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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From “For tech college students, simulation lab brings medical reality” — When nursing students at Chippewa Valley Technical College in River Falls work on a training scenario with one of the school’s high-tech simulation mannequins, they can rely only on their own knowledge and instincts.

There’s no glancing over at an instructor in search of a nod of approval for a chosen course of action.

The instructor watches from a separate room, behind glass that students cannot see through. She listens, observes, and controls the simulator to react accordingly to what the students do — good or bad.

“This is more realistic than it was before,” said student Anna Hinde, originally from Barron. “We are able to have some hands-on, real-life experiences.”

Added Colin McConville of Hudson: “We have a lot more space, there are more mannequins, and we’ve got a new teaching lab.”

Use of computerized simulation mannequins — that breathe, react, and have vital signs like real patients — have been part of the CVTC Nursing program at River Falls for years. However, the new simulation lab, which opened in January, seems to be a vast improvement.

“Our environment here is more representative of an actual hospital room,” said Simulation Technician Cynthia Anderson, registered nurse. “The old lab was about half the size of one room in the new lab, and had a noisy air compressor in the room to run the mannequins. Our air compressor is now in another room.”

The mannequins were used to be placed on something like old hospital gurneys. Now there are real hospital beds for the mannequins and sometimes live people playing patients.

“We’re not tripping on cords anymore,” said Bethany Geske, a nursing student who lives in Menomonie, in reference to power cords to the equipment that used to be taped down but are now under the floor.

The lighting is far better, and includes a large window to provide natural light, but set high enough to prevent outside distractions and watchers.

Even small details, like the addition of an in-lab telephone, are important. Students sometimes have to call a doctor or pharmacist (played by an instructor) from the simulator bedside.

“They get the experience of calling the physician, and learning how to speak with the physician,” said Anderson, a registered nurse since 1990 with years of experience at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn.

An adjacent Learning Resource Center (LRC) for the nursing program is also an important addition.

The center is equipped with smaller artificial body parts like arms, hands and heads. Students practice skills such as making injections and inserting intravenous needles.

For CVTC Nursing students, doing homework involves more than reading a textbook.

“I’ve used it on occasion to practice skills like suctions and inserting catheters,” McConville said.

Another major addition to the program this term is “Noel,” a birth mother simulator. The mannequin actually simulates the birth of a little rubber baby newborn, with realistic vital signs and potential problems for the mother.

“The baby can be born breach, with a stuck shoulder, or with respiratory difficulty,” Anderson said, mentioning a few of the complications.

A newborn infant simulator, separate from the rubber birth baby, is also new. It shows vital signs and reacts like the adult models.

A newborn baby can have a bluish hue, which is normal and soon fades. The simulator is sophisticated enough for instructors to prolong the bluish tint and observe when students notice it as a matter of concern.

“We didn’t have the baby mannequin before this year,” said Natalie Miranda, a student from Lakeland, Minn. “We would have to drive to Eau Claire to do that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CVCT grad is also EMT trainer

December 20, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brickner urged her fellow graduates to go beyond their professions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From “Latest equipment helps prepare students for job market” — Instructor assistant Corey Wegner proudly shows off a steel cutout in the shape of an elk, done in such fine detail that the texture of the hairs on the elk’s neck is apparent. The metal was cut on the latest piece of equipment in the welding shop at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Amazingly, the metal was cut without applying any heat, and in fact, it is specifically because no heat was used that the detail was so fine.

A Flow waterjet cutter did the job, and students enrolled for the fall term will be learning how to use it. It’s another example of how CVTC continues to stay on the “cutting edge” of manufacturing equipment. It’s rare indeed for the graduate of a CVTC manufacturing program to enter the workforce and be baffled by the technology. The college is generally ahead of the curve.

“We are constantly talking to companies, and they are very good about telling us what the new trends are. The college is very good at keeping up with that,” says Jeff Sullivan, associate dean of manufacturing.

A case in point is the waterjet cutter, which uses a high pressure fine stream of water to cut metal in fine detail.

“It’s cutting using the erosion process instead of heat, so you don’t get the heat-affected areas you do from heat cutting,” says Walter Quaschnick, head of the welding program. Intense heat can affect the properties of the metal being cut.

“And because we use water, we can cut through other things like ceramic, wood and rubber,” Quaschnick continues. “It’s a unique type of cutting process.”

One of the biggest applications is in cutting stainless steel, which is susceptible to rusting if cut with a torch. One local company, Midwest Stainless in Menomonie, uses a waterjet and appreciates that CVTC manufacturing graduates are familiar with this technology.

CVTC’s strategy works two ways. Students are better prepared to enter the workforce by having training on the latest equipment, and the fact that trained workers are available encourages industry to modernize. It’s how education can drive economic development.

Also new at CVTC this year is a Haas VM-2 unit in the machine tool area. Sullivan notes it is capable of a 1,000-rpm spindle speed. “If you make an analogy, it would be like a standard computer compared to a high-speed computer,” Sullivan said.

Examples of such high-technology capability at CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center area abound:

  • The welding program has a computer interface so students can evaluate their techniques with a computer program.
  • The machine tool program has the capability of micro-machining.
  • The industrial mechanic program has an assembly line simulator in which students can troubleshoot problems.
  • The nanoengineering technology program has a Class 100 cleanroom, unique in the state.

CVTC’s manufacturing technology is so sophisticated that the college receives requests from private industry to use it, which is possible through the college’s Equipment Access Program.

Chippewa Valley Technical College campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west-central Wisconsin. It is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.


GED changes coming soon

November 7, 2013

From “As new GED test rollout approaches, rush is on” —  Americans who want to finish the GED test are at the 11th hour, before a new version rolls out in January.

The GED tests are changing in January 2014. The new high school equivalency exam will wipe out all incomplete GED test scores from the 2002 version of the exam.

The Chippewa Valley Technical College says if you’ve already passed a portion of the five tests, you must take the writing test by December 5th and everything else by December 13th.

“Any student who hasn’t finished their GED, needs to get into their nearest CVTC Learning Center as soon as possible and complete the remaining tests that they have,” said instructor in Adult Education Services and department chair Jill Mayer.

Mayer said the January 2014 tests are completely different and based on the Common Core Standards. There would be five exams instead of four in the subjects of language arts, social studies, science and math.

“And they’ll be computer based,” said Mayer. “We’ll be dealing with a lot of teaching students computer skills and keyboarding and writing their essays online.”

In the math portion, she said there will be heavier focus on algebra which wasn’t the case before.

The price will also go up.

The current class for the 2002 GED testing series is $90 and that includes all five tests and the credentialing fee,” said Mayer. “And for the 2014 test, it will probably cost about $124.”

Mayer said there are still hundreds of students in the area that have to finish the test. Before the fall semester, she said CVTC had a marketing plan, sending out hundreds of postcards to student who partially took the tests, reminding them to come back and finish it.

And because of the rush, CVTC had to extend hours and double up on instructors for the GED.

One student who wants to beat the deadline is Alan Robertson who wants a change in career.

“I have all of them done except for math and writing, so two left,” said Robertson who began taking the test two years ago. “Earlier this summer I did my science one and the other two was a couple years ago so I procrastinated a little but this year I’m cracking down,” he said.

Robertson said once he gets his GED completed, he wants to continue going to school at CVTC and enroll for classes in welding.

“Something where I don’t have to worry about sitting at a desk all day, kind of a mixture of both, you’re kind of using your head and being physical (as a welder),” said Roberston.


From “Number of employers up at CVTC job fair” — Employers and potential employees got the chance to connect Wednesday thanks to a career fair held at CVTC.

More than 70 employers were on hand for the fair that was held for CVTC students and alumni. The technical college says the number of employers at the fair has increased from past years pointing to more growth in the number of jobs available in the Chippewa Valley.

Manager of Student Services Grants & Operations Natti Marlaire told us they’re “up 16 employers more than we’ve had in the past, which shows that the economy is bouncing back. Employers are specifically looking for CVTC grads, looking for the skilled worker, and it’s a great opportunity to match our business industry needs by matching them up with students who will be graduating. “

CVTC says 87% of its graduates find jobs related to their field after graduation.

From “Regional Briefs 10/18/13” — The Chippewa Valley Technical College District Board on Thursday set the 2014 levy for the 11-county district at $35.33 million, a reduction of 1.13 percent from the 2013 levy of just below $35 million.

The tax rate was set at $1.74 (rounded) per $1,000 of equalized property value, down from $1.77 in 2013. The rate means a person with a $100,000 home would pay $173.63 in property taxes to support the technical college.

These figures are down slightly from the tax levy and tax rate that was anticipated in May when the board set the budget for the new fiscal year.

There was some uncertainty about the state budget and district property values in May, said Kirk Moist, CVTC finance and budget director. However, a 1.49 percent increase in property values in the district helped lower the tax rate.

While technical college property tax levies had been frozen in recent years, for 2014 the state budget allowed for an increase in the tax levy for operations based on the value of new construction in the district. For the CVTC district, new construction valued at about $268 million allowed for an operational levy increase of $329,963.

Moist said the board decided to take advantage of the allowable increase due to uncertainty over future state aid formulas.


From “International training” — Luke Edrich was about 4,000 miles from home, but felt right at home at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire last month.

Edrich, a paramedic practitioner from Crawley, Sussex in Great Britain, enrolled in an International Trauma Life Support (ITLS) class at CVTC, reviewing and learning alongside American professional and student paramedics and EMTs.

Because of the ITLS affiliation of the class, the training Edrich received will be accepted by his National Health System employer when he returns.

“It’s very similar,” Edrich said, comparing the training at CVTC to classes he’s had in his home country. “The teachers are excellent. I’ve never had a college-based trauma course back home.”

The training is similar because it’s standardized through the ITLS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to trauma training and education. EMTs and paramedics in 43 countries can demonstrate their competence to their employers through ITLS certification, which verifies training the professionals previously received.

CVTC is the Wisconsin chapter and training center for ITLS, hosting ITLS classes at its Emergency Education Center and providing the training at other locations around the state through its ITLS chapter.

CVTC offers a four-week class in trauma, and such classes are available at many other institutions as well. However, the quality and standards can vary greatly, said Jeff Asher, a CVTC paramedic instructor.

“Employers want some kind of a capstone course where they know what content the student had,” Asher said. “The ITLS class provides that.”

The ITLS chapter at CVTC was established five years ago. Prior to that, emergency response professionals in Wisconsin had to take an ITLS class through a chapter at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea, Minn., or at one sponsored by the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians.

“Between 2008 and now, we’ve trained about 120 a year, both CVTC students and outsiders. Statewide, we’ve trained about 650 people,” Asher said. “Every year, the numbers have been increasing.”

Not all of the people completing the course come to Eau Claire. Classes through the CVTC chapter occur at other ITLS training centers in the Fox River Valley and Madison areas. Part of the course fee for classes in those areas comes back to CVTC.

CVTC attracts participants from out of state, such as a woman from Grand Rapids, Mich., who recently took the class. Edrich was the first international student to complete the course in Eau Claire.

In 2009 Asher travelled to England, where he toured emergency medical services facilities during his visit, during which he met Edrich. Asher returned to England the following year, when he had the opportunity to ride along with Edrich on calls. As a paramedic practitioner, Edrich has a higher level of training than most of his colleagues, comparable to his having a master’s degree in the United States.

Edrich returned Asher’s visit this month, mixing professional development – which included a ride-along with the Hennepin County, Minn., service – with his time as a tourist.

“I was curious how the higher education system works and the training in health care,” Edrich said about his visit.

Edrich found the American system different in many ways from that of his homeland. For instance, in this country ambulance services are more varied and may be provided by local government or private business while in England the national government oversees those services.

However, the work paramedics do, and the standards they must meet, are universal, he said. “There are more basic skills here than we have for paramedics back home,” Edrich said.


From The Dunn County News: “CVTC students help seniors stay on their feet” — Valeriya Argo used a cell phone as a stopwatch and kept time as an elderly woman walked a pre-determined distance, turned and walked back. For the patient, the exercise was to test balance and help gauge her risk of falling. For Argo, it was a step closer to a return to a career working  with patients.

Now a Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) student from Menomonie in the Physical Therapist Assistant program, Argo is a native of Russia, where she was a medical doctor. She visited the United States five years ago, where she met her now-husband. She’s not licensed to practice here, so she turned to CVTC for a new healthcare career.

She misses working with patients.

Tuesday, Sept. 10, the second-year student had that opportunity. She was one of a small group of program students who volunteered to help with a Falls Prevention Screening event at the L.E. Phillips Senior Center in Eau Claire. The event was sponsored by the Aging and Disabilities Resource Center of Eau Claire County, which partnered with CVTC, Marshfield Clinic and others in recognition of Septem-ber as Falls Prevention Month.

Balanced approach

“Falls are a leading cause of death among people age 65 and over,” said Deb Bruning, prevention program coordinator with the resource center. “Seventy percent of emergency room visits for people over age 65 are due to falls. And 40 percent of falls are 100 percent preventable. Falling is not a normal part of aging.”

The event, and one like it scheduled for Sept. 25 at the Senior and Community Center in Augusta, was designed to determine a person’s risk of falling. For those at higher risk, follow-up with a physician or other professional is recommended.

“We were asked to provide students for each event to do balance screenings,” said Alissa Amundson, CVTC Physical Therapist Assistant instructor. “There are different short, simple tests that can be done that give a general idea of a person’s balance ability. There’s some correlation with balance as a pre-dictor of falls.”

“We’re going to find out who is at large risk. Sometimes it’s just muscle weakness. If we find out, we can help them,” said Argo.

“It’s creating an awareness for them on where their balance is. If they are at high risk, they can meet with their doctor and see what they can do to prevent falls,” said Angella Niblett, a CVTC student from Chippewa Falls.

Argo timed people starting out from a seated position, standing and walking a few steps at a meas-ured distance, then returning to sit down.

Stand up, sit down

“I’m helping with the 30-second chair stand,” said Angie Burgess, a student from Eau Claire. “They cross their arms and put their hands on their shoulders and completely sit down and completely stand up as many times as they can in 30 seconds.”

Burgess was excited about getting started in her new career. A university graduate with degrees in Spanish and kinesiology, she hit the job market just as the economy turned bad.

“I heard about a job as a physical therapist assistant, but found I wasn’t qualified, so I went back to school.”

“This is a change of careers for me,” said Niblett. “I previously did management (in healthcare) and decided I wanted to be on the side that was working with patients.”

Amundson said the work the students were doing at the screening is typical for physical therapy assistants. Students in the program also volunteer at other events where their skills can come in handy, such as helping Special Olympics with athlete screenings.

Bruning was excited to have the students and other volunteers who helped with the event, which included a dietician from the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources with help from a UW-Stout student, vision screening with a volunteer from the UW Health Family Medical Clinic in CVTC’s Health Education Center, a medication review station with a Sacred Heart Hospital pharmacist and University of Minnesota students, and a physical therapist from Marshfield Clinic.

Those wishing to attend the upcoming screening in Augusta should contact the Aging & Disability Resource Center at 715-839-4735 or 1-888-338-4636.

From “CVTC students return for new term: New conference center, program among changes” — A group of Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) students sat in the commons of the Business Education Center Monday morning with laptops open and running. They were already reviewing a schedule of homework assignments and upcoming quizzes for the new school term, which just opened that morning.

They had a number of common classes because they were all enrolled in the liberal arts program. CVTC is seeing an increase in the number of students enrolling in liberal arts, which include general education classes in communications, math, science and other areas. The reason for the increased interest in the program is economic.

“It didn’t make logical sense to spend twice the money for the same program,” said Alex Martinez, a second-year student and Eau Claire North graduate. He plans to transfer to UW-Eau Claire to study finance after earning his general education credits at CVTC.

Tuition at CVTC is about $4,000 a year, compared with an average of about $7,000 at Wisconsin’s four-year universities.


“This will be my last full year at CVTC, then I’ll be transferring,” said Ethan Thomson, another Eau Claire North graduate. “I am going to UW-Eau Claire for the Earth and Space Science Education program.”

Kassonere King, who attended both North and Memorial high schools in Eau Claire, wants a four-year degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. She’s in her second semester of liberal arts classes at CVTC.


“It’s cheaper than a lot of other places and I wanted to stay in my hometown for my first year,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to stay here or transfer to a college in the Twin Cities.”

Program focus

Most students arriving for the first day of classes were focused on specific CVTC programs. Cheryl Huebner of Elmwood and Danielle Fregine of Baldwin met one another at the Health Education Center, ready to start their classes in the AODA program. They both had personal reasons for their career choices.

“I have been through chemical dependency. It’s my goal to give back. I want to work with teenagers,” said Huebner, who admitted to being a bit nervous on the first day. “I haven’t been to school in 30 years.”

Like many CVTC students, Huebner will be balancing raising a family and holding down a full-time job with her studies. “But this is my chance. I have to change my career,” she said.

“Someone very, very close to me decided to use a variety of drugs, which motivated me to not only help people who use drugs, but the people they affect,” Fregine said.

Over at the Manufacturing Education Center, Steve Forster of Mondovi and Corie Bergeron of Chippewa Falls were ready to get started in the Electromechanical Technology program. They both come with manufacturing experience.

“I’ve been working in manufacturing for seven years,” said Forster. “One of my jobs was at Phillips Plastics and I was intrigued by the automation. I thought I would go back to school and get a degree and learn how to fix them myself.”

Bergeron worked with automated equipment at National Presto. “I had a lot of interaction with engineers in the manufacturing department,” he said. “I like the troubleshooting and problem solving, using my brain.”


New this year at CVTC is a two-year Industrial Mechanical Technician program, an extension of the one-year Industrial Mechanic program. This program prepares graduates to install, maintain, operate, diagnose and repair equipment used in manufacturing industries.

Also new in the manufacturing area is a water jet metal cutter in the Welding program. The equipment uses water under high pressure to cut metal, avoiding the damage to the metal that heat cutting can cause.

A major facility change can be found at the Business Education Center, where a new dividable conference center has replaced the former auditorium. The center gives CVTC an ideal space for holding large meetings and banquets. Use of the conference center is open to the public.

From “CVTC plans info session on equipment access program” — Area businesses can gain firsthand information about how they can access equipment and development space at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s NanoRite Innovation Center through an upcoming information session.

The session will be held Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 4-5 p.m. at the NanoRite Innovation Center, 2322 Alpine Road in Eau Claire. Participants are asked to RSVP by Aug. 13 at or by calling 715-874-4672.

Businesses can access machining equipment and space at the center for business development or proof-of-concept analysis without displacing their current production equipment. A wide variety of specialized equipment is available, including manufacturing technologies, microscopy and class 100 cleanroom equipment. A complete list of equipment available is at

The information session will include a tour of the center and equipment areas, and the opportunity to learn how the NanoRite Innovation Center can benefit businesses or individual entrepreneurs with their development plans.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.

From “Message in a canister: CVTC dedicates time capsule” — Take a pinch of hydroponic basil, add some cosmos flower seeds and a sample of biodiesel fuel, seal them up with about 80 other items, and what do you get?

Check back in 25 years. That’s when the big canister containing those items will be unearthed and unsealed so people of that time can know more about the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) of today. The dedication and sealing of a time capsule Monday was the final act in the College’s Centennial celebration that went on all of last year.

The dedication took place just before a CVTC board meeting. Also at the ceremony, a time capsule originally dedicated in 1987 and unsealed last September as part of the Centennial celebration, was rededicated. Both time capsules are scheduled to be opened in 2037, when CVTC celebrates its 125th anniversary.

CVTC President Bruce Barker said the time capsules are a way for CVTC to stay connected to its community, its past and its mission.

“As we build on the success and dedication of our predecessors, we move forward to meet the challenges and opportunities of our day, remaining focused on our mission,” Barker said. “We know that over time that mission will be passed on to a new generation that will carry on and keep strong the connections to community and history that we feel so strongly today. Our own time capsule being dedicated here today will be our message to that future generation.”

The time capsule includes a letter from Barker to the future president of CVTC, and a wide variety of items. Some of the items, like a scissors set from the Barber-Cosmetology program and a lineworker’s handbook from the Electrical Power Distribution program, relate to specific CVTC programs. Other materials relate to student life, such as a graduation tassel, diploma covers, student handbooks and a commencement program.

Copies of CVTC Magazine, marketing materials describing major programs, copies of the College’s budget and president’s report, and a report on restoring workforce development relate some of the issues facing CVTC today.

One might wonder today what the people 25 years from now will think of stickers declaring “Recall Scott Walker” and “I Stand With Scott Walker.” The stickers are included, along with many Centennial memorabilia items. One might also wonder if the flash drive put in the time capsule will be looked at in 2037 the same way the people of today looked upon the VCR tapes found in the 1987 time capsule.

The time capsules were sealed in large plastic canisters and placed underground in chambers lined with drain tile, and covered with a stone marker. They are part of the College’s Centennial Circle in front of the Business Education Center on Clairemont Avenue in Eau Claire.


From “CVTC to create training center for heating, cooling technologies” — Employer demand for technicians skilled in the newest energy-efficient heating and cooling technologies is prompting Chippewa Valley Technical College to budget $1.3 million toward training facilities.

Vacant building space in CVTC’s Transportation Center on its West Campus would undergo transformation into a training center in new heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

“We’d like to start a new program called sustainable facilities management,” said Doug Olson, the college’s executive director of facilities and community relations.

Companies have been interested in upgrading their heating and cooling systems to more energy-efficient ones, Olson said, but they’ve been reluctant due to a lack of technicians who know how to program and maintain the latest high-tech computer-controlled systems.

Vehicle bays in the Transportation Center were too small for newer semitrailer chassis, requiring CVTC to move that program into a leased building last year, leaving its old space empty.

“The existing space had sat idle, so we decided to renovate that space and deploy it again,” said Kirk Moist, CVTC’s director of finance and budgeting.

Renovations to the Transportation Center still would need approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System Board and other state panels before work could begin, Olson noted.

Also included in CVTC’s proposed 2013-14 budget is ongoing renovation to the college’s Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave.

The college has been modernizing its main building for the past three years and is continuing this coming school year with more than $1 million in renovation projects, Moist said.

Most of the work is designed to move staff offices and other areas students seldom visit to the basement level, freeing up space on the main floor.

“Anything that’s either student-focused in terms of classrooms, labs or student services, we want on the first floor,” Olson said.

Carried over from the previous year’s budget is spending toward the $7.9 million Energy Education Center planned for the West Campus.

School officials have said that center — a combination of remodeling and additions to existing buildings — only would be done when about $1 million in private sector donations is received.

Tax impact

Even with a rise in capital projects proposed in the 2013-14 budget, the impact on taxpayers and increase to CVTC spending is small.

“We’re describing this as a ‘stagnant revenue environment,’ ” Moist said.

Federal and state contributions to CVTC also will be similar to what they were for the 2012-13 budget, he added.

Property taxes collected by CVTC are expected to decline by $400,000. The result to homeowners will be a 41-cent tax increase for CVTC on property tax bills that will be mailed in December for a home valued at $100,000.

Technical colleges currently are held to one of the strictest property tax levy limits in Wisconsin, which Moist anticipates will be relaxed in the upcoming state budget. That still will only allow CVTC to raise its tax levy in proportion to the value of new construction in its district — similar to the levy limits placed on municipal governments.

The proposed property tax levy for CVTC is $35 million out of a 2013-14 budget with total spending of $90.9 million.

Property values are again projected to fall in CVTC’s 11-county tax district.

“We are predicting it will fall one more time and that will be the fifth year in the row that has happened,” Moist said.

Valued at $20 billion in the current budget, Moist projects a 1.36 percent drop in property values, settling at $19.78 billion in the 2014 fiscal year.

The Technical College System Board did agree to raise tuition by 4.5 percent for the upcoming school year.


From “Instructor’s passion for manufacturing evident” — Tom Vanderloop’s enthusiasm is contagious. His students in manufacturing programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College feel it, and so do the members of the student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, for which he is chapter advisor.

“Tom has an extreme passion for everything he teaches, and for SME,” said Bob Grzegorek, chairman of the student chapter. “He got me more passionate about it to become chairman. We went from four student members to 22. We worked hard to do better.”

“The passion is very real in him,” said Jim Barbey, a May CVTC graduate who served as an SME student chapter officer. “It’s not just something he says or does; it’s real. That’s really why I joined SME.”

Vanderloop’s passion and service to SME dates to his first involvement in the organization in the 1970s. Now SME is recognizing his contributions, through the Faculty Advisor Professional Development Award, a national honor he is to receive at the SME annual meeting in Baltimore, Md., June 2-4. The award comes with a $500 stipend, which Vanderloop donated to the CVTC Foundation scholarship fund for the betterment of students in manufacturing programs.

Vanderloop has taught technical education for the past 38 years, including 28 at CVTC. He looks to his roots for inspiration.

“So much of what I do today came from my Christian father, mother and family. (My) attributes stem from a life within a healthy family environment,” he said.

The word “manufacture,” Vanderloop said, is derived from a French root meaning “made by hand.”

“It was the story I have always found from within my father’s work ethic. Manufacturing is a good and noble profession as a career for life,” he said. “My goal is simple: Love what you do and that passion will show up every day. Most students know I love my role as a teacher. It is manufacturing that guides my professional contributions.”

Vanderloop’s contributions to SME have occurred throughout his career. He first joined the organization in 1968 when he was a student at Fox Valley Technical Institute in Appleton. He remained involved as an undergraduate student at UW-Stout in the early ’70s, then as an assistant professor there in the early ’80s.

Vanderloop became the SME North Central Region chairman and served in various offices in the region. With the SME Indianhead Chapter in Eau Claire, he served at various times as chairman, bulletin editor, recruitment and retention committee official, student chapter liaison, faculty advisor, technical programming official and certification official.

In 2010 Vanderloop was named the SME’s President’s Circle with a gold-level status for having recruited more than 125 people to SME.

A measure of an educator’s success is in the level of their students’ achievement. The list of successful CVTC students Vanderloop has taught and led is a long one.

The founding SME student chapter chairman from 1985, Kevin Gottwalt, is now with Cardiac Pacemakers in St. Paul. In 1987, Chairman Mark Senti pushed the chapter to encourage students to seek SME certification as manufacturing technologists through a difficult test. SME recognized the chapter for its efforts when Chris Hurt was chairman in 2000-01; Hurt is metal fabrication CAD designer with Wisconsin Metal Fab in Chippewa Falls.

In all, more than 200 CVTC students have passed the test since 1985, a remarkable level of success, Vanderloop said.

Jill King, the 1997-98 SME chapter chairwoman, helped organize the first-ever Challengers and Choices program, designed to introduce middle school-age girls to career choices in manufacturing. The effort earned a national award of excellence.

“It’s a good marker not just for myself, but for the college,” Vanderloop said. “If I’ve got good students, they make me look good.”


From “New CVTC dental hygienist grad focuses now on charity work” — Randi Johnson’s luggage and passport will be ready at home while she crosses the stage at Friday evening’s Chippewa Valley Technical College commencement ceremony.

Just hours after getting her associate degree, the 22-year-old Eau Claire woman and others from CVTC will be on a plane to Mexico to use their skills as dental hygienists to help children at an orphanage in Puebla, near Mexico City.

She’s hoping this is just her first trip of many to provide charitable dental care.

“My main thing is, I wanted to do mission work,” said the 2009 Eau Claire Memorial High School graduate.

The mission trip will last from Saturday through Thursday of next week, during which she and five others from CVTC’s dental hygiene program will educate 75 children and teenagers in oral health and provide a standard cleaning.

Milwaukee dentists had been making the trip for years to do routine checkups. Megan Douglas, a 2011 CVTC graduate, suggested the idea of adding dental hygienists to give the children tips to keep their teeth healthy.

“What kids haven’t had is the prevention piece,” CVTC dental hygienist instructor Debbie Schumacher said.

Schumacher, Douglas, Johnson and three more CVTC students will be the first dental hygienists to make the journey.

After getting to know the children on Sunday, they will do 75 cleanings during the following three days.

“This isn’t vacation, and we know that,” Schumacher said. “Our mission is to provide care for all of the kids.”

They’ll bring donated dental supplies and money for toothbrushes along with them.

Johnson’s five years of middle and high school Spanish might come in handy, though she notes that the Mexican orphanage has English classes for the children. The CVTC team also has a cheat sheet of common dental terms translated into Spanish.

This is Johnson’s first foray into mission work, though she has raised money for charity, and her family sponsors a couple of children in India.

Johnson hopes to fit at least one mission trip in per year during her career as a dental hygienist. She’s had an interest in oral hygiene since she’d enjoyed going to the dentist as a child.

“Once I was in high school, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.

With only a dozen spots in each year of the CVTC dental hygiene program, Johnson got on the waiting list during her senior year at Memorial.

The program currently has a 120-name-long waiting list to get in, Schumacher noted, but it usually ends up taking three to four years for a student to get to the top of the list.

There used to be 18 spots for students each year, she said, but that was exceeding the CVTC area’s need for dental hygienists.

“At about 12, we’re seeing people are getting jobs,” Schumacher said.

After graduating this week, Johnson plans to continue her education through online classes to achieve a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.


From “CVTC students learn house construction on the job” — CHIPPEWA FALLS — A group of Chippewa Valley Technical College students is getting hands-on experience building job skills for their futures while helping prospective home buyers at the same time.

For the past three years CVTC has partnered with the Chippewa County Housing Authority to provide homes for low- to moderate-income residents. CVTC students help build the homes, which are sold to people who may not otherwise be able to afford them.

The homes will be listed for sale at $165,000 apiece, said Ruth Rosenow, Chippewa County Housing Authority director. Purchasers of the homes built by CVTC students must earn at least $22,600 annually but cannot make more than $36,600, she said.

“This program helps CVTC students and, at the same time, the people buying these homes,” Rosenow said.

On Tuesday Matt Burke, a 20-year-old CVTC student from Chippewa Falls, worked on a deck of one of two homes he and 13 college students have built in Chippewa Falls along Stump Lake Road on the city’s east side.

Burke had never worked in construction before signing up for the class. He’s pleased with the finished product and the skills he has learned.

“It’s nice to see what you can accomplish,” Burke said. “I just like working outside. You’re in different places, and you are always doing something different.”

Joe Dahmer, 19, a CVTC student from Menomonie who has helped construct the homes, said he has worked construction jobs with his father since he was 13. He has even traveled to Mexico to build homes as part of church mission trips.

“I really enjoy construction,” Dahmer said. “I decided to go into the program because it’s hands-on, and you can’t do that anywhere else.”

Brian Barth has taught the CVTC residential construction program for the past nine years. He said his students are quick learners who enjoy their work.

“They get the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day,” he said of students building homes.

Students are putting their hands-on construction experience to good use. Of his 14 current students, 11 have construction jobs lined up for after they graduate, Barth said.

“The construction industry, there is going to be an extreme shortage of workers in the next few years,” he said, noting the sector is recovering after several slow years.

Rosenow said her organization purchased eight lots in a neighborhood on the east side of Chippewa Falls to be used as sites for homes built by CVTC students. The two 1,300-square-foot homes built this year have identical floor plans.

The housing authority financed the $235,000 project, with home sale proceeds to go toward the housing authority’s revolving loan fund. Neither of the two homes has been purchased yet, but they would be ready for someone to purchase by Friday, Rosenow said.


From “Prescott High School students laud dual credit to fight college costs” — Prescott High School Junior Courtney Krenig has a dream of enrolling in medical school and becoming a doctor specializing in sports and athletics-related health. Krenig plans to start out locally, though, at UW-River Falls.

Actually, she has already started on her college coursework with a class in Medical Terminology at Prescott High School. Through the class, she is earning not only credits toward her high school graduation, but credits at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), which are transferrable to a number of universities, including UWRF. Already having those credits will save her hundreds of dollars in tuition and fees at college.

The program is called “dual credit,” and its use has been growing rapidly in school districts throughout CVTC’s 11-county area, and in other technical college districts throughout the state.

At a time when college costs and resulting student debt are rising, families are looking for ways to cut costs and the time spent in college. Dual credit is designed to do both and is ideal for a student like Krenig, who found she was getting an extra benefit from a class she planned to take anyway.

“I didn’t know it was dual credit until I got here, but I’m happy I will get the credits. I took it to save time, so I didn’t have to take it in college. Now they will be like elective credits for me in college,” she said.

With dual credit, students earn full credit directly from the technical college, just as if the student took the class at the college.

“They get credit on their (CVTC) transcript right away. They don’t have to apply for it. That credit can transfer to a university too,” said CVTC Registrar Jessica Schwartz. “We are looking for ways to create pathways from high school to CVTC, and to their bachelor’s degree at a university.”

From “Girl Scouts honor CVTC instructor Judi Anibas” — EAU CLAIRE – When Judi Anibas overheard an inappropriate comment during one of the classes she teaches at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC) Law Enforcement Academy, she thought it was time for a quick real-world exercise.

The 25-year veteran of the Eau Claire Police Department had all of the students privately write down the names of four women who they loved and respected and were important in their lives. Then she asked the (mostly male) class if they would ever make such a comment to or about one of those women.

“There was dead silence,” Anibas says. She went on to insist that no such comments would be heard again in that class, and she didn’t need to know who made it. The students, like the law enforcement officers they aspire to become, are to be held to the highest standards of integrity, and sensitivity to the members of the public they serve.

Upholding standards in such a way is one of the reasons the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes honored Anibas at its annual Women of Courage, Confidence and Character banquet Monday evening, April 1. The award honors area women who demonstrate a commitment to serving their communities and embody the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character.

Anyone who knows Judi Anibas will agree that she has those qualities, and a look at her career shows her commitment to serving the community.

Originally from Milwaukee, the UW-Platteville criminal justice program graduate took the first law enforcement job offered to her, with the city of Eau Claire. She was put on a walking beat in the Water Street area, an area with taverns frequented by the local college crowd.

“You see more because you’re on foot,” she recalls. There were enough problems to deal with, including motorcycle gangs and drugs, but she also got to know the local residents and business owners and learned to listen to their concerns.

“Doing that really assisted me later when I had an inside job in crime prevention,” Anibas says.

In the following years, Anibas took on just about every duty that comes the way of a law enforcement officer. She was a patrol officer for nine years, spent four years as a detective and then went back to patrol. She learned to deal with child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence cases and so much more, both as an officer responding to calls and as a detective investigating them.

That role of being the one catching the bad guys held much satisfaction for her, but so did the other duties she took on over the years. She became a hostage negotiator, firearms instructor, evidence technician, community policing specialist and eventually law enforcement instructor.

Anibas says she particularly liked working with community organizations and neighborhood watch groups. She came to appreciate the value of listening, and learned that what people often wanted from their police force was different from what police themselves thought of their duties.

“Wherever I worked I enjoyed myself,” she says. “But it was great to meet people who really enjoyed their community and had respect for the police.

“The cool thing is I can use all of that today when I teach community policing,” she added.

Anibas joined CVTC in 1992 as an instructor and became full time in 2006. She became Dean of the Law Enforcement and other areas, is still working as an instructor in the program, and as a safety instructor for the Business and Industry team.

She has as much enthusiasm for teaching as she does for law enforcement. “It’s inspirational, knowing that with the experience I’ve had I can give back to students.”

Anibas has been generous with her time outside of work as well. Anibas served as president of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Association of Women Police, Eau Claire Police Benevolent Association, Eau Claire Police Local 9, and Eau Claire Police Supervisors Local 39. She has been involved with Indianhead Special Olympics, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and is the current president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin board of directors.


From “L.E. Phillips donation funds $1.5M to $2M CVTC fire training center” — A fire and paramedic training center projected to cost between $1.5 and $2 million is expected to be built this year at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s West Campus in Eau Claire and completed by September, thanks to donations from the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation and the technical college’s foundation.

On Friday, CVTC officials announced plans for the state-of-the-art center, which will be used not only to teach new firefighters, but also for training by volunteer firefighting organizations across the region.

CVTC President Bruce Barker declined to release the amount of the donations but said they will pay for a majority of the project.

“This will improve the skills, not just for our future firefighters, but it allows our current firefighters to hone their skills,” he said.

Barker said the center will be built at a yet-to-be determined site on 180 available acres on the West Campus, east of Mill Run Golf Course, just off Highway 312/U.S.12. It will fill a much-needed niche, he said.

“We’ve been talking about this type of facility for quite some time,” Barker said. “Certainly, the need has been identified in the past. It’s just in the past couple of months that funding has become available.”

Part of the project will comprise a “burn room,” a 50-by-50-foot site designed to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees. The site also will include an adjacent observation room and staging areas.

In addition, the building will include space for storing emergency service vehicles. Storing equipment such as a ladder truck CVTC bought last year will extend its life, Barker said.

“We’re still developing the floor plan,” he said. “You’d have rooms that you can watch, because you can have fires reaching 2,000 degrees. Some of those (fires) you want to do in a closed environment, especially if you’re talking flammable liquids and things like that. You want to keep your variables down.”

CVTC fire services instructor Marcy Bruflat praised the planned center.

“A facility of this type has been a dream of the people who work in the emergency services fields for quite some time,” Bruflat said. “This facility will truly make a difference in the preparations of the professionals who want to be as ready as they can be when members of the public call on them in times of emergency.”

Lewis E. Phillips, the founder of the Phillips Family Foundation, was a CVTC board member for 23 years.

“My grandfather would have been so pleased to know that his foundation has helped make the planned facility a reality,” said Maryjo Cohen, the foundation’s president, and chairwoman and CEO of National Presto Industries.

From “CVTC’s new Fire and Paramedic Training Center will benefit the community” — All of our area Fire and Police Departments along with volunteer Firefighters in smaller towns will soon have access to a brand new training facility.

It’s part of a new Fire and Paramedic Training Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

CVTC calls the new center a “state of the art” facility. When it’s finished, it’ll include a live burn area; a preparation and observation area; storage for emergency service vehicles; and a physical fitness training area for the fire, paramedic and law enforcement students.

“We really emphasize the applied learning, the hands-on learning. We want to replicate real life situations as much as possible so when they do happen students and the existing workers will have that experience and more confidence,” said the President of CVTC Bruce Barker.

“The hands-on training is very, very important. It allows us to have that firefighter to go from a new firefighter to a productive firefighter a lot quicker,” said Deputy Chief of the Eau Claire Fire Rescue, Scott Burkart.

Burkart said a fair share of new firefighters that are hired, have attended CVTC. And the more experience they have right away, the more beneficial it is to the community the department serves.

“It’s less ‘on the job’ type of training that we have to do. That is a cost savings to us also,” said Burkart.

The Eau Claire Fire Department also has a mutual aid agreement with a lot of surrounding fire departments.

Burnkart said knowing the training came from one institution, will help everyone to mesh much better, and react quicker.

“Everyone will benefit from it, not only the firefighters, but also the communities too, because it’s a cost effective way to get that experience and training that we can’t receive any other place,” said Burkart.

“Our police and fire deal with life-threatening situation all the time, so providing them better training; they will be more aped to have confidence to perform better in those situations. It may save your life or my life someday,” said Barker.

The CVTC foundation and L.E. Philips Family Foundation came up with the money for the facility. The construction is expected to start toward the end of May and be ready for the students this Fall.


From “Chi-Hi students turn scrap metal into school mascot” — 

Dan Hietpas can tell his welding students to build a trailer hitch and it easily gets done. They eye the details, draw a design and build to the specs.


Ask them to build a metal sculpture of a cardinal out of random material, and that takes a bit more effort.

“This is very abstract,” Hietpas said. “They had to dig around a little bit; it takes that creative art side of these kids to pull something together from garbage.”

About 10 students in Hietpas’ advanced welding class at Chi-Hi are competing in the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s “Junk Yard Wars.”

Area schools participating in the competition are required to build replicas of their school’s mascot out of scrap metal. The students will then present their projects to a panel of judges at CVTC.

“It’s a neat way for them to keep in contact with CVTC,” Hietpas said. “It’s a real nice tie-in to Chippewa Valley Tech.”

Sophomore Steven Schmidt, 16, said the most difficult part was fitting the satellite, which functions as the breast and abdomen of the cardinal.

He said the project calls for more spot welding, since students are handling smaller pieces, which can pose additional challenges.

“You can’t just go to town on it,” Schmidt said.

The cardinal’s feet are made from old rotors, and the beak, wings and rest of the frame are built from old scrap metal left over from projects that didn’t turn out.

Hietpas said 80 percent of the resources used to build the cardinal are required to be recyclable.

The class scurried to finish the project Wednesday, which Schmidt said might not be painted.

“I don’t think we’re going to win,” he said. “We started late.”

Thorp’s class is also building a cardinal.

“We’ll see who has the best cardinal out of the two,” Schmidt said.

The first-place group will be awarded a mini-welder, which Hietpas estimated at $1,000. The cardinal will probably be displayed in the welding classroom after the competition. The project serves as a mid-term for students.

Advanced welding classes have participated in the Junk Yard Wars in previous years, but this is Hietpas’ first year teaching at Chi-Hi.

“These kids are sharp; they’re good welders,” he said. “I had to take a lot of classes to catch up to them.”

After the project, the class will begin work on a flip-flop chicken grill that they will donate as a door prize for STEM night, which teaches students about careers available in science, math and technology fields.


From “Annual event offers opportunity to explore careers, learn technology” — The Chippewa Valley Technical College annual Manufacturing Show lives up to its name.

The March 7 event features the latest and greatest when it comes to technology, from the application of micro technology in regional products to the use of sound to test welding quality to the formation of industry-education partnerships to prepare new workers.

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

The public will be able to learn about the careers available in manufacturing at the event.

Joining those companies will be representatives of CVTC’s manufacturing programs: electromechanical technology, industrial mechanic, machine tooling technics, and welding/welding fabrication, as well as Manufacturing, nanotechnology and industrial engineering programs.

Together CVTC and its private-sector partners will present the modern face of manufacturing, with its increasing use of the latest technology.

“This year’s show will have a strong focus on the skills gap – the fact that there are a lot of manufacturing jobs but a shortage of people with the skills to fill them,” said Mark Hendrickson, special projects coordinator in the manufacturing area for CVTC. “We’re inviting employers in so they can tell about what they need in modern manufacturing employees.”

The event also will emphasize technologies involved in manufacturing today.

“People don’t realize how much of modern manufacturing technology is being applied locally,” Hendrickson said.

To demonstrate, presentations will be held during the event, from 3 to 8 p.m. at CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center, 2320 Alpine Road, Eau Claire. Presentations will cover such subjects as the latest in metal-cutting technologies, the use of nano and micro technology to change properties of organic matter, and developments in types of metal surfaces.

R-Con, a Menomonie company, will demonstrate ultrasonic analysis of welds, using sound waves to look into the body of a metal weld. Realityworks, an Eau Claire company with a national reputation as a pioneer in simulation technology, will have a presentation on partnerships between industry and education. Participants will also be able to try their hand at welding on a simulator.

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

Another event highlight will be the debut of an excerpt from the next Edge Factor video. The Edge Factor Show features action-packed episodes that unlock the exciting world of manufacturing, inspiring a new generation to explore careers in the field.

“We will preview the introduction to the latest video,” said Hendrickson.

Back from last year’s manufacturing show will be competitions involving area high school teams. For the Junkyard Battle welding competition, teams will create welded sculptures of their school mascots. A school logo design competition will demonstrate school teams’ machine tool skills.

In addition, two poster contests will focus on engineering technology, particularly micro and nano technology.

This summer’s NASCAR-themed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) camp will be previewed at the manufacturing show, with a demonstration of the model cars camp participants will be working on during the June 17-21 event.

From “Grant funds available for worker training” — Area businesses have the opportunity to upgrade the skills and productivity of their employees through training programs funded in part by the State of Wisconsin Workforce Advancement Training grants.

Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) is accepting requests through April 5 for consideration for such training programs, for training sessions to be held between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

The training, available to for-profit businesses operating in Wisconsin, can include any combination of academic, occupational and employability topics or courses.

Grants anticipated to be available through this program are awarded to promote increased investment in the development of incumbent workers, improve Wisconsin business productivity and competitiveness, and augment the state’s economic base by expanding technical college training services to business and industry. The program also has the broader objective of supporting regional workforce and economic development efforts.

Since 2008, CVTC has been awarded over $2 million in Workforce Advancement Training grants to provide training for over 6,400 workers in over 50 different companies around west central Wisconsin.

The Workforce Advancement Training Grant Request for Consideration form may be found online at For more information, call 1-800-547-CVTC (2882), ext. 4676.

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