From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC E-Seed entrepreneurship program gains national attention” — Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center has taken a bit of its own advice when it comes to helping entrepreneurs get started.

The Venture Center’s E-Seed course has helped entrepreneurs like Josh Beck get the business training and support they needed to turn their ideas into viable, growing enterprises.

Beck, who founded his 3-D printing business Beck Prototypes in May, said E-Seed’s 12-week entrepreneurship course has already helped him plan for slow, measured growth and careful planning as he gets started.

“I’m starting nice and slow, I’m getting some customers now and I’m going through the motions. Now, it’s about time to start some marketing and start trying to generate more revenue,” Beck said. “I wouldn’t have done this without E-Seed. E-Seed gives you the tools and shows you the door, but you have to learn from what they show you and walk through those doors when the opportunity arises.”

In the 13-plus years since it was founded, the Venture Center’s entrepreneur-education programs like E-Seed and, its bigger sister, the Pro-Seed business-model development program for established businesses, have helped entrepreneurs start 320 businesses that presently employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

The success of courses like E-Seed and Pro-Seed have also earned the Venture Center one of seven $20,000 grants from Sam’s Club and the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship to help small, Main Street businesses reach the next level of sales.

Now, E-Seed itself has become the brand with an opportunity to grow and the Venture Center is the entrepreneur.

Amy Pietsch, the center’s director, said it has started to license the E-Seed curriculum and program to other community colleges, technical colleges and economic development agencies around the country as a way to foster more entrepreneurship and generate revenue for the center, which does not receive taxpayer dollars from FVTC.

Organizations can buy a license to offer the 12-week course to local business owners and entrepreneurs, but Pietsch said those groups are encouraged to share any improvements and innovations they make so as to improve the product.

“The one thing we knew about the entrepreneurship environment was we would be the little player in a big space. We had to be open to a lot of people coming back to us with ideas to make it better,” Pietsch said. “We do apply what we learn and teach here. We’re not making it up.”

The early response has been good. To date, FVTC spokesman Chris Jossart said, three community colleges in the Midwest and one entrepreneurial hub have already bought licenses to use E-Seed.

“It’s developed into such a proven product that’s simple yet personal,” Jossart said. “It’s always fresh, it’s always real and it makes very complex issues very simple.”

In addition, FVTC has reduced the cost of E-Seed by almost 50 percent, to $750, to make it more affordable for entrepreneurs to enroll.

Tina Schuelke said E-Seed has remained a key component in her small-business support network since she founded Change Management Communications Center last year. The training she got through E-Seed and the support of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Small Business Development Center recently helped her win a $5,000 prize in the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Competition.

“Once I got started with E-Seed, I realized all my attempts at business plans — and I thought I had a good one going into it — were weak. This gave me a really strong start,” Schuelke said. “This is my first business launch. Now that I have those courses as a foundation, I’m already thinking about other businesses I want to start or become a part of.”

From postcrescent.com: “Milestone reached in FVTC job search program” — APPLETON – The JobSeekers Network program at Fox Valley Technical College welcomed its 1,000th participant in November, making the free offering to the community one of the fastest-growing job search efforts in the Midwest.

JSN started as a support group at FVTC four years ago, and it has now grown into a curriculum-based job search program that teaches how to land a career using skilled networking practices and more.

The program also developed an optional textbook for participants and the community, the Human Search Engine, and its LinkedIn social media group has grown to more than 1,000 active members as well.

JSN if offered weekly at FVTC’s Appleton and Oshkosh campuses. For more information on the sessions, visit www.fvtc.edu/jsn.

 

From postcrescent.com: “Streetwise: Oshkosh growing out of the old Sawdust City image” — By Jeff Bollier – Oshkosh may have a ways to go before it competes with Silicon Valley, but the former center of the logging industry has quietly lumbered into the 21st century.

Companies like DealerFire, Oracular and ImproMed continue to add good-paying jobs while economic development agencies have sought ways to help bolster information technology as an industry in Oshkosh.

Meanwhile, Fox Valley Technical College has recently launched a partnership with Oshkosh North and West high schools that could help build interest — and necessary skill sets — in the IT field.

FVTC, North and West have established help desks staffed by students and monitored by FVTC mentors to help build an understanding of IT careers and the required skills. FVTC also has started to develop curriculum for the high schools that will allow interested students earn college credits while taking early courses vital to IT careers and courses of study.

These activities are the building blocks on which a successful industry can build for years to come. Let’s hope collaboration like this continues into the future and the vision comes to fruition.

• Oshkosh Corp. has been designated a Green Professional under the Wisconsin Sustainable Council’s Green Masters Program. The program recognizes companies that promote sustainability and healthy workplaces. In Oshkosh Corp.’s case, the council applauded the company’s increase in recycled materials, a reduction in items that end up in landfills and its wellness programs.

From fox11online.com: “New high-tech classrooms at FVTC” — GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Tech is going high tech in its classrooms.

KI paid $150,000 to help bring four new learning labs to the school at the start of the fall semester.

An official dedication was held Tuesday afternoon.

The rooms include multi-media screens and walls and desks that can be written on.

“We have learned through a lot of research and education that collaboration is key for student learning and I think these classrooms really give us the opportunity to provide the students with a lot of different ways to collaborate with each other,” said Cris Gordon, social science instructor at FVTC.

School leaders say general education courses are taught in the new classrooms.

From thenorthwestern.com: “Robotic welding program brings Walker to FVTC” — Learning to weld is normally a hands-on experience, but 14 Fox Valley Technical College students are taking a very hands-off approach to a new course.

Fox Valley Tech has introduced a course in robotic welding at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on Oshkosh’s south side this semester as it responds to changing demands of area manufacturers.

The new program, and the eight robots mounted with MIG welding guns, caught the attention of Gov. Scott Walker, who toured the manufacturing campus Tuesday afternoon.

“We can compete with anybody in the world, anywhere around the world, but we’re not going to compete the way we used to,” Walker said. “Advanced manufacturing means people who have multiple skills that can be applied using not only crafts they’ve learned here, but also all the technology that goes with it.”

FVTC Metal Fabrication and Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college was able to use a portion of a three-year, $3 million Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Plus grant the U.S. Department of Labor awarded FVTC earlier this year to develop the robotic welding course’s curriculum.

“We’re seeing more automation in manufacturing,” Cebery said. “Surveys with local companies suggested it was a good idea for students to be exposed to automation. This program prepares students for what we’re seeing and the demands of industry.”

Jay Manufacturing CEO Matt Jameson said the company has six robotic welding stations and a lot more manual welding stations at its west side fabrication shop. He said the company has hired several welders recently, and needs to hire as many as 20 more. He said the company views robotic welding training as a definite plus.

“The more versatile a person is, the more we can do with them,” Jameson said. “If they know manual and robotic welding, that’s just a bonus. In addition, the people we have interviewed who tested well almost all had some form of technical college training.”

Joe Serio, of Menominee Falls, and Austin Kopplin, of Oshkosh, both said they’re excited to learn how to program the robots and get them to execute precision welds. Serio said he knows welders are in high demand, but learning more advanced skills like computer programming is vital to finding a good job.

“Usually, we don’t get to deal with computers much while welding, but there’s always someone who needs to run the robot in case something happens,” Serio said. “This comes easy and it’s a pretty nice skill to learn.”

Kopplin said he’s been impressed by the amount of programming required to get the robots to work and the precision with which they execute commands.

“It’s consistent and perfect every time,” Kopplin said. “You get jittery welding for six hours at a time, but these things can run all night.”

Cebery said the college reached out to companies who said students need to be familiar with robotic welding and asked them to provide one or two robots they use. He said Ariens Co., in Brillion, and Muza Metal Products, in Oshkosh, are just two of the companies that stepped up to help out.

“Getting eight robots on the floor would have cost an astounding amount of money,” Cebery said. “Finding another way was vital. Fortunately, we were able to find a way via donations and gifted equipment that exposes students to the different types of robotic welders. They get to learn on each of them.”

From WisFarmer.com: “Fox Valley Technical College building specialized skills” — Fox Valley Technical College’s Board of Trustees recently approved the state’s only Precision Agriculture program, a new offering designed to train the next generation of agribusiness and agronomy professionals.

The concept of precision agriculture takes data collected from industry equipment and generates prescribed maps for fields through the use of GPS technology and related software.

This innovative method of farming results in better tilling, planting, and harvesting due to variable rate applications.

Each soil and topographic makeup on any given parcel of land is unique, and precision agriculture pinpoints these distinctions to optimize the growing experience for stakeholders of production agriculture.

“Precision agriculture is the 21st Century management tool for production Ag,” says Mike Cattelino, associate dean of FVTC’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies division. “This technology enables agriculture professionals to become better micro-managers of their own soil.”

Service Motor Company (SMC) in nearby Dale has been a strong proponent of the new offering, validating the need for advanced skills in farming.

“The whole landscape of agriculture is changing rapidly,” notes Jim Sommer, president of Service Motor Company.

He added, “Fox Valley Tech focuses on technology, which is needed to advance today’s agriculture industry by lowering costs and increasing productivity. Essentially, ag professionals now need to be visionaries when it comes to crop management, production, farm operations, and more to meet the intricacies of an ever-changing industry.”

One current challenge in the industry calls for more partnerships like SMC and Case IH uniting with FVTC to address a skills shortage in agriculture. The organizations continue to work in collaboration with FVTC’s agriculture programs to shape the college’s longstanding tradition of nearly 65 years as one of Wisconsin’s training leaders.

SMC and Case IH officially ventured into a new partnership in 2010 with FVTC by providing the state’s largest technical college with a plethora of new equipment over a 10-year span.

“The company is more engaged with us than ever before,” adds Cattelino. “The Sommer family and its staff helped us blueprint the precision Ag program based off of recent experiences they’ve encountered within the industry. It’s a model working relationship.”

FVTC’s Agriculture Center is currently undergoing an expansion due to the passage of the April 2012 public referendum, which advanced several facility-related projects for the college by nearly a 2-1 margin.

The center’s 7,600 square-foot expansion supports a nearly 87 percent growth in full-time equivalent students in FVTC’s agriculture-related programs since 2008.

The completion is set for September, in time for students this fall to experience the added learning labs, not only in agriculture, but in horticulture and outdoor power equipment as well.

In addition, strong graduate placement rates reaffirm the steady growth and need for newer programs that require advanced skill sets.

For example, all 37 graduates of FVTC’s Agribusiness and Science Technology program over the past three years landed careers, and all 12 graduates from last year’s class in the Agriculture Power Equipment program earned new jobs as well.

Cattelino says it’s an exciting time to be involved in agriculture. “With so much technology at one’s fingertips, the possibilities are endless in an industry that will never go away.”

From wisconsinagconnection.com: “Fox Valley Tech to offer Precision Ag Curriculum” — The board of trustees at Appleton’s Fox Valley Technical College has approved a new Precision Agriculture program which aims to train the next generation of agribusiness and agronomy professionals to be ready for the workforce. Teachers at the school’s agriculture center say it will be a one of a kind program in the state.

Precision agriculture takes data collected from industry equipment and generates prescribed maps for fields through the use of GPS technology and related software. This innovative method of farming results in better tilling, planting, and harvesting due to variable rate applications. Each soil and topographic makeup on any given parcel of land is unique, and precision agriculture pinpoints these distinctions to optimize the growing experience for stakeholders of production agriculture.

“Precision agriculture is the 21st Century management tool for production Ag,” says Mike Cattelino, associate dean of FVTC’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies division. “This technology enables agriculture professionals to become better micro-managers of their own soil.”

Service Motor Company, a nearby Case IH dealership, is helping to supply the school with the necessary equipment to teach the program.

The Agriculture Center is currently undergoing an expansion due to the passage of the April 2012 public referendum, which advanced several facility-related projects for the college. That project is expected to be finished in time for students this fall to experience the added learning labs.

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