some of them are not used to that as high school students.”

Among the lessons students said they learn by participating in the program is that success in college takes work.

“One of the first things (Davis) said to us was if you are not going to use your time well in class, there’s no point being here,” said Carlson. “It helps me to take class time a lot more seriously.”

The college experience involves much more than not having to get a hall pass to go to the bathroom. Much of students’ work is done online through a program called MyMathLab, which allows students to learn and work at home.

“They use an electronic textbook, which may be new to many of them,” Craker said.

Students notice, too, that the college will work with them to help them succeed. Many students make use of the Academic Services Center.

“I go there every Wednesday,” Memorial senior Kayli Werk said of the Academic Services Center. “The lady down there is super-helpful. Instead of giving you the answer, she’ll give you worksheets to help you understand it.”

Werk said Davis encourages students to ask questions and shows concern that students understand the concepts.

“I’m not really good at math,” said Carlson. “It’s shocking to me that I’m doing so well.”

Davis said the students he teaches generally are ready for the college work.

“Some of the students have had math at the level we are teaching. For some it is very new to them,” Davis said. “But they are all learning personal responsibility.”

Zeegers helps students with that part of the class. On a recent day she taught them the divided-page method of taking good notes, called “Cornell Notes,” and modeled it on an easel in front of the class. “As they progress through the class, I give them feedback on their notes and assess them on that,” Zeegers said.

The hybrid college/high school class seems to be well-received by participating students.

“I signed up because I thought I would get a taste of what college math would be like,” North senior Dave Zook said. “It’s going all right. We’re getting into some new stuff, but people are good at helping us out.”

Carlson said the algebra class is a good warm-up for her future education plans, which include attending CVTC next school year.

“This was an awesome opportunity,” Carlson said.

Davis said he’s happy to see his students advance their math skills as they mature into young adults.

“There’s definitely a handful of them that we know we have changed their path,” Davis said. “And when they say ‘I don’t know what I want to do,’ we help them work through that.”

 

From lacrossetribune.com: “Lincoln students get creative with junkyard sculpture in welding contest” — Lincoln High School students are too creative to weld a sculpture of just any old fish out of scrap metal for the Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing Show’s Junkyard Battle welding contest.

“I came up with the idea of the fish body,” said senior Nicki Danielson. “I just thought an angler fish would be awesome.”

But that wasn’t all. They had it in a tank of water, set up a system by which it could be raised from the tank by turning a wheel, had a spout of water coming out of its mouth through use of a pump system and integrated a little game with prizes. The effort was good enough to win second place, with another angler fish sculpture from Fall Creek taking first. The Lincoln team took first place at last year’s show.

Lincoln High School had a strong showing at the manufacturing show, with over 40 students coming in attendance. The students and other participants and visitors to the show experienced just how interesting and fun manufacturing can be. Area high school students were heavily involved in this year’s show. Besides the Junkyard Battle, students created complicated mazes in the machine tooling technics contest, and in electromechanical technology, students built robots to navigate a simple maze as fast as possible.

Visitors were able to don masks and try their hands at welding under the watch and with assistance from a CVTC student or instructor. People saw automated machines that could play guitar, set up bowling pins and make a golf putt – all designed and created by CVTC students. The chair on the flight simulator moved with the banking of the plane on the screen. In the nano engineering technology area, students demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen.

Nearly 40 companies from around the Chippewa Valley set up displays to show their company’s role in area manufacturing, and to recruit future employees.

“In the Chippewa Valley, close to 40,000 people make their living in manufacturing,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker in opening the show along with Gov. Scott Walker. “Ninety-one percent of our graduates have jobs within six months, 89 percent are right in the state of Wisconsin, and 70 percent are in northwest Wisconsin.”

A major purpose of the show was to present the modern face of manufacturing.

“If you go in our shops, they’re bright, they’re clean, they’re automated, and it takes a high skill level to operate the equipment,” said associate dean of manufacturing Jeff Sullivan.

To many of the young people attending, there was just a lot of fun stuff to do, like race robots and show off their junkyard fish sculptures.

The Lincoln team’s sculpture incorporated concepts of metal working, making it an educational piece as well. The tank of water, for example, can serve as a common welding shop tool.

“You can put a piece of metal you just welded in the fish’s mouth and lower it down to cool it. It’s called a quench tank,” Danielson said.

“We made a prototype of the sculpture out of cardboard,” said team member Edwin Ramos. “Nicki was the lead welder in putting her dream together.”

Team member Daniel Brown brought a lot of the junk used to make the sculpture.

“I got a lot of used junk trucks sitting around. I had an old fuel pump from a Chevy truck and an old fuel line, and wired it all up,” he said, explaining how he made the pump system for the spout of water.

Ramos explained another part of the process.

“We used an old water boiler, band saw blades, a weight bench, and a chain for the hook,” he said.

Many students in Scot Kelly’s principles of engineering class helped on the sculpture.

While many high school students took part in competitions, many students and members of the public came to learn more about opportunities in manufacturing. Jonathan Hurd, 23, of Fall Creek was eyeing up a new career by visiting the various program areas.

“I’m interested in electromechanical technology, but I’d love to learn it all,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I came, to get a feel for it all.”

Becky Larson of Eau Claire came with her husband and their son, Nick, who is in eighth grade. “I wanted to see what opportunities are out there for a job, and so many of the jobs that are coming up are going to be in manufacturing,” she said.

Larson, a middle school counselor, was also picking up information for her students who are beginning to think about careers.

“Electromechanical technology was fun with all the projects they do, like the ‘Smoke on the Water,’ one that played guitar by itself,” said Nick Larson.

Approximately 2,000 people attended the show, including Walker, who noted in opening remarks to an audience mostly of high school students that the Wisconsin flag displays the tools of manufacturing.

“It’s part of our heritage and our history, and it’s part of our future,” Walker said. “Manufacturing is leading our state’s economic recovery, and we need to encourage the next generation of workers by educating everyone about the great, family-supporting jobs available. These students are the future of our workforce; and by providing quality, highly technical training, we are setting them up for success and securing Wisconsin’s place among the top manufacturers in the country.”

From chippewa.com: “Herald, Dunn County News launch Extra Effort program” – If you want a lesson in resiliency, you don’t have to look far. Just point yourself in the direction of the nearest school, where many kids provide daily examples.

For instance: students who come from split families and single-part families, who have had to deal with tragedy and loss; students who have had to work through communication barriers that impacted their studies; and students who have persevered through cancer diagnosis and other health ailments.

It is our goal to tell several of these inspirational stories in the coming weeks as part of a program called Extra Effort that we are launching in the Chippewa Valley. The program will honor high school seniors who have overcome challenges or provided exemplary service to the community, often with little recognition.

Extra Effort is about students on the verge of adulthood who have tales of struggle, illness and survival, or of making a dedicated effort to give back to the community. Their road hasn’t typically been an easy one. They likely aren’t star athletes or valedictorians. They probably don’t have perfect grades. But many of them have overcome tremendous odds, and the one thing they all have in common is the way they can inspire.

All area high schools have been invited to take part. The Chippewa Herald and our sister paper, the Dunn County News in Menomonie, will publish profiles of a student from each school in the coming weeks. Our first one will appear in Monday’s Herald.

We are partnering in this program with the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College, to recognize and provide some scholarship assistance to the Extra Effort winners. The three institutions will take turns in hosting a spring reception for the students who are chosen to represent their schools. This year’s reception will be hosted by UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday, May 21.

Extra Effort is based on a program that our fellow Lee papers in La Crosse and Winona, Minn., in conjunction with its higher-ed institutions, have been operating for several years. The program has been extremely well received by the public and the educational community.

“We’re very fortunate to develop this dynamic partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Stout and UW-Eau Claire to honor some high school seniors who have overcome obstacles or provided exemplary service to their communities,” Herald Publisher Rusty Cunningham said. “Our programs in La Crosse and Winona have recognized and provided scholarship help to some courageous students who otherwise wouldn’t have received the recognition they deserve,” Cunningham said.

It is our plan to make Extra Effort a beloved yearly tradition in the Chippewa Valley, just as it has become in the River Valley.

“I can honestly say that this program tops my list as a favorite part of my career, because this recognition is nothing less than life-changing for these kids and an inspiration for us all,” says Patty Shepard, a counselor at Holmen High School. She said she could probably name every one of her school’s recipients and is in contact with many of them, all of whom continue to succeed.

“The Extra Effort program is an incredible endeavor that connects the area businesses and post-secondary institutions with our schools and most importantly, highlights the value of our youth through their incredible stories. We are so very privileged to be part of this program,” Shepard said.

We are privileged to be able to tell the stories of our 2014 Extra Effort recipients. They are deserving of your time, just as the subjects are deserving of your admiration.

From weau.com: “Tax cuts could change tech school funding” – A proposed tax cut could affect the way area technical colleges are funded.

Earlier this week, the state senate approved Governor Scott Walker’s plan to use the state surplus to cover $504-million in tax cuts.

Under the changes technical colleges would get more than $400-million from the state’s budget surplus- meaning homeowners would pay less toward funding schools like Chippewa Valley Technical College.

“From our point of view as a system it really brings us some balance in the system in terms of where our funds come from,” Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said.

Foy says the changes to buy down homeowners property taxes using the state’s surplus would mean more balance when it comes to funding schools.

“With this change happening in 2015 we would go back we would have greater balance state aid would account for 45-percent of our operating costs as opposed to 10-percent,” Foy explained.

What the cuts would mean for the average home owner and tax payers is more money in their pocket.

“For a typical working family in the state it means their property taxes will be down more than 100 dollars and it means there withholding the amount they see in their paycheck will actually go up by over 500 dollars through the end of the year,” Governor Scott Walker said.

Governor Walker says in addition to the shift in funding due to the budget surplus, the state will also give a one-time payment of $35-million to technical colleges to help cut down on the amount of time it takes to enroll in classes.

“There was $35-million available in the Wisconsin Economic Development budget and we shifted that into helping our technical colleges buying down our wait list,” Walker said.

Despite the increased money to technical colleges, area Democrats say it still doesn’t make up for the deep cuts that were made in the past year.

“It doesn’t address a few things. The first is it doesn’t address the fact that there was $72-million cut last year,” State Representative Dana Wachs said.

The tax cut bill now heads to the state assembly for a vote on March 18th. If approved it would head to the governor’s desk for his signature.

From weau.com: “Walker attends Manufacturing Show at Chippewa Valley Technical College” – How technology is used in manufacturing was the major focus of a show at CVTC Thursday.

The manufacturing show featured more than 20 companies and a number of programs at the college. It also included a junkyard battle competition where area high school students showcased their talents.

Governor Scott Walker was at the event to see all the college had to offer. He said it’s great to have the connection between the technical college and area high schools to show younger students the opportunities available after graduation.

“It’s amazing to see the things they make, really incredible work, and its great to see all the high schoolers coming by to see the oppourtunities in manufacturing,” said Governor Scott Walker.

More than 40 regional manufacturing businesses were also at the event to talk to guests about career opportunities.

View video from weau.com

From leadertelegram.com: “Manufacturing in the spotlight” — A group of high school students stood wide-eyed as a Chippewa Valley Technical College student dropped a metal ball that seemed to defy gravity as it fell through a simple copper tube. It fell slowly through the tube as if moving in molasses, never touching the sides.

The demonstration of electromagnetic forces took place in the Nano Engineering Technology area of CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center last March at the annual Manufacturing Show, which returns for a third year Thursday.

That simple ball-and-tube trick will have to take a distant back seat to other high-end demonstrations this year. For instance, CVTC now has equipment that uses streams of water under extremely high pressure to cut metal in precise detail, without the harmful effects heat-based metal cutting can leave behind.

Manufacturing Show demonstrations also will include a three-dimensional printer that doesn’t use ink. Instead, it produces, layer after layer, at high speed, a 3-D plastic model of items drawn up with paper and numbers.

“It gives us an ability to replicate a concept or design, showing the working parts,” said CVTC Associate Dean of Manufacturing Jeff Sullivan. “The printers are being used a lot in the medical field.”

New machine tool program equipment that will be on display is capable of speeds up to 12,000 rpm. “The purpose of the high speed is higher accuracy and tighter tolerances,” Sullivan said.

And the purpose of students working on such a machine is to prepare them for the kind of equipment being used in the industry today, important given the prevalence of the machine tool industry in the Eau Claire area.

Welcome to the world of modern manufacturing. People who still picture manufacturing as taking place in dark, dingy places with low-skilled workers doing simple repetitive work will have their minds changed by attending the show, people affiliated with the event said.

“The entire show will present a good overview of manufacturing careers in western Wisconsin,” said Roger Stanford, CVTC vice president of instruction. “We have a great diversity of manufacturing companies in this area, many of them producing products that are getting attention worldwide. Attendees can learn more about these companies at the Manufacturing Show and how CVTC prepares workers for lucrative careers in manufacturing.”

About 20 manufacturing companies will have displays about their role in their industries and in the Chippewa Valley economy. They will use the show to recruit new workers as well.

Joining those companies will be representatives of CVTC’s manufacturing programs: electromechanical technology, industrial mechanic, industrial mechanical technician, machine tooling technics, welding and welding fabrication. Some of the physical science programs, such as nano engineering technology, manufacturing engineering technologist and industrial engineering technician also will be involved.

Students play a vital role in the show. As part of regular course work, they have constructed and programmed robotic equipment that performs such tasks as playing a guitar, making a golf putt or resetting bowling pins.

Area high school students also will be heavily involved in this year’s show. Back again will be the Junkyard Battle, in which high school welding students will compete with their creations made of scrap metal. Last year the contest featured student-made sculptures of their school mascots. This year’s show will feature several more competitions.

Machine tool students will compete in the Amazing Maze event, creating complicated mazes in competition for the best design. Engineering students will use computer-aided design programs to draw up plans for devices. The top design will be reproduced on the 3D printer.

In the electromechanical area, students will create robots that work through a maze without human intervention. The industrial mechanics program is working on a competition involving development of miniature cannons.

“We are reaching out to our K-12 school district partners to develop agreements and programs that expose younger students to manufacturing and prepare high school students for entry into CVTC’s manufacturing programs,” Sullivan said.

The event has been well-attended by the general public since its inception, and area school districts take advantage by using it as an educational experience for students. Some parents bring their children who are starting to think about careers.

The show offers plenty for attendees to do, such as trying out simulators, watching robotic welders, learning what local manufacturers are producing and witnessing student creativity.

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 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 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: “Dental pros, students, work to ‘Give Kids a Smile’” –EAU CLAIRE — Alyxandria Lunemann clutched her stuffed animals tight and opened her mouth. The 6-year-old girl was nervous about having cavities filled, her mother, Janice Lunemann, said. Dr. Walter Turner’s chairside manner put her at ease, though.

Janice was happy to bring Alyxandria to Chippewa Valley Technical College from their New Auburn home on Friday for the Give Kids a Smile event at the CVTC Dental Clinic. The cavities had been diagnosed previously, but she was having trouble getting Alyxandria in to see a dentist to have them filled.

That’s what Give Kids a Smile is for. Sponsored nationwide by the American Dental Association and locally by the Chippewa Valley Dental Society and the Wisconsin Dental Association, the event offers free dental care to children ages 2-13. This is CVTC’s ninth year hosting the event locally.

The event is particularly helpful for families who lack dental insurance and can’t afford to pay for dental care on their own.

“There is an access-to-care issue,” said Pam Entorf, CVTC dental program instructor. “There is a shortage of dentists who are able to take patients who don’t have insurance or can’t pay. For many of these kids, this is the only time they get any sort of dental treatment. That’s why this event is so important.”

Helping at the event were the CVTC dental hygienist program students and instructors, professional dentists from around the Chippewa Valley, and hygienists and assistants from their staffs. The stars of the show, though, are the young patients.

“I’m pretty happy to be here,” said Janice Lunemann. “Alyxandria had gummy snacks when she was younger and it created some issues with her teeth, but she flosses well.”

Brian Insteness of Lake Hallie brought his 11-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, who had an x-ray taken by Joe Granica, a hygienist with North Lakes Dental in Hayward.

“We don’t have dental insurance, so we take advantage of this,” Insteness said. “She’s getting her check-up and we’ll go from there.”

The kids treated leave with more than healthier teeth. They also take home information and advice. The day is also about education — for children and for the next generation of dental care professionals.

“Childhood dental decay is a communicable, infectious disease,” said Entorf, pointing out that if one child in a family has decay, the bacteria that causes it could spread to other children. “It’s important to teach children as young as possible about how to take care of their teeth so they don’t have problems as they get older.”

The student hygienists work on patients in regular clinic settings as well, but the Give Kids a Smile event is a much busier day, and teaches them that giving back to the community is part of all health care professions.

“A lot of the students who were graduates of the program here come back to volunteer. It’s like a class reunion,” Entorf said.

Turner, of Turner Pediatric Dentistry in Eau Claire, has been giving back through participation in Give Kids a Smile for 25 years.

“The technical college does a very good service for people and kids, and this facility is large enough to handle it,” he said. “I love doing it, and they like my service for the kids. I want to get them off to a right start.”

From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC working with line workers on safety” –Bandi Henke understands the difficulty in convincing electric power distribution line workers to use fall prevention equipment. He had plenty of training and experience in the field before becoming an instructor at Chippewa Valley Technical College and knows how fast and seemingly easy it is to for workers to “free climb” a wooden power pole.

But falls and injuries are still too common in a trade in which there is an increasing emphasis on use of safety equipment. That’s why Henke had excellent attendance at sessions called Fall-Arrest Fundamentals during CVTC’s Line worker U Feb. 4-5 at the Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Eau Claire.

More than 80 line workers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan attended the event, which featured 18 break-out sessions on topics ranging from updates on the latest in industry equipment to a review of code changes.

“It’s to update your skills and learn new things you don’t see every day,” said Beau Blade, a line worker with Eau Claire Energy Cooperative for the past 14 years. “The technology is new because everything’s computerized.”

While sessions on new technology and equipment were well-attended, sessions dealing directly with the health and safety of line workers were particularly popular among the workers from electric power cooperatives, municipal utilities and power companies.

Henke said line workers not currently using fall prevention equipment will do so soon.

“The power line industry is not letting people free climb as much as they used to. They are going to some form of fall protection,” Henke said.

In the session, Henke held up an early device commonly called a “Buck Squeeze” and found a few line workers are still using them. “It’s not user-friendly,” Henke remarked. “But it’s better than dying.”

He then showed the updated version of the device, calling it “180 percent better.” He also showed a number of similar devices from various manufacturers and demonstrated their use on an eight-foot wooden practice pole.

Attendees then donned their own climbing gear and tried out the devices for themselves.

“I’ve never used one before, but they say it’s going to be coming to the industry,” said Scott Devoe of Barron Electric Cooperative. “They will take a lot of getting used to. There are so many different adjustments.”

CVTC Electrician apprenticeship instructor Randy Larson, who led the team organizing Line worker U, said another popular session was conducted by Dr. Kevin Schultz of Hallie Chiropractic on reducing risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

“Fifteen years ago, he never would’ve had anyone attend his session,” Larson said. “But people are much more concerned about their health than before. The guys are interested in how to stay healthy and live longer.

“Dr. Schultz must have had 30 guys in there. When he got done, people didn’t want to leave. He was in there for two hours answering questions,” Larson continued.

It’s not just their own health and safety that concern line workers.

“We did an emergency response training on what to do on the job if someone is injured and what procedures to use,” said Steve White, a line worker with Rock Energy headquartered in Janesville. “Sometimes we’re out in the middle of nowhere and it could take a while to get response.”

Larson said Line worker U had been a dream of his for 15 years, and now that it’s off the ground, he’s considering how to make it better and expand the offerings.

From chippewa.com: “Manufacturing still drives area, state economy” –  by Ross Evavold – This question was once posed to me: Where would Wisconsin be without manufacturing?

It’s basically a rhetorical one, since the answer is quite obvious. Consider these facts:

  • Wisconsin leads the entire U.S. in manufacturing jobs per capita.
  • Ten percent of the state’s pool of workers 16 and over are employed in manufacturing. That’s twice the national average.
  • Manufacturing is the state’s single largest employment sector.
  • We have more than 9,000 manufacturers in the state, and more than 400,000 workers in that area.
  • All but one of Wisconsin’s 37 largest industries are in manufacturing.
  • It provides jobs for a majority of Wisconsin workers who do not have a college degree.

So as you can see, manufacturing is still the driver of the Badger state’s economy, for now and the foreseeable future.

Manufacturing is responsible for about 20 percent of the gross state product, and that figure translates to roughly the same percentage in the Chippewa Valley.

Our heavy reliance on manufacturing also comes with some risks. Wisconsin has many fewer manufacturing jobs than it did in 2000, but it has also retained more jobs than other manufacturing-heavy states, while manufacturing has also weathered the Great Recession of our lifetimes better than other job sectors.

Not that there won’t be challenges. Charlie Walker, director of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, said that in trying to stay ahead of the curve, this area has been very proactive in identifying long-range issues that will impact growth.

He cited three major criteria for this area’s manufacturing success: the talent level of the workforce; accessibility to the marketplace through rail and highway infrastructure; and reliability of power. Walker says we stack up well in all three categories.

The Chippewa Valley also ranks well when it comes to advanced manufacturing, encompassing the high-tech assembly industry like the one we feature on the cover.

SGI has roots here dating back to when Silicon Graphics bought Cray Research in the mid-’90s. And now Jabil Circuits will become the latest worldwide player to land here, with its purchase of SGI’s manufacturing facility.

Jabil’s success story is impressive: Since its start nearly 50 years ago in Detroit, the company has expanded relentlessly through acquisitions and by evolving to serve numerous industries. In 2012 it ranked 157th in Fortune magazine’s list of the 500 most admired companies.

Oh, and SGI is very much sticking around here, as so many other related businesses have also done once they come to the area. TTM Technologies still produces circuit boards with about 1,000 workers in Chippewa Falls, and Cray, Inc., just installed and filled more supercomputer orders than any quarter in its history, sending its stock price soaring.

They have all found workers in this area to be among the best in the nation, which supports Walker’s contention as to the talent level.

Helping produce those workers with specific skill sets for our manufacturing companies are UW-Stout and Chippewa Valley Technical College, which have forged relationships with many area firms. The schools have been so successful that some graduates have actually had to turn down job offers.

Our winter issue also takes a look at why Five Star Plastics in Eau Claire’s Sky Park Industrial Center is undertaking its second large expansion in five years, and Nanospark, a young spinoff company in Altoona with a bright future.

A key area with manufacturers is often exports, and Momentum West, an economic development group representing 10 area counties, is expanding its horizons this year by going beyond our borders. It is targeting two international trade shows with hopes of landing businesses for this area.

From weau.com: “Cold weather brings diesel dangers” – Semi-trucks, plows and school buses are all in danger when the temperatures drop below zero.

Mechanics say the proper fuel and care by truck drivers could save valuable time and money, especially on days when we don’t see temperatures above zero.

“The biggest thing is the filters get plugged. Once the filter’s plugged, then we run out of fuel,” Chippewa Valley Technical College diesel mechanic instructor Rusty Naylor said.

“The diesel fuel will start gelling when it gets down around 0 degrees. Anything below that, additives have to be put in to keep the fuel from getting thick,” Mid State International Trucks service manager Tom Behling said.

“Drivers in this area, what we have most problem with, is people coming from the south. They’re coming up from Florida, Texas, they fuel up in Missouri, and then when they hit here, our climates 20 below (zero), plus. They don’t think about the fuel gelling. They don’t have a problem down south,” Naylor said.

Behling said his Eau Claire shop has seen more than 100 trucks come because of cold weather problems, twice what it saw last year.

“If they can drive the truck here, they can easily get out of here for a couple hundred dollars. You get towed in; you’re probably looking at $1,000 or more because towing gets expensive.”

He along with Naylor said there are things drivers can do to avoid diesel from gelling up.

“You need a blended fuel, that will drop the temperature at which this wax will develop … Also to that you have to put additives in,” Naylor said.

“This is a trial and error time. I’m looking at tomorrow morning myself, got good fuel, blended fuel; we’ll see what happens at 25 below zero.”

Naylor said if a truck starts, but power drops while driving, that could be a sign that diesel is gelling.

From weau.com: “Filing your taxes soon? You’ve got options” – It’s your ticket to a big check from Uncle Sam, or for some it’s payback time to the IRS. Your W-2 should be in the mail soon and in 2014, there are plenty of different ways for taxpayers to file their taxes.

“I just got my W-2 in the mail. I may have to do it in the next week or two, I might need to get started on that,” said student at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Nathan Hakes.

Hakes and millions of Americans will be able to file their taxes now, but due to last year’s government shutdown, the IRS delayed the tax filing season by ten days.

“You can still prepare you return and send it, it’ll just be held until January 31st timeframe,” said Casper Haas, a tax manager at InCity Tax Service in downtown Eau Claire.

That means the IRS won’t begin processing tax preparations sent in until the end of the month. The April 15th deadline is still in place

Haas knows all about filing taxes because he thinks about it 365 days a year as a tax manager.

“Tax preparation can be stressful and we’re in the business of preparing tax returns. This is what we do, this is what we live for, this is what we study for,” said Haas who said people have begun bringing in their taxes for him to help prepare.

He said a professional preparer is something to consider, especially if you’re dealing with more than just a W-2.

“(If they have) two income households, they own a home, they have dependents, so they more than likely would itemize deductions, so Schedule A.,” said Haas. “We work with small businesses as well as LLCs, sole proprietors; we can do those returns as well.”

If you feel comfortable doing your own taxes, technology can help you do just that. New this year are tax preparation apps that can be downloaded on a mobile device. H&R Block came out with a Tax Preparation 2013 app and so did TurboTax with its new app called SnapTax.

SnapTax is as simple as snapping a picture of your W-2 on your smartphone and it will put all the information into the app program, calculating your federal and state returns.

Some people turn to software, like TaxACT and Intuit TurboTax.

“I now use TurboTax online,” said Hakes. “It’s so much faster and I can answer everything myself.”

Hakes said his mother taught him how to file his own taxes.

“I tried going through H&R Block but I think through TurboTax, I was able to find the deductions I knew. Now online works for me, it’s simple,” he said.

The IRS lets you file your taxes for free if your income is below $58,000. A free tax prep software is offered online at the IRS.gov website. For income above $58,000, it offers free file fillable forms which will be available on January 31, 2014.

And if you’re low income and want something free, CVTC is offering VITA, the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program.

“We have students who are very, very eager to help out and it’s great experience for them as well because gives them that real life feel and real interaction,” said accounting instructor Jason Szymanski.

He said it’s a chance for people who can’t afford professional help to get their taxes prepared by a trained and certified volunteer. Volunteers can help with services that are not too complicated, like income tax credit, child care tax credits, unemployment compensation and Wisconsin homestead tax credit.

CVTC said the VITA service is offered Thursdays Feb. 6 through April 10 in room 240 of the Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire. The service is provided on a first-come-first-served basis, with sign-up beginning at noon and tax preparation from 1-4:30 p.m. each day.

From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC leader: State aid boost keeps job training in high gear” — Any way you look at it, Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement during his State of the State address Wednesday that Wisconsin technical colleges will receive an additional $35 million is good news, Chippewa Valley Technical College President Bruce Barker said.

Barker was enthusiastic after hearing Walker’s remarks about increasing funding for the technical college he oversees and others.

“It’s certainly good news,” Barker said of the additional money, part of a program dubbed Wisconsin Fast Forward. “It’s definitely more money for training and education, and that’s a good thing.”

However, Barker said while that money can be used to hire more teachers, he doesn’t believe it can be spent to add laboratory space, already in high demand at CVTC.

“It’s additional dollars, but we have to see what the requirements will be,” Barker said. “The problem is the capacity of our labs. Our welding lab goes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and these are year-round programs.”

The main components of Wisconsin Fast Forward aim to eliminate waiting lists in high-demand job markets such as manufacturing, agriculture and information technology, and help high school students get credits through dual enrollment programs between high schools and technical colleges.

CVTC has longer waiting lists for nurse hygienists and nursing programs than in manufacturing or agriculture programs, Barker said.

“We’re certainly seeing a big demand in manufacturing and transportation, for truck drivers. Both of those programs, we’re at maximum capacity,” Barker said.

State Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, who introduced Wisconsin Fast Forward in the Assembly, said the initiative is a step in the right direction.

“Linking job seekers with employers that target critical and in-demand jobs while working with tech colleges and workforce development centers across the state puts a sharp focus on employment issues at a local level, where need and demand can be best addressed,” she said in a news release.

In addition to those programs, Walker proposed replacing $406 million in property taxes for technical colleges with state dollars. That would be accomplished by lowering the property tax levy that technical colleges can assess on homeowners.

“It’s a step in the right direction for local taxpayers,” Barker said. “But with the switch to state dollars, you fear losing local control. You also fear a cut in the state budget.”

Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said in a statement Thursday that Walker’s plan brings better balance to the system’s funding structure. Foy said the system has “long sought greater equity between local and state investments.”

From aspeninstitute.org: “2015 Eligible Community Colleges” — The Aspen Institute is pleased to name the following 150 community colleges eligible for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  We recognize that there are many community colleges around the country that are employing innovative strategies and achieving excellent results for their students.  The bar for the Aspen Prize is intentionally set high in order to identify those institutions that have demonstrated exceptional levels of student success.

In a comprehensive review of the publicly available data, these 150 two-year institutions—from 37 states—have demonstrated strong outcomes considering three areas of student success:

  • student success in persistence, completion, and transfer;
  • consistent improvement in outcomes over time; and
  • equity in outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

To ensure full representation of the range and diversity of the sector, adjustments were applied with respect to mission, size, and minority representation.

Wisconsin

  • Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire, WI
  • Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland, WI
  • Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI
  • Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
  • Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, WI

From hudsonstarobserver.com: “Hudson students explore healthcare careers” – Camryn Letcher placed the stethoscope on the rubbery surface and listened. “I heard a heartbeat,” the Hudson High School freshman said. “It was really weird because it felt like it was alive, like I was listening to a real person.”

The patient simulators at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in River Falls bring to life realistic vital signs and symptoms. For Letcher, the experience was closer than she had ever been to real patient care in a clinical setting. “I’m thinking of being a pediatric nurse,” she said.

The trip to CVTC was part of the Hudson High School Healthcare Discovery Day, which also included visits to Hudson Hospital and Catalyst Sports Medicine in Hudson.

Forty-one Hudson freshmen took part in the day-long event. At CVTC, in addition to checking out vital signs on the adult and infant patient simulators, the students learned how to use a hypodermic needle by practicing on an orange, tried on neck braces, tried out various medical testing devices and talked with faculty about careers in healthcare.

“They seemed very engaged,” said CVTC Nursing Instructor Renee Christensen, R.N. “Simulation is very exciting for this age group, and they asked good questions.”

“The purpose of the event is to provide students with the opportunity to explore healthcare careers, to understand what career ladders are, and to see how they can bring value to the community,” said Melisa Hansen, school-to-careers coordinator at Hudson High School.

Healthcare Discovery Day was made possible by a $2,500 grant from the nonprofit Northwest Area Health Education Sector. Students registered for the event.

“They were asked why they wanted to come, and a lot of them already had their eyes on high-level health care careers,” said Hansen. Others just wanted to explore. They got a good taste of it during the three on-site visits.

Christensen showed the students a video of a full-scale emergency room scenario in which students interacted with professionals in a mock response to victims from an auto accident coming in for treatment. Patient simulators and even live actors were used to depict various conditions in the fast-paced environment.

“That is really good experience for students,” Christensen said of the video scenario. “Sometimes they make mistakes, and sometimes we allow them to make mistakes, because it’s not going to hurt anyone. They’ll probably never make that mistake again.

“I’ve had students get really involved in the simulations, and cry when a (simulated) baby comes in,” Christensen continued.

The students found their experiences with the simulators and the information on the training involved in healthcare careers much more interesting than what they usually experience in a high school classroom.

“I’m thinking about being a physical therapist,” said Braxton Belt. “I really liked the simulators. We listened to the heart and lungs.”

“It’s really interesting to see how it’s done in the real world,” said Logan Nelson, who is considering a career in sports medicine.

Students like Nelson and Kyla Schewe, who is also considering a sports medicine career, had the opportunity to see the profession up close in a visit to Catalyst Sports Medicine that afternoon, where they viewed the treatment of a simulated injury.

At Hudson Hospital, ninth-graders learned about an array of healthcare careers with educational and hands-on learning opportunities. Sarah Stockman, manager, laboratory, Hudson Hospital & Clinics, is the hospital representative on the healthcare advisory council. Her role is to partner with the council to offer educational experiences for students that are leaning towards a career in healthcare.

“It’s great to get a chance to help our high school students discover all the career options that are available to them in the healthcare field. We hope to inspire them to continue their education and become healthcare professionals,” said Stockman.

Students learned about various healthcare careers from hospital staff including lab, dietary, Birth Center and Surgery & Procedure Center. They also toured the Emergency Center, Imaging Center and Rehabilitation Center Physical Therapy.

At the hospital, they also watched the simulated resuscitation of a choking baby, met with a dietician and observed lab work, among other activities.

“We wanted them to see that healthcare is a profession in which they need 21st century skills, like problem solving, team building and critical thinking,” Hansen said. “This experience provided relevance. They follow the routine at school, and they didn’t have an understanding of what goes on outside of school.”

Hansen added that the Healthcare Discovery Day was a teambuilding exercise for the students. “They were learning together today. There’s power in that.”

In planning the day, Hudson High School staff worked with a community advisory council of professionals in healthcare and education. Hansen said they are very appreciative of the help of the council members, as well as the cooperation of Catalyst Sports Medicine, Hudson Hospital and CVTC.

“The people here are absolutely amazing and I applaud them,” she said.

The grant was only able to fund this year’s event, with any leftover funds being used for healthcare career exploration. To continue the program on an annual basis, either additional grants or school district funding will be needed, Hansen said.

From thecountrytoday.com: “Broadening opportunities: New CVTC instructors bring industry insider knowledge” – EAU CLAIRE — With a few fresh faces on its agricultural staff, Chippewa Valley Technical College is looking forward to a bright future in 2014. In the past year, the college hired three new agriculture instructors. CVTC horticulture instructor Susan Frame said the new additions bring industry knowledge that will help students excel in their fields.

“One of the advantages Chippewa Valley Technical College students have is that the instructors have been in the industry,” Frame said.

Among the new arrivals are animal science instructor Adam Zwiefelhofer, agronomy instructor Jon Wantoch and farm business instructor Maria Bendixen. All three are UW-River Falls alumnus.

Zwiefelhofer, who majored in agricultural education, hails from the Eleva-Strum area.

The former Genex breeding specialist said teaching was a natural transition, noting, “I always knew I wanted to teach.”

Wantoch, a Mondovi native, majored in agricultural studies with minors in dairy science and biology and was previously employed by Lakeland Cooperative.

The switch to teaching was an easy one, he said, adding, “Helping others fits who I am.”

Bendixen taught high school agriculture in Colby and spent a year serving as UW-Extension agriculture agent for Taylor and Marathon counties before signing on as Clark County’s agent, a position she held for seven years.

Though she worked directly with producers as an ag agent, Bendixen said she was interested in being able to work with them on a more continual basis.

“I’m excited to be able to work with farmers for an extended period of time and to be able to follow up,” she said.

Bendixen joins veteran farm business instructor Mark Denk in aiding farmers in continuing education throughout western Wisconsin.

Continuing education

Zwiefelhofer said many people don’t realize the extent of continuing education CVTC offers.

The ag programs have 80 students on campus. Another 160, mainly farmers, are enrolled in the Farm Business and Production Management program, which offers resources to improve management skills. The program features part-time instruction with topics rotating over six years, versus the typical time-intensive 32-week school year.

Students range from high schoolers (enrolled in the youth option) to farmers in their 70s, Denk said, noting the broad variety of ages and backgrounds creates a unique peer setting not found at larger educational institutions.

“There’s a lot of knowledge transfer that comes into play there,” Bendixen said. “It leads to some lively discussions — which is fortunate, because in agriculture, there’s no one right way to do things.”

Zwiefelhofer said the school has adjusted its curriculum for the ever-diversifying niches of Wisconsin agriculture.

“I think we’ve flexed with the times,” he said. “If there aren’t jobs for our students, we’re not going to be around in the future.”

Though their three main program areas are agriscience technician; landscape, plant and turf management; and farm business and production management, Denk said the instructors have helped students branch out into other topics.

“We’ve had students interested in hops, for example,” he said. “In that case we end up working with them on a more individualized basis or connect them with an industry partner, but the backbone of what they need to learn remains the same.”

That backbone is rooted in ag-focused marketing, sales, equipment and facility courses. From there, students can branch out into the varying tracks.

Industry partners, such as Case IH and John Deere, have been instrumental in CVTC’s ag programs, Denk said.

“I personally feel like we touch on community more than the larger universities,” Zwiefelhofer said. “The labs we do are mostly on farms or businesses in our local community.”

The college has an active biofuels program in which students grow the crops used to generate biofuels. Students can also become certified in skills such as commercial pesticide application, skid-steer operation and performing animal ultrasounds.

Two greenhouses on campus allow students to grow produce, which this year was sold in an on-campus farmers market.

“We also do hydroponics and work closely with cooperating farms and the local farming population,” Frame said.

Students also benefit from a strong internship program, Zwiefelhofer said.

“The internships they take between their first and second year are really what separate us from the larger schools,” he said. “A lot of times it leads into employment.”

Those interested in learning more about the ag programs are welcome to shadow classes.

CVTC also has a transfer agreement that allows students to carry credits into the UW system.

Denk is eager to see how the ag programs develop with the influence of the new instructors.

“We’ve got a great staff here,” he said. “We’re committed to working together for the students’ success.”

CVCT grad is also EMT trainer

December 20, 2013

From piercecountyherald.com: “Double Duty: CVTC grad is EMT trainer” – Jessica Brickner was not out of her element at all as the student speaker at the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) River Falls campus graduation Dec. 16 at Meyer Middle School.

Brickner has had a dual role in the healthcare field for the past few years. While she has been a student in the CVTC Nursing Associate Degree program, she’s also been active as a health educator.

She is a member of the Ellsworth Area Ambulance Service as a volunteer EMT and was elected as the service’s training coordinator. In that capacity, she speaks to groups frequently, teaching refresher courses to fellow EMTs.

“I’ve been at it four years last August,” she said of her work as an EMT. “I did a ride-a-long and loved it!”

Of the 39 graduates receiving degrees at the CVTC River Falls campus at the end of the fall term, 32 were nursing students, with the others completing Administrative Professional, Accounting, Business Management and Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement programs. In addition, four students received certificates of General Education Development (GED).

At the Eau Claire campus, 373 graduated in 33 different programs, with 70 nursing graduates being the largest program.

Brickner had long focused on a healthcare career. She started at a university with some required courses, but with difficulty getting into a highly competitive nursing program, switched majors and earned a degree in health promotion with an emphasis on community health. But she didn’t give up the dream of becoming a nurse. She entered the CVTC Nursing program and her background in health education made her a natural to become a peer tutor for her fellow students.

“I have numerous memories of working with students as they overcame struggles with a subject matter,” Brickner said. “Seeing the ‘light bulb come on’ and hearing students say, ‘I finally get it!’ are true reminders of why I like tutoring and being an educator/mentor.”

Brickner also works as an EMS instructor at the Oakdale (Minn.) office of Regions Hospital. She sees a future for herself in nursing education after she passes her boards to become an RN.

“My experience tutoring and helping other students has definitely given me encouragement and a sense of reassurance that a future as a nursing educator would likely be a good fit,” Brickner said. She hopes to work soon in a hospital setting, but adds, “long term, I would like to get my master’s degree in nursing and become an instructor of future nursing students.”

Brickner urged her fellow graduates to go beyond their professions.

“Demonstrate your strengths and strive to be the outstanding individual you have become,” she said. “When you are satisfied, challenge yourself a little more. Become a member of the community in which you live. Use what you have learned at CVTC to better the world around you.”

One of the current nursing instructors, Jennifer Buekema, was the faculty speaker at the ceremony.

“Many of you want to continue your education in your chosen field, and for that I say, ‘good for you.’ If I had given up whenever something was hard, well then I would not be standing here, and I know many of you graduates can say the same thing,” Buekema said.

The guest speaker was Deb Callow, the director of nursing services at Spring Valley Senior Living and Health Care Campus, who told a story to encourage graduates to listen to the stories of others. She told how her first patient as a nurse was an elderly lady, for whom she was to perform a head-to-toe assessment.

“I noticed numbers tattooed on her inner wrists,” Callow said. “I questioned her about them and she told me her story, a story of a young Jewish girl in Nazi Germany. Her parents took her to France and then sent her with nuns to relatives she never met in New York City. She never saw her parents again.

“I learned that day to cherish the life experiences of others and learn from them. I can never imagine what she went through and I will never experience in my life what she did. But what I really learned that day was to listen to the story others have to share, and learn from them,” Callow said.

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