From “New advanced manufacturing training center in Milton” — Milton — “This is going to be a state of the art facility,” said Gary Kohn with Blackhawk Technical College.

Right now, it’s hard to see with all of the construction. But you can call it a sneak peek for nearly 230 high school students in Rock County.

Kohn is Wednesday’s tour guide. He’s showing off the college’s new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton.

“We want them to understand the programs a little bit better, so they see what kind of possibilities there are for their education,” said Kohn.

Cory Thomson, is a senior in high school, and among the 230 students, checking out the new construction.

“I can just imagine all the machines around there and all of the cool equipment that’s going to be there for kids to use and learn on,” said Thomson.

In six weeks, Thomson is graduating, and will pursue a career in manufacturing.

“You could make upwards of $75,000 to $100,000 a year,” said Kohn.

A booming business, and one in-demand. That’s the message Kohn is trying to hammer home to the future job seekers.

“All of the manufacturing programs would tell you they are fast growing, and there are many many jobs in need,” said Kohn.

Phase I of the building will be done, and open, by August. Making next school year the first that anyone can sign up.

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From “Blackhawk Technical College offers new Emergency Medical Technician course” – Blackhawk Technical College is offering a new basic Emergency Medical Technician-Basic course over two semesters, the first time a Wisconsin Technical College System school has received approval to split the five-credit, 180-hour course into two sections.

The new arrangement will see the EMT-Basic course divided into a two-credit summer school offering and a three-credit class in the fall semester. The summer school class begins June 10th and runs through July 29th . This class will be held on Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

The fall semester class will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. Blackhawk also will continue to offer the five-credit, EMT basic course on Mondays and Wednesdays mornings at the Central Campus and evenings at the Monroe Campus during the fall semester.

Registration for the two-tiered course and the five-credit course begins April 28th. The courses prepare students to take the national certification test for EMT-Basic.

“We listened to feedback from our students,’’ said David Peterson, the Fire Services Training Coordinator at Blackhawk. “We learned that some students in the Fire Protection Technician Program were going beyond the two years in which the program is intended to be completed because of the academic and clinical needs of the EMT Fundamentals course.’’

The two-credit, 54-hour summer class will cover cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, airways, anatomy, hazmat response, lifting and moving patients, incident command and other technical information.

The three-credit, 126-hour fall class includes a 10-hour clinical as well as the handling of cervical and spine injuries, burn injuries, heart and breathing related problems, shock and other trauma injuries.

From “Edgerton and Milton High School students to get sneak peak for new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center” – Some 240 high school students – 90 from Edgerton High School and 150 from Milton High School – will receive a sneak preview of Blackhawk Technical College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center in Milton this Wednesday as part of an encompassing tour of Blackhawk’s facilities and manufacturing programs.

Milton students will get the first taste of their new neighbor starting at 8:30 a.m. After the 90-minute tour, the Milton students will head to Blackhawk’s Central Campus, where they will have the opportunity to learn about eight of the school’s Advanced Manufacturing programs.

The Edgerton students will reverse that route, first heading to the Central Campus in the morning, before heading to the Advanced Manufacturing Center at 12:30 p.m. for an afternoon tour.

Students from all four years of high school will be represented at the event.

Phase one of the Advanced Manufacturing Center is set to open in August for the fall semester of the 2014-2015 school year. The second phase of the facility will be completed in the summer of 2015.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to highlight our programs and how they will fit in at the new facility,’’ said Barrett Bell, Blackhawk’s Director of Enrollment Services. “In addition, these two schools and their students will get first hand exposure to the variety of our Advanced Manufacturing programs and the new facility.’’

While at the new Milton Campus facility, students will spend 25 minutes in three sessions – a tour of the building, an admissions seminar and a panel discussion on the Advanced Manufacturing programs.

While at Blackhawk’s Central Campus, students will have the opportunity to investigate current facilities for one of two tracks of programs.

The first track covers a new Blackhawk program — Manufacturing Information Technology Specialist – plus Automated Systems, HVAC-R and Computer Numeric Control Technician.

The second track will introduce students to programs in Industrial Maintenance, Welding, Mechanical Design and Electrical Power Distribution.

From “Demand for IT skills signals next advance in modern manufacturing” – By Jennifer Sereno — Wisconsin has been staking its claim as a center of skilled manufacturing since the 1860s. And Blackhawk Technical College intends to help the state build on that legacy for generations to come with a groundbreaking program to develop the new workforce skills Wisconsin manufacturers need to remain competitive in the global economy.

While some of the state’s earliest skilled manufacturing businesses emerged in Milwaukee — steam engine producer Allis Co. (later Allis Chalmers) was founded in 1861 — manufacturers in Rock County were not far behind.

Thanks to the arrival of rail lines in the 1850s as well as the proximity to Chicago, Rock County’s  starting with an iron works, a paper mill and agricultural equipment producers. Parker Pen Co. which ultimately became a global pen manufacturer, was founded in Janesville in 1888.

More recently, Rock County has weathered a number of manufacturing-related challenges, including closure of General Motors assembly plant. However, manufacturing remains the county’s third-largest source of employment, accounting for some 14 percent of jobs, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.

Blackhawk Technical College plays an important role in maintaining the region’s skilled manufacturing leadership. With locations in Janesville, Beloit and Monroe, the technical college offers more than 75 programs that can lead to associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships in fields such as business, manufacturing, health sciences, computers and more.

Those offerings will expand in an important way this fall when Blackhawk launches a two-year program that trains students as information technology specialists for advanced manufacturing jobs. The program will complement the technical college’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center, the first phase of which is scheduled to open in Milton this fall.

“The face of manufacturing is changing nationally, regionally and locally,” says Gary Kohn, Blackhawk’s marketing and communications manager. “Modernization is critical for survival. And what’s happening with respect to modernization is improved techniques in the plants – new quality management systems, robotics, other intelligent systems.”

In the modern manufacturing environment, skilled workers are needed for more than just operating the increasingly complex machines, Kohn says. They need to be able to integrate, program and fix the machines, as well.

Today’s manufacturing equipment is being linked together through sophisticated computer networks and operated from remote workstations. Kohn says the shift to this new, lean environment puts a premium on workers skilled in information technology with knowledge of both hardware and software.

College officials are quick to credit regional business and community leaders who serve on various advisory groups for identifying the need for such cutting-edge training. Among them is SSI Technologies of Janesville, a privately held company that designs and manufactures sensors, sensor-based monitoring systems, digital gauges and powdered-metal components for automotive and industrial applications.

“Our instructors are constantly getting feedback and seeking input” from industry, workers and community members, Kohn says. “We’ve heard about the need from our community advisory groups … This is going to be a program that should really gain a lot of traction because these jobs are applicable in so many areas.”

In developing new educational offerings that align with the emerging needs of the manufacturing sector, Blackhawk Technical College is bettering opportunities for its students while building workforce capacity for the future. If history shows anything, Kohn says, it’s that manufacturers and workers need to be adaptable.

“We use that word ‘adaptability’ with a lot of our programs,” he says. “We want our welders to be familiar with precision machining and we want our industrial mechanics to be able to weld. Our HVAC students don’t just fix air conditioning units; sometimes they have to build things requiring machining.”

If Wisconsin is to maintain its heritage as a global center of skilled manufacturing in the New Economy, advanced training such as the manufacturing information technology program offered by Blackhawk Technical College will be key.

From “YouthBuild program helps young people develop skills” – In honor of National YouthBuild Day, which is being observed today, those at Community Action Inc.’s Beloit Fresh Start program have been celebrating its impact in the community and opening its doors to the community.

On Wednesday, those at Community Action were providing tours of housing projects FreshStart students are working in the Merrill neighborhood. And to celebrate Janeville’s 12 administrative personnel from Community Action moving to the Beloit facility at the Eclipse Center there was a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. followed by an Business After Hours event at 5 p.m.

Since the program launched in 2006, there have been 88 graduates and an 80 percent success rate, according to Gary Wagner, program manager.

In the program, students age 18 to 21 who have dropped out of high school can get re-enrolled to attend classes at the Community Action Pathways Center to obtain their diploma and obtain job skills. Students have three career path certifications they can choose from — certified nursing assistant, business and customer service or construction, said FreshStart Academic Supervisor Linda Fair.

Fair said students can obtain their high school diplomas with the chance to walk across the stage in the graduation ceremony by taking online classes.

Next year the business and customer service certification will be replaced by a welding certificate. Efforts are also under way for the welding program to be held at Beloit Memorial High School’s newly remodeled career and technical education area.

In light of the successful programming, Candelaria Diaz and Ike Lee are visiting Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. today to speak about the need for funding for YouthBuild USA. The Fresh Start program of Community Action is funded partially by YouthBuild USA and is up to renew its grant nationally. Diaz and Lee graduated from the program and are now program assistants working through AmeriCorps.

In Beloit one of the most popular career paths for the Fresh Start program has been in construction. A few years ago Community Action purchased more than 17 properties in the Merrill neighborhood. Students in the FreshStart construction program worked on rehabbing the homes as they gained work skills. The homes are then resold to qualified low income families through the Merrill Housing Initiative.

FreshStart Construction instructor Deitra Green said students graduate from her classes with a pre-apprenticeship certificate from the nationally-recognized Home Building Institute. Green, an electrician with more than 20 years of experience in construction, said students completing her classes know how to use tools as well as the basics of building and fixing homes. On Wednesday, she was helping her students work on a home at 1346 Yates Ave. Many of them were learning the fine art of dry wall installation.

The students in Fresh Start’s construction program work on rehabbing a home to sell each spring.

Tailor Laidig, 18, is one of the students who will graduate with a certified nursing assistant certification. Laidig, who had her son in tenth grade, said she couldn’t continue her education because of childcare. At the time she only had 6.25 credits and needed 24 credits to graduate.

However, now her son is enrolled nearby in Head Start and she is able to attend classes at FreshStart. The program has also helped her get assistance with an apartment and transportation. Once Laidig graduates, she hopes to continue on to college to become a pediatric nurse while using her CNA certification to get a job as she gets through school. Laidig is currently attending some of her classes nearby at the Blackhawk Technical College site in the Eclipse Center and doing clinical work in Brodhead before she will take her state board exam.

Wagner said there were more than 70 applications for the program which can only accept 21 students. He noted that applicants must pass a thorough interview process and a 2-week “mental toughness” component to demonstrate if they are ready to fully commit themselves to the program.

Community Action is an 100 percent local, not-for-profit organization, offering a broad spectrum of community programs aimed at preventing and reducing poverty in Rock and Walworth counties. It operates the Fresh Start program, offers child care, at-risk youth programming, teen parent support, women’s health care, senior benefits counseling, home ownership programs, affordable housing units, home weatherization and rehab, assistance in dealing with a housing crisis, food for area pantries and shelter for the homeless.


From “Blackhawk Technical College: To offer new Manufacturing Information Technology program” – Blackhawk Technical College is taking the next step into the future of advanced manufacturing with a new two-year program aimed at training students as information technology specialists in a manufacturing setting.

The program, which begins in September for the 2014-2015 school year, will provide hands-on training with the computer hardware and software that is increasingly needed to keep manufacturing systems operating at peak efficiency.

“The curriculum is being created to train students in the application of computer applications and networking of the intelligent systems now finding their way to the factory floor,’’ said Dr. Tom Eckert, president of Blackhawk Technical College. “Increasingly, machines will be networked, programmed and controlled from remote stations throughout the factory, and a specialist, familiar with the manufacturing environment, will be needed to connect, monitor and repair these computer networks.’’

The new course of study is a perfect fit for BTC’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center, which is scheduled to open next fall in Milton. The Manufacturing Information Technology Specialist program will begin next fall at BTC’s Central Campus and then move to the Advanced Manufacturing Center for the fall semester of the 2015-16 school year.

“The face of manufacturing at the national, regional and local level has changed from what existed only a few years ago,’’ Dr. Eckert noted in a paper on the Advanced Manufacturing Center.

“Manufacturers, in order to stay competitive, have modernized with process improvement techniques, quality management systems and increased automation (robotics and other “intelligent” systems). Manufacturers report that such modernization is critical in order to stay competitive at the global level—an environment that is increasingly lean, automated and technical.’’

Ed Scoville, an instructor in the Computer Service Technician program, is the lead instructor in the new program.

“We are looking to deliver an IT program for the manufacturing environment,’’ Scoville explained. “It will bridge the gap between industrial maintenance and information technology.’’

A diploma will be earned after completing 63 credits that includes nine credits in the general education curriculum. Scoville said there are openings for as many as 17 students this fall.

For more information, Scoville may be reached at or (608) 757-7645.

Registration for fall classes will begin in May. Additional information also may be obtained through the BTC Admissions Department at (608) 743-4463 or the Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation Division at (608) 757-7628.

From “Walker signs plan at BTC” – By Shaun Zinck – Gov. Scott Walker signed a $35 million bill at Blackhawk Technical College on Monday morning to help fund technical college programs and train more workers in advanced manufacturing.

Walker said the bill would affect three areas in the state: bring down the waiting lists on high-demand areas of studies at technical colleges; offer more opportunities for college and high school partnerships for dual credits; and help people with disabilities find jobs in Wisconsin.

“We go out on campuses and we see what’s happening,” Walker said. “We see the relevance we talked about that are connecting not only students, but employers here in Janesville and in Rock County and all over the state of Wisconsin.”

Morna Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System, said technical colleges in Wisconsin focus on the opportunities for students to train in specialized skills, and it also helps employers have access to those workers to stay competitive in the marketplace.

“This new prosperity grant will provide another tool for technical colleges to provide help with that purpose and mission to make Wisconsin the greatest economic engine in the world,” she said.

The bill appropriates the funds to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, which will then grant the money to the technical colleges in the state. Walker said the grants are not just workforce development, but economic development, by helping technical colleges “buy down” waiting lists for popular manufacturing programs.

“You hear time and time again from employers that, ‘Not only do I need help filling that high-skilled welder, CNC operator, machinist … but I actually have the capacity to add more work if I can fill the positions I have,’” the governor said. “So it’s not just about workforce development, it’s about opening the door so our employers can create more jobs going forward.”

The partnerships between technical colleges and school districts are also very valuable, Walker said. He brought up his recent tour to the Beloit Memorial High School Technical Education Programming Space.

“It was a great example when you see the technology incorporated on campus right there at a high school,” Walker said. “One of the exciting things we were seeing is young people that are not only excited about what they are learning, but earning credits for high school graduation, and then have that apply to going on to pursuing the rest of what they need for their career at a technical college.”

Helping people with disabilities find employment is also important because no one can “be on the sidelines,” Walker said.

“With this bill we are setting money aside to expand programs like Project Search, which helps young people with disabilities start to explore what their abilities are, and plug them into those as they transition from high school to the workplace,” he said. “We want to help employers find the unique abilities of people who are otherwise identified as having disabilities. This is not a charity program. This is to find their unique abilities so you have an asset for the employer and the employee. It’s a win-win.”

All three parts will help the economy in Wisconsin grow, Walker said.

“By filling key positions, and helping companies know that when they choose to expand and grow here in the State of Wisconsin, they are going to have a steady, strong supply of well-trained, well-prepared, well-educated, hardworking employees that will make them prosperous for many years to come,” he said.

After the bill signing Walker spoke to the media, and when asked, he declined to answer detailed questions about whether he was aware a secret email system existed in the Milwaukee County executive’s office when he held the position, or whether he personally used that system.

“I’ve pointed out the district attorney spent multiple years looking at that and chose to end the report last March,” he said. “I don’t really need to go through and examine all the details. I’m not going to go through things of the past. The district attorney looked at it and chose not to act on anyone else and I think it speaks for itself.”

From “BTC’s manufacturing facility takes shape quickly in Milton” – By Shaun Zinck – MILTON — The new Blackhawk Technical College advanced manufacturing facility in Milton is on schedule and on budget, said college President Tom Eckert.

A year ago in February the college announced it had leased a building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs.

Work began on half of the building in the fall with plans to move three programs by the 2014-15 academic year. Eckert said about 50,000 square feet of the 105,000-square-foot building is currently being remodeled.

“We are putting in general classroom in the front of the building for general education course. Also that is where the office complex will be located for staff,” he said. “Each of the labs will also have their own specialized classrooms.”

Once work is complete this summer, equipment will be transferred over to the building just in time for students in the welding, industrial maintenance and precision machining (CNC) to occupy that half of the building this fall. Work on the second half will continue during the academic year, Eckert said.

The other programs — heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration technician, mechanical design technology, industrial engineering technician and computer systems technology — will start holding classes in the 2015-16 academic year.

Gary Kohn, marketing and communications manager for the college, said the new space will bring all the programs closer together to allow for more collaborative projects between the students.

“So you might have a CNC student working with a welding student working with an industrial maintenance student,” he said.

Kohn said a lab station will be built as a connection between another building during the second phase of construction and renovation.

The entire renovation cost will be about $12 million, Eckert said. He said nothing unexpected has come up during the first phase of renovations.

“They did a really great job predicting exactly what it would take to do the job,” he said.

The welding program at BTC has been in high demand as of late. The college had to add a third welding section in order to increase the number of students it could admit into the program. The college currently has about 105 welding students in three different sections. The new facility will double the capacity for the programs, however, that doesn’t mean double the students just yet, Eckert said.

“We don’t know how many students (the building will hold),” he said. “We are still in decision-mode on what shifts we will have for each program.”

The college entered into a 10-year lease at the location, and can exercise two five-year renewals. Last year, the college said it would pay about $1.47 per square foot for the lease space or about $155,125 for the first year. The second year the rate increases to about $2.88 per square foot or about $302,688 per year.

Prior to choosing the Milton location the college looked into locating the facility at the Ironworks campus in Beloit. Funding the project proved too costly, Eckert said at the time.

From “Police recruits aim to improve community relations” – By Geoff Bruce – The most recent recruits of Blackhawk Technical College’s Police Recruit Academy are stretching their legs and building some bridges.

The first ever “Miles for a Message” campaign is the brainchild of the most recently graduated class of academy recruits, Class 13-64.

“The recruits decided that they wanted to do something. These people want to become law enforcement officers, not just study about it,” Blackhawk Technical College Recruit Academy Coordinator Doug Anderson said.

Miles for a Message will take place April 5 and consist of two halves. The first will be a relay run beginning at 8 a.m. consisting of many runners teaming up to conquer the 26.2-mile course. The morning jaunt will start from Blackhawk Technical College’s Central Campus, 6004 S. County Road G, between Beloit and Janesville, and will head south to Beloit before winding through the city to pass by nearly all of its schools. The run will conclude at the Rotary River Center in Riverside Park in Beloit.

Following the morning run will be an afternoon organization fair. The fair will run from approximately 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Rotary River Center. The purpose of the fair is to introduce citizens to all of the organizations in the area that may be able to help in difficult times. Police academy graduate Bryanne Tudor says that one ultimate goal of the event is to promote good relations between citizens and law enforcement.

“(My class) all talked about it and we realized a lot of underprivileged people don’t really know the resources available to them,” Tudor said. “As law enforcement, it’s important to us for people to know their resources.”

There is no charge for organizations wishing to take part in the event. For more information on either portion of the event, interested parties can contact Tudor at 608-436-6869.

So far, a handful of organizations have signed up to participate in the organization fair following the run including the City of Beloit, Town of Beloit, and Town of Turtle Police Departments, as well as the Rock County Sheriff’s Department.

“I think that each generation of police officers will see this grow in importance. There can no longer be that disconnection of guys just riding around in squad cars and only connecting when someone’s in need or in trouble,” Anderson said. “We need to get officers out of the car and taking the time to interact with people.”

The event’s first half will also raise money for two Stateline Area organizations via pledges. Runners who sign up to run a leg of the 26.2-mile relay will collect at least $75 in pledges and will be able to sign up to run as much, or as little, as they want.

Benefiting from the funds raised by the pledges will be Project 16:49 and the Merrill Community Center.

“Project 16:49 has really taken off, especially with the opening of their new house. I think that they tackle an issue we all need to be aware of,” Tudor said. “As for Merrill, it’s just been a great organization for so long and we really wanted to show support for it.”

Project 16:49 opened its first house to provide long-term residence for homeless teens last month. Executive Director Tammy DeGarmo says that things with the Robin House are going well so far.

“We’ve had almost everything we need for the house donated to us. We’ve had so many people want to volunteer and help out,” DeGarmo said. “We’re excited for this because it’s not easy to take the time to organize an event and right now we’re very busy with the Robin House and helping our other kids. So to have them put this on for us is wonderful.”

Merrill Community Center Executive Director Regina Dunkin recently participated in a panel at Beloit College regarding the incarceration problem in Wisconsin. Prior to that forum, she made points echoing Tudor’s desires to build bridges between law enforcement and citizens. She stood by those remarks Monday.

“I think it’s another opportunity to show the humanity of police officers,” Dunkin said. “Often we hear from kids that they have negative ideas about police because they’ve gotten in trouble or their parents have gotten in trouble. This is a way to change that perception and show that police officers are people too.”

Like DeGarmo, Dunkin was flattered by the decision by the recruits’ to make Merrill Community Center one of the beneficiaries.

“It’s just wonderful. We don’t always have people in the community willing to take the initiative on things like this for us,” Dunkin said. “It’s really going to help us in continuing to serve the children and families of the center.”

Participants who wish to have a running buddy can sign up together. Runners are not responsible for finding and fielding an entire team to run the 26.2 miles.

“Once we have all the sign-ups, we’ll sort people into teams to make sure that the distances that people want to run add up to 26.2 miles,” Tudor said. “If you have someone you want to run with you can write that down and we’ll make sure you get to.”

The run will pass by over a dozen schools in the Beloit area including Turner High School, Rock County Christian High School, and Beloit Memorial High School.

Throughout the morning, teams will go over the Rock River a couple of times. But whether it be at White, Henry, or Grand Avenue, if Tudor and her colleagues have their way, there will be plenty more crossings on a lot more bridges in the days to come.

From “Blackhawk Tech: More info needed before pursuing referendum efforts” – Those responding to a recent survey mailed out on behalf of Blackhawk Technical College want more information before they can decide if they support a referendum for a tax increase.

More information needs to be provided on how the college is funded through local taxpayer dollars, tuition and state aid before moving ahead with a referendum, according to a news release from Blackhawk Technical College.

“The community survey has told us that we are vital in preparing today’s students for career success and that we play a critical role in providing the highly skilled workforce our communities need to grow and prosper,” Dr. Thomas Eckert, president of Blackhawk said in his message to the District Board on Thursday evening.

Blackhawk Technical College recently mailed a survey to 8,000 taxpayers in Green and Rock counties to seek input on pursuing an April referendum.

“However, it was clear that many of our respondents are unable to explain BTC’s operational budget,” Eckert said, “We feel more comfortable taking time to increase public understanding so voters feel more informed to make a decision.”

Officials from BTC say that because of reduced state aid, state revenue caps in place since 2010 and current cost projections, a shortfall of approximately $3.5 million is predicted for its 2014-2015 budget. Since 2010, Blackhawk has reduced annual operating expenses by more than $2.3 million.

“It was impressive to learn how many residents the college has impacted,” Bill Foster, President of School Perceptions, said in his report to the BTC District Board, “In fact over 50 percent of the respondents have attended at least one class at BTC.”

The BTC District Board will review the necessary reductions later in the spring. A referendum in the 2014 fall election is still under consideration.

A recent legislative change now permits technical colleges to seek funding support from their district communities through an operational referendum.

In November, the BTC Foundation hired School Perceptions LLC to conduct the surveys and assist in data gathering. School Perceptions is based in Slinger, WI, and is recognized for its expertise in gathering information that aids education institutions and their policy boards in their public policy pursuits.

Blackhawk Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System. BTC has five campus locations in Monroe, Beloit and Janesville, Wis. offering more than 50 programs including two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, BTC is a major provider of customized training and technical assistance for the Rock and Green County business community. More than half of all adults living in Wisconsin have accessed the technical colleges for education and training during the last decade.

From “BTC: Either cuts or $4M referendum” – by Hillary Gavan - A $4 million referendum for Blackhawk Technical Colleges (BTC) annual budget would enable the college to offer more career pathways to job seekers and more skilled workers for businesses looking to hire, according to BTC President Tom Eckert, Vice President of Finance & Operations Renea Ranguette and Foundation and Alumni Association Director Kelli Cameron.

In a recent interview, BTC officials explained how enrollment has increased while state funds have been cut causing an estimated annual budget shortfall of $3.5 million. The voters have a choice to either move forward with a referendum or reduce programs and services.

“Our only other option is to shrink,” Ranguette said.

The proposed referendum would mean a tax increase of $37 for a home with an assessed value of $100,000, translating to $3.08 per month. The board would have to approve the potential referendum by the Jan. 16 board meeting in order to get it on the ballot for the April 1 election.

In 2009, Eckert said enrollment increased 54 percent at BTC when General Motors (GM) closed. During the years that followed BTC increased certain programs to meet student needs while making a total of $3.2 million in cuts to services, programs and personnel.

“It was a combination of offering more of the right programs our community needed while making reductions to those that weren’t in high demand,” Cameron said.

Now, in 2013, enrollment remains relatively high as state funding has been cut. For example, the 2011-13 state budget reduced Wisconsin Technical College System aid by 30 percent, reducing state aid to BTC by $1.5 million. And the local operating property tax levy was frozen in 2010.

“Our increased enrollment was bigger and longer than we thought,” Eckert said.

Eckert also noted that there still are many part-time students enrolled at BTC who may be under-employed and are trying to gain more skills as the economy still recovers.

During the time of the enrollment boon, Eckert said many positive changes were made to better address the educational needs of students and employers, which BTC hopes to continue. For example, during its increase BTC implemented more comprehensive student services such as tutoring, advising and career counseling.

“We thought they were key things to students staying in school, and things employers told us they needed,” Eckert said.

An example of an expanded program is welding, which now is offered from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily and on Saturday to push out welders as quickly as possible due to a welder shortage.

BTC officials also want to keep their focus on health occupational offerings as well including a pharmacy technician program.

Although some programs and services have been increased, Eckert stressed how BTC has scaled back other programs. Employees have increased their benefit contributions and personnel have been reduced. For example, about 30 employees brought on via two-year contracts during the enrollment increase were not kept on board.

However, there are more staff overall since 2007 to support additional student services. Eckert noted about 80 percent of the operational budget is for staff salary and benefits.

The following are examples of operational savings: closed aviation program, $370,000; reduced the size of the electrical power distribution program, eliminated leadership program, and office systems tech position, $270,000; closed day care center, $72,000; increased employee contribution to Wisconsin Retirement System, $1 million; made personnel changes through attrition, $372,000; and cuts to operational accounts and activities, $169,000.

Historically, Eckert said BTC has received less local revenue on a per-student basis than all other small technical colleges in the state. BTC has 2,774 full time equivalent (FTE) students, second only to Moraine Park and Wisconsin Indianhead in its peer group of small technical colleges. However, BTC is eighth in its operational costs per FTE at only $11,745, compared to the average of about $14,000 among its peers.

“Even thought its the third largest among its peers, it charges the least per student,” Eckert said.

He added that the state sets the amount of tuition BTC can charge prohibiting the college from generating additional funds that way.

The Blackhawk Technical College Foundation has sent out surveys via mail and e-mail to more than 12,000 residents in Rock and Green counties to gauge community support for a potential referendum. On Dec. 19 the company conducting the surveys — School Perceptions — will present findings to the BTC Board in an open forum at 6 p.m. in the Board Room at the Central Campus’s administration building.

Eckert maintains it’s critical for BTC to continue its current programming to keep the local economy strong.

“We are a player in attracting businesses,” Eckert said.

He said for every tax dollar spent, communities get about $1.40 back in terms of what students spend. However, some figures put the figure as high as $14 back because of a higher educated populace which leads to a better healthcare, lower crime rats and less reliance on local taxing sources.

From “BMHS fairs expose students to career success ingredients” – Beloit Memorial High School was buzzing with activity on Thursday morning as the school held its first Wisconsin Education Fair in the field house and first Annual Career and Technical Education Fair in the Barkin Arena.

Juniors and seniors had a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education required to obtain them.

The Wisconsin Education Fair (WEF) featured four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. BMHS school counselor Erin Wolf said it was the first time WEF, the largest educational fair in Wisconsin, came to Beloit. Those at BMHS had tried for two years to get the school to be one of the approved sites. On Thursday, Wolf said there were 102 post-secondary options represented including two-year and four-year schools in addition to the military and cosmetology schools.

Representatives from universities and colleges from Iowa, Alabama, Minnesota, North Dakota and other states were represented.

BMHS senior Heather Miller, interested in biology and astronomy, was checking out a booth from Northland College, a small school in Ashland, Wis. She said she liked the idea of a college with classes as small as 12-14 students. She said having schools from across the state and country was a great idea.

“I don’t have to go visit all of them. To come here is pretty helpful,” she said.

Students Erica Dominguez-Martinez, Ann McKee and Kaitlyn Rivas were chatting with University of Wisconsin-Platteville Admission Advisor Katharine Caywood about their interests in psychology, foreign languages, animal science and business degrees.

Kaitlyn said she was interested in Platteville because of it’s forensic science investigation major as she hopes to become a coroner or medical examiner. Caywood told her Platteville also offers internships at the Rockford, Ill., Coroner’s Office.

Wolf said the fair was a great success, and that afterward school counselors were preparing to make individual contact with all the seniors to help them work on their college application processes.

Businesses involved in manufacturing, construction, welding, information systems, graphic arts, even tourism and hospitality were invited to set up a booth at the Career and Technical Education Fair. And on Thursday some were getting some hands-on experience.

Blackhawk Technical College Culinary Arts instructor and executive pastry chef Katie Thomas’s table was a hit with students as she offered them the opportunity to make little swan-shaped cream puffs. She said it was a great way to engage with students.

“Students feel like they’ve made something, and it gets their creative juices flowing,” she said.

Heather Warne, a human resource generalist, with Prent Thermoforming out of Janesville, said her company packages medical components. There is a strong need for engineers as well as machine operators as well as IT, finance and human resource professionals. She said students who come out of high school with some automotive training can be easily trained to work on machines.

University of Wiscoinsin-Platteville Professor of Electrical Engineering Dale Buechler, Ph.D., who works with engineering students at UW-Rock County, brought a miniature solar panel, paper plate turbine and a circuit board to entice students into pursuing engineering careers. He told them with Rock County’s partnership with UW-Platteville, there are classes in the evenings allowing students to work during the day while pursuing engineering. And advances in technologies have made much of the equipment more affordable and portable so students can spend less time on campus and more time working at home.

From “More students seek out tech. education program” — By Hillary Gavan - More Beloit students are enrolling in technical education classes thanks to the newly renovated Technical Education Programming Space in Beloit Memorial High School’s lower level and the district’s renewed commitment to promoting the skilled trades as a career option for students.

“We are investing in Career and Technical Education and are making changes as needed to provide students with the best path to a potential career opportunity,” said Ryan Rewey, the School District of Beloit’s new career and technical education director.

This October, in honor of manufacturing month, Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students will be participating in a career fair and expo at the school, visiting two local manufacturers on National Manufacturing Day and welcoming State Superintendent Tony Evers for a tour.

Rewey said there is energy and excitement surrounding the new space as the department has brought on new educators and is already offering students more opportunities to partner with local business.

Last year BMHS had 935 students go through the Technology and Engineering area, and this year it has 973 students who have signed up.

“We expect this number to continue to increase as our program begins to take off,” Rewey said.

This fall students were able to choose from four technical education career paths — machining, building construction, manufacturing and a new career path of computer repair and information technology (CISCO). After completing four to five classes in each area, students should be ready to be employed immediately after graduation or could apply their course work toward a degree at a school such as Blackhawk Technical College. There are also a series of engineering courses for students who are interested in pursuing an engineering-related career path.

Efforts to get more students enrolling in technical education classes are already under way. Students will be participating in the First Annual Career and Technical Education Fair set for 9 – 11 a.m. Thursday at BMHS. The event coincides with the Wisconsin Education Fair, which will feature four-year universities, colleges, technical colleges and other post-secondary schools. The students will have a two-hour block to visit both fairs to learn about possible careers and the skills and education necessary to obtain them.

Then on Friday 38 students will be heading to Regal Cutting Tools and Forest City Gear in Roscoe for National Manufacturing Day to get a look at the jobs available in a real work setting.

On Oct. 28 State Superintendent Tony Evers will be coming through the newly upgraded facilities in honor of manufacturing month.

On Monday students such as junior Logan Engel were learning to use a horizontal band saw and learning to weld in new instructor Chris Klatt’s class.

Engel said he is taking a welding class and two construction classes this year. He said he’d been waiting for the renovations to be complete before starting, and hopes to get an internship with Corporate Contractors Inc. (CCI) this summer. He not only plans to make good money by learning the trades, but said he learns more in technical education classes with more hands-on work.

“I learn better working by myself and learning from my own mistakes,” he said.

The Welding and CNC Lab has been expanded and is up and running with 17 welding stations that include brand new miller tungsten inert gas (TIG) and metal inert gas (MIG) machines as well as updated ventilation.

Although students have been learning how to weld but are waiting to use the 12 new CNC mills and lathes until the district gets the necessary tooling purchased. For now, Rewey said students are learning the principles of running the Haas training panels and learning about G-Code and M-Code, the programming languages for CNC.

At the newly remodeled Construction Lab students are already working on building scale models of homes in their beginning construction class with Will Neiers, an instructor who is newly full-time with the district this year. Neiers said there are many more students in his basic carpentry and carpentry techniques classes this year, probably because of the new facilities. In the newly remodeled Woods Lab, for example, students will learn millwork, cabinetry and more.

Rewey said he would like to have a program model similar to the construction program offered in Janesville where local contractors could get involved and students could build a home to sell. Any profits made from the sale of the home could go back into the Technical Education Program as well as scholarships for students pursuing the skilled trades.

Rewey said the department is focused on exposing more students to the courses available through tours, participation in National Manufacturing Day, the career expo and more. There are also efforts under way to attract more female students to the program. Just this fall the district hired Tammy Spoerk to teach engineering and blue print reading. Spoerk, a former computer aided drafting (CAD) business owner, has plans to get a robotics team back at BMHS next year and take students on more trips to universities.

She encourages parents and community members to come see the type of high skilled work students are actually doing as she said people would be surprised how advanced course work is and how far students will go if they are empowered to be leaders.


From “BTC – Monroe campus director named” – MONROE — Matthew Urban, a native of Monroe who has spent the past five years in three different roles at Blackhawk Technical College-Monroe Campus, has been named Director of the Monroe Campus by BTC President Dr. Thomas Eckert.

Urban will be responsible for the overall administrative operations and public outreach at the Monroe Campus.

Urban succeeds Jennifer Thayer, who left BTC to become the Superintendent of Schools in New Glarus.

Urban began his BTC career in 2007 as an Adjunct Instructor before adding the jobs of Learning Resource Specialist and Student Development Specialist to his responsibilities.

Prior to joining BTC, Urban spent 13 years as the Executive Director of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also served as the Community Relations Coordinator at The Monroe Clinic and Operations and Programming Director for radio station WEKZ.

Urban is a 1983 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with an undergraduate degree in Speech Communication. In 2010, he earned a Masters of Science degree in Education at UW-Platteville.


From “Employers, educators discuss student preparation for work” — By Hillary Gavan - Representatives from business and education joined together to discuss new ways to get students trained for the workforce at the 7th Annual Business Education Summit held Thursday at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.

Sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, School District of Beloit and Beloit College, the day’s theme was “Workforce Development – Are You Ready?”

At the event the 2nd Annual Business/Education Partnership Award for the business sector went to Blackhawk Bank accepted by CEO Rick Bastian. The award for the education sector went to the School District of Beloit, accepted by Superintendent Steve McNeal.

Beloit City Manager Larry Arft and McNeal welcomed crowds, and McNeal said it was a blessing to have forward thinking people to move the school district ahead.

McNeal noted there is non-referendum money being put into the Beloit Memorial High School’s new Technical Education Programming Space demonstrating the district’s commitment to getting kids into jobs. The School District of Beloit and City of Beloit, he said, are undergoing joint efforts to train kids for the workforce which rival any in the state.

After the Vice President of ManpowerGroup’s Global Strategic Workforce Consulting Practice Rebekah Kowalkski gave her keynote address, Economic Development Director for the Rock County Development Alliance James Otterstein gave a presentation on Inspire Rock County, a web-based career readiness platform which connects students with businesses and mentors and other resources to investigate careers and apply for jobs.

Susan Dantuma, from Blackhawk Technical College, talked about the college’s youth apprenticeship programs and Bob Borremans, from the Southern Wisconsin Workforce Development, spoke about the Work Today Program where employers in the program pay to have workers trained for job openings at their companies.

Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Jim Agate said he was pleased with the roundtable discussions which returned this year so educators and the business community could brainstorm together. In the past he said takeaways from the discussions included ideas which were implemented such as mock interviews and the lunch and learn program.

Agate said after Thursday’s events new plans would begin forming.

“We will put all our notes together and move forward,” he said.

Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Rick Barder said all of those on the Business/Education Partnership Committee put together a program and agenda that was relevant in today’s world with many takeaways for both the businesses and the education community.

Beloit City Manager Larry Arft said the event was a unique opportunity for educators and business as well as government leaders in the community to interact and to share perspectives regarding the needs of public education.

From “Business, education set session” — By Shaun Zinck - The connection between businesses and education is vitally important.

That will be the main theme for the annual Business Education Partnership Summit next month at the Eclipse Center.

The summit is sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation (GBEDC), the School District of Beloit, Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce and Beloit College.

The event will be presented from 7:30 a.m. – noon on Aug. 22 at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.

Rebekah Kowalski, director of Global Solutions for Right Management, will be the keynote speaker and will talk about the “Be Bold 2” initiative.

The “Be Bold” Initiative is a Wisconsin Economic Development Association program designed to study the competitiveness of Wisconsin on the business level. It includes looking at different industries and recommending improvements to the economic development strategies.

The summit’s theme is “Workforce Development – Are You Ready?” Attendees will learn how “collaboration between business and education can build a sustainable, skilled workforce,” a release on the summit said.

Andrew Janke, executive director of the GBEDC, said each year the summit draws 150 to 200 educators and business owners.

“It’s an opportunity to gather the business owners and educators in the area to listen to a topic or topics of mutual interest,” Janke said. “And through interacting they will be able to talk things through and identify issues both sides are having and may develop some solutions.”

In addition to Kowalski presentations will be given on Inspire Wisconsin by James Otterstein. The program is designed to connect employers with students and vice versa.

Susan Dantuma, from Blackhawk Technical College, will talk about the college’s youth apprenticeship programs and Bob Borremans, from the Southern Wisconsin Workforce Development, will talk about the Work Today Program.

Roundtable discussions will return this year after not being on the agenda last year. The topics for the roundtables are still being working out, Janke said.

Janke said attendees in last year’s survey indicated they would like to see the discussion make a come back this year.

“We try to intermix educators and business owners at the tables so there is actual interaction between the two,” he said.

At the end of the summit gift baskets with items donated by local businesses and the School District of Beloit will be raffled off.

The cost is $20 per person or $15 for a group of three or more. For more information or to purchase tickets

From “Blackhawk Tech College to Offer Nuclear Technician Associate Degree” – Blackhawk Technical College is joining with Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, WI, to offer a new associate degree program starting this fall semester for those interested in becoming a nuclear technician, one of the most rapidly expanding technical fields in the United States.

BTC already offers 32 credits of the program requirements including mathematics, sciences, technical studies and general education courses. Students at BTC will be able to complete the other required nuclear technical classes through interactive television and online platforms. Lakeshore will offer much of the nuclear specific curriculum in the two-year program.

BTC is committed to introducing students to a program that offers this specialized training in a field that presents opportunities in a growing and lucrative industry. It is an example of BTC’s goal to offer programs that help train students to meet the ever increasing needs of the local, state and national communities.

“What is most exciting about this program is that it offers interested students a wide array of future employment possibilities in fields such as the nuclear industry, medicine and environmental safety, just to name a few,’’ said Dr. Diane Nyhammer, BTC’s Vice President of Learning. “The program itself will help lead to employment, but students interested in further studies may also use it as a springboard to a four-year degree in high demand fields like health physics and radiation safety.’’

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 14 percent growth in nuclear technician jobs by 2020 as the need for specialized training to operate equipment and monitor radiation levels in nuclear research and production increases.

The median pay for nuclear technicians is $68,090 a year, or $32.73 per hour, according to the Bureau. Nuclear technicians commonly operate special equipment and assist physicists, engineers, medical researchers and other professionals in nuclear research and production.

“We see this program as another example of how we can combine the best educational opportunities offered by the Wisconsin Technical College System to enhance the employable skills of our students and meet the ever-changing and increasing needs of employers in our state and around the nation,’’ Nyhammer said.

Students interested in more information about the Nuclear Technology program at Blackhawk should call the BTC admissions office at 608-757-7665 or contact by email.

From “Blackhawk Technical College to take part at the Rock County 4H Fair” – JANESVILLE – Blackhawk Technical College is coming to the Rock County 4-H Fair on Friday, July 26, with a variety of activities at the Food Fair Area Tent guaranteed to entertain and inform fairgoers about the impact of BTC on the community.

BTC activities, which will run from noon to 6 p.m., include five raffles for $50 certificates toward any Community Education offering in the 2013-14 school year and five more raffles in which winners applying to BTC will receive a waiver on the school’s $30 application fee. One winner in each of the drawings will be announced on the hour be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Blaze, Blackhawk’s perky, energetic and engaging mascot, will be roaming the Fairgrounds, posing for pictures and offering kids of all ages temporary tattoos. BTC alumni can reap the reward of a $5 food voucher, good at any food fair vendor. Children intrigued by careers in law enforcement and fire safety, among other fields, will be able to don part of the occupation’s uniform and have their pictures taken that eventually will be posted on the BTC Facebook page.

Representatives from the BTC Admissions and Continuing Education programs will be onsite to explain the school’s degree and certification programs as well as the number of different non-credit courses offered to the community. In addition, a Community Education instructor is scheduled to demonstrate the art of wood pen making.

Fairgoers also will be able to test their knowledge at the BTC Trivia Wheel. Answer the question and win a prize.

The Rock County 4-H Fair, which runs from July 23-27, is located at the Fairgrounds bordered by Craig and N. Randall avenues in Janesville. Admission is $8 for those 13 and older, $5 for those 7-12.


Blackhawk Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System. BTC has five campus locations in Monroe, Beloit and Janesville, WI offering more than 50 programs including two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, BTC is a major provider of customized training and technical assistance for the Rock and Green County business community. More than half of all adults living in Wisconsin have accessed the technical colleges for education and training during the last decade.

From “Milton Fire/EMT intern sees tough, real-life training requirements” —   By Neil Johnson - MILTON — Milton Firefighter and EMT intern Heather Tollefson was tending to her daily marching orders on a quiet Friday morning.

Tollefson, 25, planned to write a report on an earlier emergency ambulance call, check the fire trucks’ firefighter air tanks and generators and head out for a set of pre-fire readiness checks at a half-dozen downtown Milton businesses.

Then, things got interesting.

At 10:27 a.m., the firehouse’s radios lit up with a report of a man stung by a hornet outside his home a few blocks away. The man was having an allergic reaction to the sting.

“I’ve gotta go,” Tollefson said, bounding off toward a fire department ambulance already idling in the firehouse garage.

Tollefson’s blond, braided ponytail bounced against her black Milton Fire Department T-shirt as she leapt into the back of the ambulance.

In a span of 10 seconds, Tollefson’s day had changed. Off she raced to an emergency.

For Tollefson, it was like any other day for a working intern at a small fire department. An intern can handle many kinds of tasks, some as mundane as cleaning a fire station restroom or filling oxygen tanks.

Other duties, such as writing reports or helping on calls as an ambulance or fire truck “ride along,” are crucial for a fire department trainee to gain hands-on work experience.

All the work gets logged in some way as part of a matrix of hundreds of training hours that a firefighter/emergency medical technician needs to complete as a full, on-call member of a fire department.

Tollefson already is certified as a base-level Emergency Medical Technician, known as an EMT-basic, but she is in the middle of a two-year program of coursework at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville to earn certification as an advanced paramedic and a firefighter.

A former restaurant supervisor who has a young daughter and is engaged to be married, Tollefson, a rural Milton resident, said she has always dreamed of being a full-time firefighter/paramedic. She said her fiancé, Eric Sympson of Edgerton, pressed her to follow her dreams.

On Friday, it just happened to be Tollefson’s first call to a serious insect sting.

Lt. Aaron Reed, 24, a five-year veteran on the Milton Fire Department, said as an intern, Tollefson could get thrown into any emergency situation at any time.

“When you’re training for this work, you get thrown right into real life. It’s an eye-opener. It’s not you and your buddies sitting around in class or a college cafeteria.

“Today, Heather asked if she could ride along on ambulance calls, and I said sure,” Reed said. “So there you go. Bee sting.”

Although other area departments have internship programs, Tollefson is the Milton Fire Department’s first firefighter intern.

She has been at the 40-member volunteer fire department for about nine months during her schooling at Blackhawk Tech. She has about another semester and a half at BTC. She works 36 hours a week on call at the department.

The intern program is a new line this year in the fire department’s budget, which is funded jointly by taxpayers from the city of Milton and the town of Milton.

Milton Fire Chief Loren Lippincott said having Tollefson as an intern bolsters the ranks of Milton’s fire department and helps Tollefson meet her education and training requirements. The department’s association also reimburses some of Tellefson’s school costs.

“The internship program is a small expense to us as a department, but it’s great for both us and Heather,” Lippincott said. “She’s getting great experience that she needs to advance her career here at Milton or another department. And it’s at less of cost to us than a part-time member.”

According to department records, about 20 percent of the Milton Fire Department’s 40 or so permanent, on-call firefighter/EMTs have been on the department two years or less. And, Reed said, more than half of the department’s members are under 35.

Many, he said, work full-time jobs outside the department—some as private EMTs. Others work in fields unrelated to public safety.

Regardless of education or experiences, the Milton Fire Department requires every firefighter to have at least 100 hours of training to meet department criteria, which range from fire response to water and ice rescue on Lake Koshkonong.

If firefighters also are EMTs—and most, such as Tollefson, are—the department requires those members-in-training to gather ambulance emergency skills along with training hours before they can graduate beyond “ridealong” status.

For instance, Lippincott said, on Tollefson’s hornet-sting call, she earned EMT training credits and department credit for assisting the man stung and also communicating with staff at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville, where the man was transported for treatment.

New members including interns have tough tests to get through, and they do it in real time, Reed said.

“Everybody, whether they’re a chief or someone in training, has to go to their first fire sometime. Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you sit in the firehouse and wait until you’ve got experience. Heather understands she’s like anybody else here. She’s part of the department. She’s got to be ready to go whenever,” he said.

Although Milton is a fairly small city, it and its surrounding area see the fourth-highest fire-emergency call volume in Rock County.

The city also has a soon-to-be finished four-lane bypass and four manufacturers whose work involves production with natural gas, plastics and ethanol, which Reed called “targeted production facilities” with potentially volatile substances that require dozens more hours a year of special training.

“Milton is changing a lot from a public-safety perspective. It’s not as sleepy as you’d think. Everything about it is dynamic,” Reed said.

Tollefson referred to the third call of her shift, the one involving the man with the hornet sting, as “laid back, but a pretty good call.”

She would be busy for rest of her day catching up on reports, cleaning up and checking in the ambulance the department used on the hornet sting call, and doing pre-fire checks at businesses. That is, if she didn’t have to go out on another call.

“I’m as happy as I could be,” Tollefson said. “I love this work.”

From “Blackhawk Tech College offering fall workshops” – The Business and Community Development Division of Blackhawk Technical College is offering workshops and seminars this fall for area businesses and professionals that will help hone a wide array of skills to make business professionals savvier and smarter in the ever changing business world.

Registration begins July 16 for the BCD programs that range from helping businesses become more environmentally friendly to how to effectively get your message out to the community. There are morning, afternoon, night and all-day workshops scheduled.

The first workshop offered is the Aug. 5 session of “Green Generalist,” a BTC presentation in conjunction with Purdue University that provides an introductory look at the key environmental issues facing organizations today. The session costs $149 and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Three other “green” workshops developed by Purdue University also are scheduled for Aug. 12, Oct. 12 and Oct. 26.

Those interested in registering for a program should connect with and click the Workshops and Seminars link on the left side of the page.

For more information, contact Amy Berendes, BCD’s Business & Industry Operations Coordinator at (608) 757-7728 or at Courses scheduled for the fall program are:

Applying Leadership Skills: Techniques for Effective Leadership
Looking to get ahead in the workplace but not sure where to begin? Good leaders know how to influence, empower and motivate others. This seminar will introduce you to leadership theories and practices to start you on your path to developing these skills. Through activities, role-playing, videos and discussion, you will explore aspects of leadership in an environment that encourages participation and engages active learning methods.
Cost: $69 Dates: 9/21/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Dealing with Difficult People: Effectively Approaching Others
Difficult people come in every variety and no workplace is without them. How difficult a person is for you depends on your self-esteem, your self-confidence and your professional courage. Learn to identify and deal with potential conflicts that may arise from working with difficult people and how to mitigate the negative effects.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/05/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Improving the Customer Experience: Taking Your Service from Good to Great
Improve the experience your customers have by learning how to effectively communicate with customers who are angry, confused or just plain having a bad day — all while improving your productivity and reducing stress. Learn how communication mindfulness helps improve what we say and how we say it. This active and fun seminar provides you the knowledge and skills to communicate positively so that angry customers become happy, life-long customers. Cost: $69 Dates: 11/09/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Performance Management: Improving the Performance Appraisal Process
Appraising the performance of staff is an important but often challenging task for many managers. While the parameters, characteristics and standards for evaluation vary by organization, the fundamentals of performance appraisal remain the same. Through hands-on learning and practical application of performance appraisal principles, you will learn the skills to recognize the roles and responsibilities in conducting a performance appraisal; adequately prepare and plan for the appraisal; explain the importance of providing meaningful feedback to employees; and identify the essential elements of an effective performance appraisal.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/15/13 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Coaching for Performance
Learn how coaching can be used to develop your team and improve individual performance. Coaching is based on a partnership that involves giving both support and challenging opportunities to employees. Knowing when to coach is an essential skill that can benefit both you and your organization. This three-hour workshop will help you become a better coach and leader.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/07/13 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Stop Wasting Time and Start Getting Things Done: Practical Techniques for Managing Your Time
Imagine a day where you complete everything on your to-do list. Seem like a dream? If so, this seminar is for you. This workshop will provide practical techniques for controlling time and making it a manageable resource. You will learn to clarify objectives and plan for results; conquer procrastination; delegate effectively; set group goals and priorities; and eliminate time wasters. Cost: $69 Dates: 10/19/13 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Early Childhood: WMELS
This training will provide you with an opportunity to explore the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS) so that you will be able to use them to build a foundation for high quality care and education for all children from birth to the beginning of first grade. You will learn how to apply the WMELS Performance Standards to determine what children should know and be able to do; plan learning experiences; provide supportive environments; and collect data to ensure that all children are learning and making progress.
Cost: $75 Dates: 9/7 & 9/14 Time: 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Introduction to Project Management
Today’s managers are expected to be task and goal oriented. As a result, many employees are expected to understand project management techniques and apply them to projects of any size. This workshop will give you an overview of the entire project management process as well as key project management tools you can use every day. You will come away with an understanding of what a project is, steps needed to complete projects on time and on budget, and tools and techniques for planning and tracking projects.
Cost: $99 Dates: 9/23 & 9/30 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

An Accounting Crash Course: A Basic Review of Accounting Principles for Non-Accountants
Many of us flinch when we hear terms like depreciation, cash flow, balance sheet and (worst of all!) budgets. However, these are all important concepts to understand if you are going to succeed in today’s business world, particularly as a leader. Join us for this informative workshop to understand the basics of the accounting process, financial statements and the budgeting process as well as why they are all important in the work environment.
Cost: $69 Dates: 11/19 Time: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Business Writing for the 21st Century
Are your writing skills holding you back at work? Effective and professional written communication skills are critical in today’s workplace. This course begins with grammar and business writing essentials to help you communicate professionally. Then, learn how to apply these skills to 21st Century technologies, including writing for email, PowerPoint, social media, and other applicable internet-based technologies.
Cost: $69 Dates: 11/16 Time: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Meeting Management: The Art of Making Meetings Work
Tired of walking away from a meeting you felt was a waste of time? This seminar will focus on how to conduct an effective meeting by utilizing critical planning steps to make meeting time more productive. Learn to use process tools that can help create an open and safe forum for discussion as well as how to handle counterproductive behavior in meetings. Cost: $69 Dates: 10/28 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Managing People Through Change
Change is a constant. All around us, technologies, processes, people, ideas, and methods often change. Being able to manage people through change effectively requires understanding how people perceive and handle change. Using Real Colors®, this workshop will show you how to identify different personality types and to understand how each approaches change so it is more likely to be accepted and implemented smoothly. Join us for this fun and interactive workshop. Cost: $99 Dates: 11/2 Time: 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

OSHA 10-Hour Voluntary Compliance for General Industry
This 10-hour OSHA Certification seminar is designed for managers or other personnel responsible for on-the-job safety and implementing work place practices that comply with OSHA standards. Learn what safety training is required, who needs it, and how often it must be done. This course will provide an introduction to the OSHA Act and will cover such topics as walking and working surfaces, exit routes, emergency action plans, fire prevention/protection, electrical safety, PPE and hazard communications. Other topics will be discussed based on class need. Join us for this informative workshop.
Cost: $249 Dates: 9/16, 9/17, 9/23, 9/24 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Streamline Processes & Eliminate Waste: An Introduction to Lean Process Techniques
This two-day course will give you the foundation to implement Lean process improvement tools in your workplace. We will explore the foundations of Lean through the Toyota precepts and the five critical improvement concepts (value, waste, variation, complexity, and continuous improvement) the first day. The second day will give participants tools to perform continuous improvement in their organization, including 5S, 5W-2H, PDSA, DMAIC, Kaizen, Genchi Genbutsu and various Lean data mapping methods. Price includes lunch both days.
Cost: $299 Dates: 9/17 & 9/28 Time: 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Emergency Preparedness for Business
The actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical. A prompt warning to employees to evacuate, shelter or lockdown can save lives. A call for help to public emergency services that provides full and accurate information will help the dispatcher send the right responders and equipment. Action by employees with knowledge of building and process systems can help control a leak and minimize damage to the facility and the environment. This seminar will focus on the critical steps businesses can take to minimize the impact of an emergency.
Cost: $99 Dates: 9/26 Time: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Building Inclusive Teams: A Leader’s Guide to Diversity
In the past 10 years, the workforce has changed dramatically and leaders must understand how to manage diverse team members. More than ever, a workplace is a collection of individuals proud of whom they are: their gender, their sexual orientation, their religion, their ethnic background and all other components that make an individual unique. In order for a business to succeed, employees must be able to appreciate and celebrate those differences — and, most important, work together. Join us for this practical and interactive workshop to learn how to effectively build a team that succeeds together.
Cost: $69 Dates: 11/7 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Emotional Intelligence: Today’s Differentiator in Exceptional Leaders
Emotional Intelligence, also called EQ, is the ability to recognize and manage emotions and relationships. It is a pivotal factor in personal and professional success. IQ will get you in the door, but it is your EQ, your ability to connect with others and manage the emotions of yourself and others, that will determine how successful you are. When you look at the truly extraordinary leaders that inspire and make a difference, you will see that they often do this by connecting with people at a personal and emotional level. What differentiates them is not their IQ but their EQ. Join us for this interactive workshop to gain that EQ edge.
Cost: $69 Dates: 10/21 Time: 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

e-Newsletters: Use Microsoft Publisher to Create Impact
Many small businesses and non-profit organizations rely on e-newsletters as a cost-effective way to stay connected to customers. This workshop will provide you with the skills to create professional documents using MS Publisher to reach your target audience. Learn how to easily create e-newsletters that are attractive, interesting and worthwhile to read. Once you understand simple design and layout concepts, you will be able to create stunning newsletters (and other documents) that will save you time and money, while providing value to your customers. If you have a blog or website, easily post these documents as pdf files for quick access. Any skill level is encouraged to participate in this workshop. Cost: $69 Dates: 9/14 Time: 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Keep the Audience Alive with POWERFUL Presentations
Do you dread PowerPoint presentations because they are so boring? Then this workshop is for you. Avoid “Death by PowerPoint” and learn how to create visually meaningful and effective slides that keeps the audience’s attention, while allowing you to verbally deliver your message with impact. If you want to impress your audience and meet your business goals, join us. This workshop will help you develop a competitive advantage in any presentation without putting your audience to sleep!
Cost: $69 Dates: 9/19 Time: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Green Generalist: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Green Generalist training, developed by Purdue University, provides an introductory look at the green movement, with a focus on education, awareness and methods beneficial to employees at every level of a company or organization. This workshop combines classroom-style learning with an interactive “live” simulation to help you learn green concepts and key environmental issues facing organizations today.
Cost: $149 Dates: 8/5 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Energy Management: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Learn how to manage energy usage and invest in energy efficiency to cut energy costs and reduce your organization’s carbon footprint in this interactive workshop developed by Purdue University. Basic energy use and renewable energy alternatives are discussed.
Cost: $149 Dates: 8/12 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pollution Solutions: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Learn innovative methods to improve emission control, environmental management systems and new technologies to reduce air pollution through this workshop developed by Purdue University. You will also gain an understanding of climate challenges related to air emissions and learn strategies for incorporating effective air emissions management concepts into a green enterprise. Join us for this hands-on workshop.
Cost: $149 Dates: 10/12 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Dumpster Dive: A Purdue University Developed Sustainability Workshop
Don’t worry — your hands won’t get dirty during this fun and interactive workshop. Join us to learn the fundamentals of solid waste streams and their sources by focusing on the leading methods of waste reduction, known as the “4 Rs” (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). You will also learn about lifecycle analysis, alternative material selection, by-product reduction, waste exchange, and zero landfill concepts through activities and exercises designed to simulate real life. Cost: $149 Dates: 10/26 Time: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.


From “Development division help provide grants for 3 area manufacturers” – JANESVILLE, WI – Blackhawk Technical College’s Business and Community Development (BCD) division has helped arrange nearly $244,000 in Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) grants for three area manufacturers.

BCD will provide training in a wide variety of topics in advanced manufacturing and leadership development including electro-mechanical, MSSC, Six Sigma, soldering, metallurgy, statistical process control, project management, problem solving and team building for employees of Regal Beloit, SSI Technologies, Inc., and Hufcor, Inc. The grant money is provided by the WTCS’s Workforce Advancement Training Grant program. Regal Beloit is one of the world’s largest producers of electric motors, generators and power transmission equipment. SSI, based in Janesville, designs and manufactures a variety of sensors, control systems and powdered metal components for worldwide automotive, heavy vehicle and industrial markets. Hufcor, Inc., also based in Janesville, is the world’s leading supplier of movable walls and folding doors.

Grant applications are just a part of BCD’s mission, which is to provide a wide array of training and consulting programs for businesses in Rock and Green counties. In addition to customized training for businesses, BCD will offer more than 20 different professional development workshops and seminars open to the public this fall. Registration begins July 16.

“This is just one of the many great ways Blackhawk Technical College continues to demonstrate its partnership with area businesses”, said Doug Holmes, BCD’s Training and Consulting Services manager.


From “Group pitches world-class agriculture complex in Evansville, but questions remain” — By Rob Schultz - EVANSVILLE — A group of business and community leaders from southwestern Wisconsin wants to build a state-of-the-art complex here that will boost agriculture with facilities focusing on education, research, entertainment and promotion of the industry.

Executives of agricultural businesses and a technical college have endorsed a proposal to build a $32 million Wisconsin Ag Education & Innovation Complex on 200 acres on the outskirts of Evansville.

It could include space for Blackhawk Technical College’s enhanced ag department and other schools for all levels of education as well as apprenticeship programs.

It also could include research and retail facilities, and a high-tech agricultural “discovery” center built around models like Disney World’s Epcot and the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.

The Rock County 4-H Fair is also considering moving there, and other tourist attractions promoting agriculture are being planned.

“People tell us we’re talking about big things, but they all fit together very well and complement each other in a way that we think creates a unique benefit I have not seen anywhere else,” said Kennan Wood, a member of the Southwest Wisconsin Agricultural Group (SWAG), which is behind the project.

SWAG believes the complex could create more than 300 jobs and turn out thousands of qualified ag workers, but it won’t become reality until endorsements are turned into cash.

SWAG will start fundraising efforts soon with a goal of

$25 million. The remaining

$7 million needed to complete the project is expected to come from other sources.

“There is a gap between saying, ‘That’s a great idea and I support it,’ to ‘Let me stroke you a check with six or seven or eight zeroes on it.’ It’s our job to bridge that gap the right way,” said Tom DiFiore, the president of Atlanta-based National Community Development Services, which is helping SWAG sell the project to potential donors on regional, state and national levels.

Leaders of SWAG are optimistic their efforts over the past several months will help them raise enough money to get the project started as early as next year. They are also bracing for the possibility of starting in two years — or not at all — if fundraising efforts don’t go well.

“Is it a slam dunk? Absolutely not. Is it doable? Yes, with the right strategies,” DiFiore said.

Questions about focus

What constitutes “the right strategies” is up for debate.

SWAG officials are keen on creating a place for tourists to learn about agriculture and the kind of jobs one can find in the industry.

They believe Evansville is the perfect site because it’s in farm country and the acreage will include corn fields and other crops for research that can be part of the tour.

They also want visitors to learn that, like manufacturing, the ag industry is no longer dark, dirty and dangerous. They want to make a trip to the complex fun and unforgettable for everybody.

“We have to get rid of that old stereotype that haunts agriculture,” said SWAG official John Morning, who hatched the idea for the complex.

But the entertainment features could keep organizers from raising the money they need, two local business executives said.

SWAG officials hope for a few big corporations with deep pockets to get the fundraising campaign off to a fast start with major pledges of more than $1 million.

Its best selling point is that the gifts would be more of an investment than a donation, DiFiore added.

John Deere & Co. is looking at the proposal, Morning said. So is Madison-based BouMatic, which is a global manufacturer and supplier of milking systems and dairy farm equipment, and Kuhn Manufacturing in Brodhead.

All three companies like the project because it has the potential to turn out more skilled-trade workers and others who are desperately needed to fill key roles in agri-businesses across the country.

BouMatic President Bob Luna said if schools at the complex train and educate students on the value of working on a farm, BouMatic will profit because “it provides people who will go out and want to sell our products, people who want to provide technical support for our products, and people who want to open dealerships.”

Luna also said the research and education phases of the complex would help potential farmers learn about the technological advances that will make their operations more profitable.

“They will recognize they don’t have to have 5,000 cows to make money, that the small family farm is still a viable option because technology helps them make money,” Luna added. “But they have to be properly educated in all those channels.”

Questions about scope

Luna said SWAG needs to build the complex in the right sequence and put its focus initially on raising money for education and research. That way, he said, the project can get started with much less than $25 million.

“If they do that, I think that what they have has a lot of merit,” he said. “If the scope is too wide, you’ll never get the ball rolling on this.”

Paul Jadin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership, formerly known as Thrive, has given SWAG officials the same advice.

“It’s getting a little too diverse and a little too large,” Jadin said. “They need to go back and make sure they are trying to be who they intended to be all along.”

Jadin said his economic development group believes the project has the potential to have a national and, perhaps, global impact on the agricultural industry if it keeps its focus on establishing strong educational and research facilities.

It also would have an opportunity to apply for federal funding, and he said his group would help with such grant requests.

Blackhawk Technical College’s pledge to move its ag programs to the complex once SWAG raises the needed money is the project’s most positive development so far.

Ag classes would move to Evansville from the college’s Monroe campus, and expand to include classes where students could learn how to install and repair GPS systems and other technologies that are used in modern farm equipment, Blackhawk president Tom Eckert said.

He also said the school could split its diesel program and create an ag repair class for combines and other machinery. Another possibility is to create a place at the complex to demonstrate new technology to farmers and help them learn about it.

Eckert said SWAG has a dream that’s within its reach.

“Combining information with education and experimentation — it all seems to be the right combination and the right location,” he said.


From “Blackhawk Tech’s Milton facility on track” – “I think we’re on a good roll.”

Blackhawk Technical College President Tom Eckert was upbeat on June 19 as he talked about the college’s plans to open a new manufacturing education center in Milton.

He appeared at the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly general membership meeting in Newville to give a presentation on the proposed BTC Advanced Manufacturing Training Center.

The Wisconsin Technical College Board in March gave approval for Blackhawk to lease the former Burdick/ANGI Energy System building at 15 Plumb St. to serve as the new facility. Eckert said last week the lease on the property had been secured and engineers were beginning to look at the building to evaluate needs.

The Milton Plan Commission will also hold a public hearing on July 9 at 5 p.m. to consider a conditional use permit (CUP) request for the facility. The meeting will be held in the City Council chambers at 430 E. High St.

Eckert said he anticipates the college’s big manufacturing programs – precision machining (CNC), industrial maintenance, electromechanical technology, welding and metal fabrication – to begin classes in the new facility in the fall of 2014. The remaining manufacturing programs would relocate to Milton in the fall of 2015.

He said modern manufacturing is “no longer dirty and dark” and manufacturers are using more automation. The manufacturers are in need of employees who can master the new technology.

“It’s good for our economy to make things,” he said, touting the importance of keeping manufacturing in the United States.

The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center will be designed to allow more cross-training, creating well-rounded graduates, Eckert said. There will be double the number of welding booths compared to current setup at the central campus in Janesville and more space to take on bigger projects.

Eckert said the “capstone” project for students will be to create a manufacturing line that makes a product.

Moving the manufacturing program to Milton will also free up much-needed space at the central campus for other programs.

From “A taste of the Culinary Institute” – The high school students of five area Culinary Arts teachers may want to turn the tables next fall by asking those teachers what they did during their summer vacations.

The answer would be I went to Blackhawk Technical College’s two-day Culinary Institute.

“We’re here to make their lives just a little bit easier,’’ said BTC Culinary Arts instructor Joe Wollinger, better known as “Chef Joe’’ to those students who have made their ways through the BTC kitchens the past 25 years. “We’re trying to give them something they can use in a 45-minute class. This is a way for them to network and take advantage of that.’’

Chef Joe worked the kitchens on Tuesday and Wednesday this week with five teachers turned students that included what he called the southern contingent from Illinois – Jacqualine Mitchell of Harlem District #122, Jane Lang of Hononegah Community High Schools and Susan Fryer of Byron High School – and the northern contingent from Wisconsin – Jennifer Dail of Edgerton and Heather Buttchen of Evansville.

Chef Joe said this was his fifth workshop with high school instructors during his time at BTC.

The menu began Tuesday with some interesting appetizers – Crème Bulee, Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and homemade soft-serve ice cream. If those sound like traditional desserts, you’re right. But it made for an interesting lunch during the mid-day break.

Over the two days, the students also worked on a wide variety of sauces and Tapas, those small plate meals usually loaded with spices and always loaded with taste. They also spent time on what should prove to be a classroom favorite when they return to their own kitchens next fall – French-Mediterranean Style Pizza made with quick rising dough for the crust.

Teachers stand to earn continuing education credits or further certification designations as a result of taking the seminar. Yet, those teachers turned students envisioned even more rewards beyond the delicacies they were creating.

“We do it for the learning experience,’’ Buttchen said. “It makes so much sense to do something like this because it helps us keep up with what’s going on in the industry. It keeps us fresh.’’


From “BTC board OKs $67.5 million budget, Eckert contract” – By Katherine Krueger – The Blackhawk Technical College District Board approved a $67.5 million budget and a new three-year contract for college president Tom Eckert without debate Thursday.

The board approved the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget, which contains an 11.8 percent increase in spending, most of which will go toward the college’s remodeling of a new instructional space. The new budget will be effective July 1.

The District Board has already leased the 18,819-square foot industrial building at 15 N. Plumb Street in Milton as the future home for its Advanced Manufacturing Training Center. The center, which is set to open in 2014, will include training labs for computer-numerical controlled and industrial maintenance technician programs.

These programs are currently one-year diploma programs, but the additional space means the college can add an option for a second-year specialization for students.

Vice President for Finance and Operations Renea Ranguette said the budget reflects declining support for the state’s 16 technical colleges and is also owed in part to decreased enrollment from peak levels in 2009-10, when around 2,900 students were enrolled.

Board members said the Milton campus means the college will remain a significant engine for creating skilled jobs in the area and the state.

“We’re bringing high-quality and high-paying jobs to the community,” said Victor Gonzalez, a board member. “The dollars and the graduates stay here.”

The board also unanimously approved a new three-year contract for Eckert.

Board vice chair Barbara Barrington said the contract includes a 2 percent salary increase for the first year of the contract. Eckert also will have to pay 50 percent of the total contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System under the terms of the new contract.

The contract was drafted after a “market analysis” of the state’s other technical colleges, Barrington said.

She added that the three-year contract allows for stability in the college’s leadership team heading into such major projects as the Milton expansion.

“We recognized the need for a salary adjustment,” she said.

The board will have to revisit the president’s salary for the remaining two years of the contract down the road.


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