From insightonmfg.com: “Collaborating on success: Colleges, businesses team up on new engineering technology degree” — by MaryBeth Matzek – Input and feedback from regional manufacturers played an integral role in an innovative education program rolling out this fall at 13 educational institutions in the New North.

Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance, a consortium of New North schools, announced plans last year to create a regional bachelor’s degree program in engineering technology. The program allows students to enter at any of the NEW ERA schools and then finish up the program at University of Wisconsin campuses in Green Bay and Oshkosh. The degree program is the first of its kind in Wisconsin and fills an important void for employers.

“These are important skills manufacturers need to fill. We have jobs for students coming out with these degrees,” says Scott Kettler, general manager of Plexus’ manufacturing facilities in Neenah. “It’s been a great collaboration between educational institutions and businesses how they came together to address the need.”

Collaboration also was a must between the participating schools. Led by UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells, who retires in August, Fox Valley Technical College President Susan May and other college leaders, NEW ERA members looked at the available offerings and worked together on creating the new program.

The three new bachelor’s degrees being offered are in electrical engineering technology, environmental engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology. The degrees were approved earlier this year by the UW Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission, opening the door to students to enroll in the program starting this fall. The degrees use programs and classes already in place at participating schools, which created new classes to fill in the gaps.

Employers helped craft the program by participating in listening sessions and advisory committees, says Greg Kleinheinz, associate dean of the College of Letters and Sciences and director of the Environmental Research and Innovation Center at UW-Oshkosh.

“We talked to them and listened to their needs. We worked with them on how to tailor the program and what it should include,” he says.

That kind of feedback is important, Kettler says. “Manufacturers were asked what kind of skills we were looking for and helped develop the curriculum,” he says. “That way, the students coming out will be right for what’s needed.”

The new program differs from current offerings in the New North, Kleinheinz adds. Engineering technicians are more hands-on than a traditional engineer who may be concerned with design, but have more in-depth studies, such as in management, than students who pursue an associate’s degree at a    local technical college.

Kleinheinz predicts there will be two types of students who enroll in the program: those already possessing an associate’s degree from a technical college who are out in the workforce and want to receive their bachelor’s degree; and a traditional student who may start the program at a local technical college or two-year UW school before finishing up in Oshkosh or Green Bay.

“In many cases, I’m guessing we’ll have students coming out of technical colleges with an associate’s degree, get a job and then the employer will help pay for this program so they can further their education and expand their skills,” he says. “It will be a win-win for employer and employee.”

While all program graduates will be in high demand, the ones with the environmental engineering technology degree will especially be sought after since that is a new and growing field, Kleinheinz says. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 14 percent increase in environmental engineering technology positions between 2010 and 2020. Students with that degree can find work in industries outside of manufacturing, including biotechnology, water and wastewater management and agribusiness.

In Wisconsin, only UW-Stout and the Milwaukee School of Engineering offer bachelor’s degrees in engineering technology.

“You’re taking that technical skills base and adding more analytical thinking and problem-solving skills,” Kettler says. “Those are all important skills to have in addition to that applied, hands-on education. It’s great we are able to develop and nurture these skills in the region.”

NEW ERA Members
In the new engineering technology program, students may enter at any of the 13 NEW ERA colleges including: College of the Menominee Nation, Fox Valley Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, University of Wisconsin Extension, UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley, UW-Green Bay, UW-Manitowoc, UW-Marinette, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Sheboygan.

 

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From biztimes.com: “MATC to get $2.6 million from state for worker training” — Milwaukee Area Technical College will get $2.6 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funds from the state to train up to 546 workers for in-demand fields, Gov. Scott Walker announced today.

The funds are part of a $28 million grant package, announced earlier this week, for the state’s technical colleges to train up to 4,908 workers for jobs that employers need to fill.

“The Wisconsin Fast Forward program makes targeted investments in worker training, which will strengthen the workforce and ensure we have workers to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Walker said.

MATC will receive: $687,960 to train 125 students in early childhood education, $652,113 to train 66 students in truck driving, $546,945 to train 307 students in health care to be certified nursing assistants, and $703,500 to train 48 students in CNC manufacturing.

“This grant will provide MATC the opportunity to prepare area residents for employment in high-demand fields in southeastern Wisconsin,” said MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin. “These programs are among our most popular and the funds will allow us to educate, train, and prepare more students for careers that are essential to Wisconsin’s economic vitality.”

From chippewa.com: “State funds to help CVTC cut waiting lists” — EAU CLAIRE – Cassie Blechinger’s future is arriving sooner than expected. She has dreams of becoming a nurse, but has been on the waiting list for the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Nursing-Associate Degree program since last year. Now she will be able to start in the fall term next month, thanks to a state grant designed to get people off waiting lists and into the workforce faster.

In a visit to CVTC’s Health Education Center Friday, July 18, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced the intent to award more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to all 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). The grants will train more than 4,900 workers for in-demand jobs.

CVTC’s share of the grants will be $1,223,540.

“It’s for about 200 more students,” Walker said. “It’s about the students getting the training, not only for a job, but for a career.”

Blechinger, a 2005 Boyceville High School graduate, has been biding her time working as an EMT and in the phlebotomy lab at Mayo Health Systems, but she’s been anxious to get started on a new career, perhaps in pediatric nursing.

“I was scheduled to start the Nursing program in January 2015, Blechinger said. “Now I’ll be able to graduate months early and join the workforce.”

“Our administration has made worker training a top priority, allocating more than $135 million in new resources to equip Wisconsin workers with the skills needed to fill jobs that employers have available,” Walker said. “This substantial investment in the Wisconsin Technical College System will help our top-notch technical colleges build the capacity to train thousands of workers across the state with skills we know are in high demand by employers.”

“It is a vital part of CVTC’s mission to support the workforce needs of the region, and to do so we must constantly keep up with a changing economy,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “The additional funds will increase our ability to respond rapidly to the needs of both our graduates and the employers who want to hire them. Shorter waiting lists in high demand fields serve everyone’s interests.”

Most CVTC programs do not have waiting lists, and there are openings in the fall term for programs in some of the high demand fields. A complete list of the programs with waiting lists that will be positively affected by the grant will be determined by CVTC and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which will administer the grants. Capacity will be added in 100 programs throughout the WTCS system. Training programs cover key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.

“I think it’s great the waiting lists are going to be shorter,” said Blechinger.

“With this announcement, the State of Wisconsin is giving workers the chance to increase their skills and move into a new job or a better job,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson, who also attended Friday’s announcement.

A better job is what Nai Nou Her is hoping for. Her has been expecting to be on the waiting list in the Dental Hygienist program for three years, but now has hopes that the grant will help her move up.

“I just graduated from the Dental Assistant program,” Her said. “I might go to school part time while I’m waiting.” She’s working as a dental assistant, but becoming a hygienist will result in higher pay.

Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year. DWD developed processes to validate wait lists for grant eligibility purposes, evaluate each technical college’s funding request, make award decisions, and monitor taxpayers’ investment. Grant funds can be used for expenses such as course development, instructor wages and purchase of materials. Individual grant awards will be announced for each technical college over the next two weeks.

Funds for the grants were allocated in legislation Walker signed into law in March as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative. The legislation allocated an additional $35.4 million in funds to the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program, with the funds for this grant being part of that.

From waow.com: “NTC gets two million dollar grant from Governor Walker” — North Central Technical College in Wausau received more than $2 million Friday for its diesel transportation program.

Governor Scott Walker awarded the money to the school. It’s part of the state’s fast forward technical college grants. The grant will also go toward its welding program.

The NTC president says these programs will help students be better prepared for the real world.

“They’re going to have a better quality of life, they’re going to have a strong education, they’re going to have high technical skills in demand and make a very good salary and they’re going to contribute back to their community and to the economic vitality of our region,” said Lori Weyers, NTC’s president.

The school was chosen for the grant through an application. NTC’s president says the grants will help provide a total of 160 jobs.

From jsonline.com: “State technical colleges to share $28 million in grants to train workers for high-demand jobs” — The state’s 16 technical colleges will share $28 million in grants to train more than 4,900 workers for jobs in high-demand fields, Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday.

The Wisconsin Fast Forward grants, which were created by law in March with bipartisan support in the Legislature, will be administered by the Department of Workforce Development.

The grants are intended to add capacity to 100 programs at all 16 technical colleges and accommodate up to 4,908 additional students in training programs in key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.

Grant funds can be used for expenses such as course development, instructor wages, and purchase of consumable materials. They cannot be used for financial aid, tuition, or capital improvements.

Individual grant awards will be announced at each technical college over the next two weeks.

Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year.

The Department of Workforce Development developed objective, data-driven measurement tools and processes to validate wait lists for grant eligibility purposes, evaluate each technical college’s funding request, make award decisions, and monitor taxpayers’ investment, according to the governor’s office.

“This substantial investment in the Wisconsin Technical College System will help our top-notch technical colleges build the capacity to train thousands of workers across the state with skills we know are in high demand by employers,” Walker said in a prepared statement.

Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said the technical college system is energized “not only by the investment in our strong partnership with DWD, but also by the confidence in our technical colleges to deliver on these grants.”

The legislation Walker signed into law in March as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative calls for allocating a total of $35.4 million to the Wisconsin Forward worker training program with a focus on three areas:

· Reduction of waits lists at Wisconsin technical colleges for high-demand fields;

· Collaborative projects between high schools, technical colleges, businesses, and other partners to increase opportunities for high school pupils to earn industry-recognized credentials; and

· Enhancing the employment opportunities of workers with disabilities.

The Department of Workforce Development already has awarded more than $2.1 million in grants to train high school students in school-to-work programs, and is currently seeking grant applications with up to $1 million available to train workers with disabilities.

From jsonline.com: “Milwaukee Housing Authority OKs new technology training center” —The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee announced on Wednesday the creation of a $1.2 million technology training center, the first program to be developed outside the walls of its many public housing projects.

Antonio Perez, executive director of the housing authority, said the new center would be at the Adult Learning Center and would be operated in partnership with Milwaukee Area Technical College, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and others.

“We want to use housing as a platform to continue to be relevant to those inside and outside the walls of our housing units,” Perez said at the housing authority’s annual meeting, held under a tent in the parking lot of the Adult Learning Center, 1916 N. 4th St.

The new tech facility, called the Milwaukee iCenter, will be built in space on the second floor of the Adult Learning Center, which leases the building from St. Francis Church across the street. It is scheduled to open in 2015.

The center is financed with a $1.2 million grant that the housing authority received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

MATC will provide instruction, case management and tech support services at the center. Job readiness and youth educational activities will be provided by the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, Milwaukee Public Schools, the housing authority and others.

The center will blend classroom instruction with online advanced courses so that those who use the center can develop and improve their technology skills, prepare for jobs and use the training to potentially continue on to MATC for additional credentials and certifications in the tech industry.

Once completed, the center will be open to adult learners who attend the center, residents of housing authority projects, including nearby Hillside and Lapham Park, and others.

Perez said the housing authority looked for a place to house the tech center and decided instead to team up with the Adult Learning Center, which already teaches adult educational classes and has a staff and corps of an estimated 100 volunteers.

With decreasing federal money, the housing authority needs to leverage the government funds it receives and work with others in the community to provide services, he said.

The Adult Learning Center has been working with adults for 34 years and has helped more than 350 get their GED, said Herb Hayden, director.

“This new iCenter will bridge the technology divide and make adult learners more marketable,” he said of the new partnership with the housing authority.

The Adult Learning Center gets 90% of its money from foundations and private sources, with MATC providing teachers and support, he said.

Cynthia Dalton, 43, told those gathered for the meeting that she first went to the center in 2008 to work on her GED and managed to get it in 2013. But in the process, she got help with a hearing disability and housing, she told those gathered for the meeting.

While she was attending classes at the center, a volunteer noticed her speech and hearing difficulty and suggested she be tested, Hayden said in an interview.

“Since I was about 6 years old I’ve had speech and hearing problems, but I didn’t think they were so bad,” Dalton said.

Audiology tests showed she had about a 70% hearing loss, Hayden said.

“A hearing loss can impact and slow down learning,” he said.

Dalton said, “I was frustrated.”

After the tests and the diagnosis, a center volunteer paid for a hearing aid for Dalton, Hayden said.

“It’s made a huge difference,” she said. “I could hear and understand.”

Dalton said she also encountered homelessness and the center helped her to find shelter and later a place to live.

Today she’s studying at MATC and wants to be a nurse. She’s also learning sign language because she said she hopes to help those with hearing disabilities.

From wisopinion.com: “A vision for 21st century tech colleges” — By Rebecca Kleefisch – We should celebrate our sons and daughters who become nursing assistants and machinists just as much as those who become lawyers and doctors. That was my message this weekend at Waukesha County Technical College’s commencement ceremony, when hundreds of students walked across the stage and stepped into new careers and new opportunities.

Governor Walker said the same thing this past January in his State of the State address. He and I know that the twin drivers of our state’s economy are manufacturing and agriculture. Both of those industries rely heavily on technical colleges for expertise and employees. A strong Wisconsin economy needs strong tech colleges in every part of the state, staffed by top-notch teachers and filled with cutting-edge technology. Our tech colleges are a good investment for students, a good partner for employers, and a good value for taxpayers.

The students graduating from WCTC are entering into careers offering the promise of prosperity. An associate’s degree graduate in Aircraft Electronics can get jobs with a starting salary of $47,000. A one-year technical diploma in brick-laying and masonry leads to jobs with a median starting salary of almost $43,000. A dental hygiene grad starts with a salary just shy of $50,000. In fact, for the past 15 years, the tech colleges have placed at least 86 percent of their graduates into jobs within six months of graduation. In other words, tech colleges are equipping our workers with the skills they need to get the high-paying jobs they want and the economy offers.

One reason these jobs pay so well is because our Wisconsin employers are actively searching for employees with the skills and experience to fill jobs across our economy, especially in our agriculture, health care, and manufacturing sectors. It’s vitally important that technical colleges gear their services to the jobs available in their communities today and in the future. That’s why I was so impressed by the Fab Lab at Gateway Tech, for instance, which offers itself as a resource to students, faculty, and local manufacturers to try new ideas and products.

Tech colleges need to stay connected to both the community and to the state as a whole. The Governor’s Blueprint for Prosperity, which invested the state’s $911 million surplus, included $406 million in property tax relief through the tech colleges. At Madison Area Technical College, for instance, state funding jumped from 10 percent to nearly half of MATC’s budget. With the property tax caps in place, that will drop MATC’s local tax levy by almost half, saving the owner of an average Madison home about $200.

We need to continue investing in our technical colleges because of the crucial role they play in our communities and our economy. For instance, given all the technical advances discovered by our tech college staff and students, I’d like to see new programs that help commercialize these innovations as new products and processes for use in business.

My address at WCTC on Saturday was my 37th stop at a technical college since taking office. All those visits reflect the high priority that Governor Walker and I place on our tech colleges. Commencement provides each of us, as friends, family, and neighbors of the graduates, an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to appreciate their new careers building a stronger Wisconsin.

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