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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From “Okuma America Corporation and Madison Area Technical College partner to train the next generation of machinists and programmers” — Okuma America Corporation, a world-leader in CNC machine tool manufacturing, and Madison Area Technical College (MATC), a member of Partners in THINC, today announced their partnership to provide superior CNC education to students. The three-year partnership will deliver high quality hands-on training in service, repair, operation, programming, application and maintenance of Okuma machines as part of MATC’s machinist certificate and degree programs.

Madison Area Technical College will offer training led by NIMS certified, Level 1 instructors on Okuma CNC machines and simulators in the college’s new Ingenuity Center. In addition to providing equipment, Okuma will assist in developing content and programs that are aligned with Okuma’s workforce goals. “We’re pleased to join forces with MATC in CNC education. This partnership will provide a workforce pool to the local industry base that has the skills required to perform CNC related jobs,” said Lisa Rummel, chief financial officer at Okuma America.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies showcasing the Ingenuity Center will be held at MATC on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.


From “Elkhorn farmer outlines opportunities for new farmers” — For a German city boy who wanted to farm, the yearning was fed by internships in Germany, Canada and Wisconsin.

The dream of farming came true for Altfrid Krusenbaum, who now has his own grass-based dairy farm near Elkhorn. He’s been in Wisconsin for 28 years. Today, one of his passions is helping other people who have that same passion to farm.

His 300-acre farm includes a herd of 140 dairy cows that calve seasonally in the spring so they can go out on the grass. He also grass-finishes 35 dairy steers for beef.

Krusenbaum, who spoke at a recent Columbia/Dodge winter grazing conference in Randolph, has been active in supporting the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers at the University of Wisconsin and the state’s Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program.

But he’s begun his own approach to fostering the next generation of dairy farmers — share milking. It’s a way for young couples to get into farming if they are willing to learn and work on another’s dairy farm.

Krusenbaum stresses that these share milkers should be couples because he feels there’s just too much work for one person alone.

More and more entrants, in the many programs to help beginning farmers in the state, are from non-farm backgrounds and need to acquire hands-on skills, he said.

Many young people don’t have the capital to begin farming, they’re bound in a traditional outlook on farming or they lack a positive outlook. He sees the state’s programs, including his own share milking program, as a way to potentially cure some of those ills.

The UW’s School for Beginning Dairy Farmers (before the “Livestock” was added) was begun by grass-based dairy farmers who saw the need for a formalized program to get new farmers started in the state. They approached the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) to get it started.

The first students were from the UW Farm and Industry Short Course as well as students from the four-year farming programs at the university.

“This is really the only thing like it offered anywhere in the nation,” he said.

The course is expanding from its Madison location via the use of distance learning where students can follow seminars live on the internet and interact with the moderator.

Krusenbaum said that the students in Madison right now range in age from 19-55 years old. They study a winter curriculum, go on farm tours, attend conferences and can take advantage of internships. Their course of study includes business planning and all are encouraged to write a formal plan for their future farm so they can set and achieve goals into the future.

Speakers and mentors include successful farmers, UW specialists, ag lenders, veterinarians and successful business leaders.

The program has been going for 19 years and 440 students have gone through it. “More than three-quarters of them are farming and 50 percent of those have their own farms.”

The school has been supported by cooperatives and association who see the need to add new farmers to the agricultural economy in Wisconsin. Grass-based livestock production methods were chosen because the need for capital is less with these kinds of systems.

Apprenticeship needed

With the UW program up and running, many in the industry felt that there was a need for an accredited career path for the people who wanted to get their own farm started. Grassworks, a state grazing organization helped create the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program to help create a pathway to farm ownership for these future farmers.

The program includes 4,000 hours of paid training over two years — 3,712 hours of on-the-job training and instruction by the master grazer as well as 288 hours of related classroom instruction in collaboration with the state’s Technical College System.

Randy Zogbaum, the agriculture instructor with Madison Area Technical College noted that it is the first registered farm apprenticeship program in the United States. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”

The program allows the beginning farmer to develop skills and network with the dairy industry in the state.

For the master grazer, the program provides a “quality, ambitious, driven individual” who becomes a skilled worker by the end of two years, says Krusenbaum. The program also opens up the potential for a farm transfer from the mentor to the beginning farmer.

There are currently 28 approved Master Grazers who can take apprentices — but he says the program always needs more. The program has generated seven graduates. Three of them have their own farms, three are in equity-earning positions and one is a farm manager.

Over 60 candidates are waiting placement.

The program is helpful, says Krusenbaum, for traditional entrants who need management skills and for non-traditional entrants who need experience.

What students in so many of these programs have in common, he said, is the “dream to farm.”

New Zealand model

Krusenbaum has trained interns on his farm for 20 years but was really dissatisfied with how many ended up on working farms. They were lacking in business skills and had no equity.

In 1996 he learned of the share milking model in New Zealand, a country where milking cows is the number-one desired job among its citizens.

“With share milking they earn equity and hone their management skills. At the end they have a profitable tax record and equity. The risk is taken away from them.”

Krusenbaum has created a share milking program on his own farm because he feels it’s a great opportunity to pass on knowledge, assets and a legacy to a new generation.

For the mentor, it’s also a way to slow down a bit while still earning income from the farm. “There’s a great satisfaction to getting another farmer started.”

Like any social contract there has to be negotiation between the two parties. Share milkers provide most of the labor and management related to livestock and pastures.

The farm business owner provides all the forage that can be produced in an average year, an existing land base and all the necessary machinery and facilities.

At his farm Krusenbaum uses a three-year contract with the first six months being probationary.

The share milker gets 18 percent of the milk (they get their own Organic Valley producer number) and 18 percent of all the steers sold. In addition the share milker gets every fifth heifer calf born alive from March through May.

Income and animals

The beginning farmers also get the ability to raise their heifers on the farm and Krusenbaum provides them with the farm house to live in.

He said in general this provides about $45,000 in net farm income for the share milking couple and about 55 head of cattle after three years.

In New Zealand, he said, these kinds of arrangements have evolved into strictly cash models but he wanted to incorporate cattle ownership into the program because he felt it would give the beginning farmer more “buy-in” and get them involved on a higher level.

In addition to the income stream, share milkers are responsible for 18 percent of most variable expenses and the utilities at the house, he said.

Krusenbaum has been using this model since 2006 and admits it has had its ups and downs. “The biggest drawback is that very few people want to do it. It’s amazing how few applicants we get. I don’t know why it’s not more attractive to more people.”

For this kind of program to work, he said it is important to have on-farm housing for the share milking couple. “I really feel it’s important for the share milker to live on the farm.”

He recommends a trial period so both parties can feel comfortable with each other and the arrangement. “Anything can be fixed unless the personalities don’t work out.”

Krusenbaum feels that beginning farmers need a firm foundation under them, like the one they could gain from share milking or the apprenticeship program. He noted that of the dairy herds being sold through the Richland Center sale barn this year, one-third are those that started up in the last three years.

The state’s programs are a way for new dairy farmers to forge a career path.

Krusenbaum urged his grazing listeners to apply to become master grazers in the apprenticeship program and to consider share milking as an option.

For share milking, the farm needs to be a certain size and the farm needs to be a mature operation. “It needs to have low debt and the farm paid for. It can’t be something that started in the last few years.”

For more on Krusenbaum’s farm:

Other programs:

Dairy grazing apprenticeship:

From “First tiny home to be occupied thanks to a village effort” — Last spring, Betty Ybarra occupied a tent in a county park and with her tentmates dug moats to discourage oncoming floodwaters.

Starting Christmas Eve, she and a tentmate will upgrade to a brand new “tiny home” they helped build with aid from a variety of helpers including local colleges. It has a roof, insulated walls, a toilet and a sink. Christmas lights hang outside it.

It’s a twist of fate more fortunate than they could imagine possible.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, right,’ ” Ybarra, who’s been homeless since April, said of her reaction when originally presented the idea. “I’m too skeptical.”

Their house is the first of what organizers hope will be a village of similar houses that provide basic shelter against the elements and a home to be proud of for the homeless, who earn the residences through sweat equity at an East Side workshop set up to build and decorate the units.

Its construction came about thanks to a massive volunteer effort that included more than 50 people and started early in the summer with fundraising and technical support from Occupy Madison Inc., a nonprofit.

Steve Burns, an MATC math instructor, trained volunteers and oversaw much of the construction and design of the first two houses, which follow a basic blueprint but can include whatever touches and innovations their creators want.

One of those innovations — a pole-mounted solar panel — comes with heavy fingerprints from MATC and UW-Madison and origins in rural Costa Rica, where villagers use the solar-powered lights to guard against snake bites while heading to outdoor latrines. It can charge the battery that provides light to the house.

UW-Madison donated the panel for this house. The idea came from Ken Walz, an instructor of chemistry, engineering and renewable energy at MATC and an adjunct professor at UW-Madison. For seven years, Walz has led students on study abroad trips to a national park in Mastatal, Costa Rica.

The village, rebuilding its economy after its cocoa industry cratered, had unmet energy needs because of its rural location. Walz had won a federal Department of Education grant to lead study abroad trips framed around renewable energy for international development.

Walz and his students helped with the village’s most pressing problem — a lack of reliable light — with solar panels of 40 to 60 watts. They’re designed for simplicity and ease of use. They matter especially because villagers have outdoor toilets and used to fall prey to vipers, nocturnal snakes that used darkness to their advantage. The nearest hospital is 30 miles away.

Calvin Cherry, a UW-Madison graduate student who’s been on Walz’s trip to Mastatal, saw an opportunity for the solar panels on Madison’s new tiny homes, which are based on models in Portland, Ore., and Olympia, Wash.

The 80-watt solar panel he developed will charge a sealed lead acid battery. It can power the 98-square-foot home’s four LED lights and cellphone charger base. Burns, the MATC math instructor, engineered a metal pole to mount the panels outside the house.

The first homes are heated with a vented propane heater mounted on the wall. They also can use a space heater if parked near a plug-in electricity source.

However, the plan needs a bit more refining. A recent attempt to mount the metal pole exposed a problem: it’s too tall to fit under bridges, said Bruce Wallbaum, project organizer for Occupy Madison.

The houses currently must be trailered around the neighborhood a couple of times a week. City ordinance allows them to be parked on the street as long as they’re moved every 48 hours.

The transient life will eventually end for the houses as it does for their occupants, Wallbaum said. He and other organizers of Occupy Madison are working with area churches to allow the houses to park up to three in each lot. Eventually the organization hopes to buy land and create a village of up to 30 of the houses.



From “Press brake training helps build a foundation for success” — Robbins Manufacturing of Fall River, Wis., has invested in an extensive training program, including machine-specific training, especially on the press brake. The company also has invested heavily in new technology, including a brake with automatic tool change. Both investments are paying off.

Press brake training helps build a foundation for success -
Figure 1  Most employees in Robbins Manufacturing’s press brake department recently underwent in-depth training that covered not only how to operate a machine, but also the reasoning behind those procedures.

During a given day, the 17 press brake technicians in Robbins Manufacturing’s bending department form an impressive range of materials, on a range of machines—from 20-gauge to 1.25-inch-thick mild steel, bent on equipment from a 55-ton electric brake to a 320-ton hydraulic system (see Figures 1 and 2).

By the end of the year, the company expects to install a new press brake with automatic tool change capability. The controller downloads programs, and the system’s mechanization automatically sets up the punches and dies for a job. And thanks to sensors that detect the bend angle in real time, the first part should be a good part. An operator should be able to perform a job consisting of, say, five pieces, then another job of a dozen workpieces, and so on, with mere seconds of changeover time in between. Managers expect the new technology to really help their efforts to reduce batch sizes, to ensure workpieces reach the weld cells at the right time. No one wants a welder waiting around for a missing component.

Here’s the rub: The Fall River, Wis., contract fabricator plans to put one of its most talented, experienced operators on the new press brake. At the same time, the shop has invested in cross-training. The company has worked with Madison Area Technical College and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International® (FMA) to provide classroom training on various topics. This includes a comprehensive certificate program on the intricacies of press brake operation.

Some may purchase a new machine tool to deal with the lack of skilled labor available. It’s not an ideal situation; managers are just adapting to a business reality. The people at Robbins, though, are tackling the skilled-labor crisis a little differently.

A Skilled, Adaptable Technician

The art of improvement in manufacturing often involves identifying a constraint, discovering why it’s a constraint, then devising ways to eliminate it. Robbins enjoyed a busy time earlier this year, but as capacity levels increased, inefficiencies became glaringly apparent, especially in bending. The press brake department needed to increase its throughput.

The problem, sources said, was that certain operators learned on specific machines and became specialists on that equipment. The company has different brands of press brakes, and each has its own control-interface idiosyncrasies—nothing dramatic, but just enough to throw off throughput goals on a busy day (seeFigure 3).

“We were struggling with the everyday logistics of running the shop,” said Eric Parks, plant manager. “When people were sick or on vacation during a busy time, we ran into constraints that seemed to be avoidable if we had training.”

Up until this point, Robbins’ training regimen had been mostly hands-on. A new employee would shadow an experienced operator and be trained to run a range of products on one machine. But that hands-on training didn’t necessarily cover why a certain forming program worked the way it did. Knowing the reasoning behind forming would give an operator a good foundation for learning how to operate every brake on the floor.

Robbins employs press brake operators in their 20s, 60s, and every age and experience level in between. The company tends to hire brake operators based in part on their blueprint reading capability. Operators may have experience in other trades, be it construction or carpentry, but if they can read a blueprint, managers figure these employees have a good foundation for learning the sheet metal bending craft.

“We generally taught our operators how to bend a family of products,” said Travis DeBussey, fabrication manager. “They understand how to make a group of parts at a specific machine. And in the past, unfortunately, that’s where we’ve stopped. With experience, they evolve to the next step and start to visualize a new setup, so they can bend a part that they’ve never seen before.” But he added that, until now, the company hadn’t offered formal classroom training.

A Common Language

Technical aptitude—knowing what has to be done—hasn’t been a problem. Instead, it was about the why, and about communicating that reasoning in a common language, be it bend radius, bend angle, bend allowance, bend deduction, tangent point, outside setback, or any other term in sheet metal bending. No matter the operator, press brake make and model, or company, everyone should speak the same bending language.

Many aspects of brake setup have become automated. Software can calculate the bend allowance and deduction and, ultimately, determine the correct die opening and punch for specific bends. But why is that die opening the way it is for a particular job? Why is the minimum flange length this measurement for this workpiece? Why is the radius pitch (the distance between hits made when bump-bending a large radius) specified this way? Why exactly does a bend become “sharp” at 63 percent of the material thickness, and why can’t you put a sharper radius in the bend without digging a ditch into the bend line?

“We’ve always had press brake operators, turret press operators, and laser operators,” said Parks. “We’re starting to migrate toward having fabricators.”

The ultimate goal is to have a flexible workforce capable of operating any machine in the fabrication area. So managers reached out to Madison Area Technical College. MATC’s outreach program, through grants, partially funded Robbins’ training initiative, which included a press brake operator certificate program from FMA. As part of this program, Steve Benson, president of Salem, Ore.-based ASMA LLC (and frequent contributor to this magazine), conducted a training program over two weekends in August. Several days focused on laser and punch press operation, but most instruction focused on the press brake.

The 20-person class had many of the company’s brake operators, but also other machine operators, including several turret operators who had never operated a press brake before. Most attendees passed the certificate course’s press brake exam with flying colors.

This isn’t to say the exam, or the training course, is a cakewalk. As Parks explained, even the shop’s most experienced operators learned something new. “Some of the more experienced people were reluctant because they’ve been [operating a brake] for a long time, and they understand how to do it. But they picked up on quite a few things, including some of the basic foundations, including some of the math that showed why they do what they do.”

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From “New direction: Madison College focusing on farm business management” — REEDSBURG — Madison College officials are revamping a nearly dormant agriculture program to focus on farm-business-management skills for beginning and established farmers.

John Alt, north region administrator for Madison College, formerly known as Madison Area Technical College, said college officials are making the transition from a combination farm-business and production-management program to focus strictly on farm-business management.

Randy Zogbaum, most recently the agriculture education director for the Wisconsin Technical College System, has been hired as the program’s instructor and coordinator.

Madison College had offered a diploma program with courses in soils, crop and livestock management, livestock nutrition, and farm records and business analysis. Alt said they heard loud and clear from farmers and advisers that what farmers really need is a program designed to help them with their business-management skills.

Zogbaum had been helping the college shape the new direction while working in his WTCS role, so when he expressed an interest in the Madison College position, Alt said Zogbaum was a perfect fit.

“(Zogbaum) has tremendous knowledge of what goes on statewide and nationally,” Alt said. “In all fairness, we recruited him. We’d be crazy not to look at a person who was this close to the whole process of developing the program. I’m looking at Randy to grow this program.”

The program has been slow to gain traction out of the gate — only three students signed up for a limited number of classes that started in November — but officials hope to build interest in sign-ups for another round of classes in January and have full classes in the fall of 2014.

The 2014 classes will start in mid-January and run for about six weeks each. A second group will start in late February and run until early April. All classes will meet for two hours, once per week.

A similar schedule will take shape again in the fall of 2014.

Classes will be held at the Green Technology Training and Enterprise Center in Plain. Alt said he is hopeful that as interest in the program grows, similar classes will be held at other locations within the 12-county Madison College district.

Madison College officials solicited the advice of farmers and financial institution representatives in shaping their new curriculum.

“We all know that farms don’t fail because farmers aren’t working hard, they fail because they’re not good at managing a business,” Zogbaum said. “From the education side it’s not a favorite topic all the time. But our goal is to help them be the best business people they can be.”

The courses offered by Madison College will lead students down the path of developing a business plan for their farm business. Students will then learn methods for using the plan to evaluate their farm’s financial viability and assist in decision making.

Alt said students can take each course sequentially or individual courses depending on their experience and knowledge of operating a farm business.

“Farming is a complicated business,” Zogbaum said. “If you don’t know your cost of production all the way through you really can’t tell if you’re making money. That’s the goal of the courses we set up — to work through it in a way that makes sense for the farmer.”

Alt said farmers have told them they don’t need a diploma or a certificate but instead need just-in-time training to help them manage their farms. Farmers or people interested in starting a farming operation can take the courses they need to help their individual situations.

“The nice thing is it’s easily customizable,” Alt said. “The courses we’re developing are applicable to all sorts of things. This is a new direction for the college.”

Zogbaum will also be developing a fee-for-service program that will allow farmers to receive one-on-one instruction.

Zogbaum said within the structure of the old farm-business and production-management program, if a student needed just one course and left the program, that hurt the statistics that kept the program viable.

“In the new program, if you choose to come in and get a business plan in the business planning course and we never see you again, that would be unfortunate, because we’d like to have you back, but you still get a good value out of that class,” Zogbaum said. “Either way, it doesn’t hurt the program and it helps the student.”

Zogbaum was born and raised in Madison but grew up working on a dairy farm in Richland County and a beef and pork farm in Rock County. His father’s family is from the Lone Rock area, so he said his “heart and soul are right here in this area.”

“I was real excited to have the opportunity to get back in the classroom,” he said. “I had some great colleagues in the system office and I’ll miss each and every one of them. But this opportunity is just too good to pass up.”

Zogbaum worked at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as a soil and water quality specialist and as a Columbia County Extension agriculture agent before taking the WTCS agriculture director position in 2008.

Each six-week course will cost about $240, and in many cases, scholarship or grant funds are available to cover some of the costs, Alt said.

Zogbaum said he could envision a farmer taking a course every year to help build a strong financial base.

“It would be a great opportunity to sit down with 15 or 20 other farmers and an instructor and look at your balance sheet year after year,” he said. “Why not use the class as a time to close out your books for the year?”

The last full-time employee in Madison College’s old agriculture program retired this year, so Alt said it was important to maintain the position and head the program in a viable direction.

“It’s going to appeal to a lot of people,” he said of the revamped program. “We have lease space at the Green Technology Center in Plain, so that’s where we’re starting, but I can see it spreading very quickly to other parts of the district. I think it has huge potential.”


From “MATC’s Walleser nabs enrollment award” — Diane Walleser, vice president of enrollment at Madison Area Technical College, was honored last week by a national association for her work promoting strategic enrollment management.

At the ceremony in Chicago, Walleser was touted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers for leadership that has led to significant growth in student applications and enrollment since she started in 2005. It also noted an 85 percent increase in students in the college’s liberal arts transfer program during her tenure.

“A new academic pathway model was developed to improve retention and completion rates and shorten time-to-completion,” the association noted. “Academic and peer advisors have been hired and orientation services redesigned to intentionally support student retention and success.”



From “Jefferson High health occupations class gives dual credit with MATC” — JEFFERSON — Longtime Jefferson High School teacher Carolyn Behrens started the Jefferson High School health occupations class several years ago as a pipeline to the Certified Nursing Assistant program.

The program has expanded since teacher Kimberly Hart-Shatswell took it over eight years ago, and now Hart-Shatswell has teamed up with Madison Area Technical College to offer the course for dual credit for both the high school and MATC.

In addition, Hart-Shatswell is putting together a new course on medical terminology that will be offered next semester as an advanced standing class, and she’s working on a dual-credit ar rangement for that class as well.

The teacher said that when she found out about the opportunity to enter into a dual-credit arrangement with MATC, known as Madison College, she signed up for summer training and submitted her course profile, to make sure it meets MATC’s requirements.

Jefferson High School junior Jessica Milbrath said that the dual credit course will help set her on her way in her chosen career.

Born two months premature, she always has been interested in healthcare and decided at a fairly young age that she wanted to help others as others had helped give her a healthy start in life.

“I want to be an OB nurse,” the student said. “I already volunteer at the hospital, which I’ve done for the past three years now.”

She said her experience working at the hospital has only solidified her desire to work in healthcare, particularly in obstetrics.

“I have a lot of fun up there and I have met some great people through the hospital,” Milbrath said.

The junior said it’s good to be able to get some of the prerequisites for her future studies out of the way while still in high school, “and it’s still free through the local school district.”

Next year, she said, she plans to take medical terminology and enter Certified Nursing Assistant training. From there, she hopes to go on to nursing school.

Senior Amanda Watts said she hopes to become a nurse as well, with the idea of eventually entering pediatrics.

She said the dual-credit course is boosting her resume while she’s still in high school and she knows if she continues with MATC or the University of Wisconsin System, she will already have credits in her chosen field.

Right now, she’s looking at attending Rasmussen College in Wausau, so she’s not sure how credits obtained in high school would transfer to that program, but it should at least give her a background in the basics.

“I always kind of wanted to be a doctor, since about second grade,” she said.

She noted that the class has given students valuable hands-on experience, as well as a lot of information about the field. For some, she said, that’s led them to decide to go in a different direction, but the class has strengthened her feeling that she wants to enter medicine.

Watts, too, hopes to take the medical terminology class next semester and to enter Certified Nursing Assistant training as a first step toward working in the medical field.

Hart-Shatswell said that she proposed the new medical terminology class last year. Now that Jefferson High School has a Latin program, she thought her new class, in combination with the anatomy and physiology class the school already offers, would be a good fit for students planning to enter the medical field.

“The school board and administration have been really supportive of these efforts,” Hart-Shatswell said.

The teacher is in her eighth year at Jefferson High School. She actually worked as a pharmacy technician for 15 years before entering education. She said healthcare is an important field, and people with medical training at any level are always in demand.

“There are a wide variety of jobs available in the field, and not all of them involve direct patient care,” she said, listing medical illustrators, biomedical engineers, hospital architects and pharmacists as other options.

“What we’re doing here at Jefferson High School is giving students a good background to enter one of these fields, and even if they choose to go in another direction, they’re getting good information,” she said.

“Health is always going to be part of people’s lives.”

From  “Column: MATC president makes good first impression” — Jack E. Daniels, the new president of Madison Area Technical College, is straightforward about his challenges and priorities.

The college’s enrollment is slipping after a building boom. Labor contracts are expiring in a post-Act 10 world. Technology is changing the traditional classroom.

Yet Daniels likes what he sees on his many campuses, wants to develop a shared vision and promises to always put students first.

His candor included an honest answer to a tough question Tuesday from the State Journal editorial board. Asked when he last spoke to his predecessor, Bettsey Barhorst, Daniels replied without hesitation that it’s been about a month and a half.

That’s more evidence the MATC District Board’s pay extension for Barhorst ($88,000 for 19 weeks of on-call advice, mostly by phone) was a parting gift for her long tenure. It wasn’t a seriously needed consulting gig.

Daniels, a Chicago native who ran a community college in Los Angeles, makes a good first impression. He seems collaborative yet driven, emphasizing the employment needs of the region.

“Technical college is about jobs — getting people prepared for jobs,” he stressed.

That ranges from culinary classes to manufacturing skills to a specialized program on stem cells. MATC also is the top source of transfer students to UW-Madison.

Daniels said the focus on MATC’s building expansion will shift more to what’s happening in those facilities.

Daniels has met with hundreds of groups since starting his job Aug. 19. He’s launching a strategic planning effort and pledged to seek wide input.

MATC’s enrollment has fallen as the economy has improved. Daniels said that places more importance on recruitment. Pitching MATC’s affordability to parents could help attract more high school students, he suggested. Daniels had hundreds of high school students on his college campus in Los Angeles. Smoothing that transition is key.

Daniels said he supports online and hybrid classes but wants them carefully assessed. The traditional role of instructors isn’t going away, he added.

California makes it easier to track the jobs and pay of graduates by Social Security number, something Wisconsin doesn’t allow, he said. Yet measuring success is vital, he suggested.

Daniels isn’t hung up on his institution’s name. Whether you call it MATC or Madison College, what’s important is that it fulfills its mission, he said.

We like the attitude and honesty.

From “Smile! Local officers testing body camera” — Officers at Madison Area Technical College are checking out a new piece of equipment that could help in gathering evidence, right from an officer’s shoulder.

The new gadget is a video camera that can be clipped onto a shoulder or other parts of an officer’s uniform.

“The portable cameras can be switched on when an officer faces a possible confrontation,” the college said in a news release.

The evidence caught by camera could help in crime detection, prevention and prosecution, the release said.

From “Learning the ropes of Reedsburg” — By Julie Belschner – From Los Angeles to Reedsburg, it’s a bit of culture shock for Dr. Jack E. Daniels III. But the Chicago native, who is now the president of Madison Area Technical College, knows this area well. As a child, he came to Wisconsin Dells on camping trips.

This week he was in Reedsburg to meet with staff, faculty, students and the public at MATC’s Reedsburg campus.

“This is my second time here,” he said. “I was here for a tour during the interview process. Today I got really good input. What you’re coming into is a facility that serves this community well. The students seem to be engaged. We have great instructors. Those are all good things.

“There are no bad things. The staff here all has one focus – on the students. And that’s true throughout the district.”

He comes to the job after serving since 2006 as president of Los Angeles Southwest College, an 8,000-student school that’s part of the sprawling Los Angeles Community College district. It was formed in 1967 in the wake of the Watts race riots to improve educational opportunities for the area’s then-majority black population.

He has been credited with helping the college be more accessible to the area’s now-majority Latino population, boosting their enrollment from 20 percent of the student body when he started to 36 percent today.

“His unwavering commitment to student success and a positive collaborative work environment for all involved in the college, plus his commitment to partnering with the community to meet the needs of industry and business, put him in an excellent position to lead us,” said Janice Bultema at the time of his selection. The District Board member was on the three-person search committee for a new president.

She said that beyond his record as an administrator, it was feedback received from various campus groups that helped cinch the decision to hire Daniels.

“What we heard loud and clear from all the sessions is people really like his interpersonal style and his engaging interaction with others,” she said.

Serving others is Daniels’ aim, he said Wednesday.

“We talked about classes, about what types of programs they’d like to see, about books, the cost of books,” he said of the day’s meetings with students. “They’d like the ability to have programs here that may be offered in a different area. Many don’t like to travel. They like the class size here; there is more engagement with the instructors.”

One example, he said, is the culinary program that is offered in Madison. If Reedsburg students want to be in it, they currently need to travel to Madison. That, he said, might be difficult, especially in winter.

“It’s too soon to tell what I might change,” he said. “I’m taking the first few weeks to observe and listen. I’ll have some findings, and then analyze them, and present them back to the district. I anticipate the first of November I’ll be able to do that.”

He has eight campuses to observe and listen at, so getting around to all eight is a task, he added.

Surprisingly, not that many things are different than in LA.

“There are some obvious things,” he said. “The size is smaller, and in California each college campus is separately accredited, not like here. But there are similar programs. We have a college focus on trade and technology.”

When asked how ACT-10 will affect his plans at MATC, Daniels said he needs to set up a plan for open dialogue between staff and faculty.

“We actually have three collective bargaining units here,” he said. “The staff, part-time faculty and full-time faculty. The current contract ends March 2014, so I’ve got no time. I want to have something put together by the first of the year. There are so many unknowns. While a few colleges have handbooks, there is no framework, nothing to follow.

“But I strongly believe in shared decision making.”

Daniels took over at the school Aug. 19. He earned his doctorate at Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology in Berkeley, Calif., and his Bachelor’s degree at Huntington University in Indiana.

From “Lothe earns bachelor degree from Madison Area Technical College/Franklin University recently” — Three Madison Area Technical College students were awarded a bachelor’s degree at a commencement ceremony May 12. However, the degree awarded was not from Madison Area Technical College, but rather from Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio.

The graduates included Mandy Lothe, DeForest – Allied Healthcare Management.

Lothe completed her degree by participating in a unique educational alliance between Madison Area Technical College and Franklin University. That program allows students in the U.S. to combine on campus coursework at their local community college with online classes through Franklin to complete their degree.

Madison Area Technical College is one of more than nearly 270 community colleges across the U.S. that has formed an educational alliance with Franklin University. The Community College Alliance was established to provide students the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree online while remaining in their community.


From “Daniels takes over as president at Madison College” — The new president at Madison Area Technical College is settling in.

President Jack Daniels started his new job Monday.

During an interview with 27 News, Daniels talked about presiding over a growing college, that will open four new buildings on its main campus this school year.

“You can build these great buildings but what happens inside those walls? And so, my focus is really on how have we engaged our students? How we help them meet their goals?”

Daniels comes to Madison College from Los Angeles Southwest College. But he’s not a stranger to the Midwest, also spending time as president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois.

From “MATC-Reedsburg offering new programs” — Madison Area Technical College-Reedsburg is offering the following new programs: Finance, Human Resource Management, Small Business Entrepreneurship, and Human Services Associate. Either all or the majority of the courses can be taken at the Reedsburg campus.

The Finance program provides the educational background and training required for entry positions in banks, savings and loan associations, finance companies, credit unions, real estate, insurance, financial planning, government, or mercantile and manufacturing enterprises. Job experience and continuing education provide qualifications for advancement. Finance relates to the management of, not necessarily the accounting for, monetary affairs.

The Human Resource Management program provides a well-rounded study in the Human Resources profession within the context of the fundamentals of business organization, finance, management and related studies. This program provides the student with training necessary for employment and advancement on the job in Human Resource Management and allied occupations. Graduates are prepared to complete bachelor degrees at four-year institutions.

The Human Services Associate program trains people to provide information, support, care and advocacy in a human service agency. Students acquire skills needed to work with individuals, groups and communities.

The Small Business Entrepreneurship program provides prospective small-business owners/entrepreneurs with the principles involved in planning and operating a small business. Attention is given to small business appraisal and opportunities; developing a written business/marketing plan; and advertising, public relations, direct mail and sales promotion plans. Marketing concepts include planning, forecasting, segmentation, product strategy, product mix, pricing and distribution. The program also provides an introduction to the basic principles, concepts and theories of business and non-business selling, and their application to an actual sales presentation. Special attention is given to personal development and self-image concepts.

Stop in at the Reedsburg campus at 300 Alexander Ave. for a listing of fall classes or call at 524-7800.


From “Madison College celebrates opening of new building” — MADISON – Madison College celebrated the opening of its new Gateway Building on the Truax Campus Thursday.

MATC dedicated the building’s welcome center to outgoing president Dr. Bettsey Barhorst.

The building houses several lounges, a student achievement center, a gallery and a library, and as the first building on the campus, it will be used to welcome people to Madison College.

“We are so grateful to the taxpayers and voters who voted for the referendum in 2010 when things were not really good. And then the people who had it built in two years,” said Barhorst.

Barhorst will be leaving the college next month and moving to Illinois to be closer to family but she said she’s loved living and working in Madison.

Proceeds from the ticketed event that was hosted by the Madison College Foundation will support student scholarships and educational programs.


From “MATC board selects Jack Daniels as new school president” — Growing up, Jack E. Daniels III joined his family on camping trips in Wisconsin Dells, roadtripping from their home on the South Side of Chicago for a week or more away amid the carnival rides and theme park attractions.

Now, the longtime community college administrator will return to the area as president of Madison Area Technical College, having impressed the college’s District Board with his background as a collaborative, inclusive leader.

“His unwavering commitment to student success and a positive collaborative work environment for all involved in the college, plus his commitment to partnering with the community to meet the needs of industry and business put him in an excellent position to lead us,” said Janice Bultema, a District Board member who was on the three-person search committee.

The college’s board approved the hire in a closed session vote last Thursday night and spent Friday hammering out terms of Daniels’ contract. The school announced the hire Monday.

He agreed to a three-year contract with a starting salary of $238,000, more than his current pay but slightly less than the $239,837 base salary of outgoing President Bettsey Barhorst.

Daniels is scheduled to start on Aug. 19. Barhorst, MATC president since 2004, agreed to stay on until Daniels takes over.

He comes to the job after serving since 2006 as president of Los Angeles Southwest College, an 8,000-student school that’s part of the sprawling Los Angeles Community College district. It was formed in 1967 in the wake of the Watts race riots to improve educational opportunities for the area’s then-majority African-American population.

He has been credited with helping the college be more accessible to the area’s now-majority Latino population, boosting their enrollment from 20 percent of the student body when he started to 36 percent today.

Daniels said he made a concerted effort to lure Latinos, focusing on hiring more of the group from the community and hosting cultural events and forums that made Latinos feel welcome.

“He did it without alienating people,” said Rocky Young, former chancellor of the L.A. community college district who hired Daniels to lead Southwest, first as interim president in 2006 then to the permanent job in 2008.

“It was a question of embracing one group without alienating other people,” he said.

Daniels was one of three finalists for the MATC presidency, along with Stephen Curtis, president of Community College of Philadelphia, and Ann Valentine, chancellor of Wabash Valley Region Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Each visited campus last week for public forums and private interviews.

Bultema said that beyond his record as an administrator, it was feedback received from various campus groups that helped cinch the decision to hire Daniels.

“What we heard loud and clear from all the sessions is people really like his interpersonal style and his engaging interaction with others,” she said.

At a gathering last week, Daniels told staff and students at MATC that his

No. 1 goal is the students, and it should remain the No. 1 goal of staff after union contracts expire in 2014.

Bultema said the board was sufficiently satisfied with Daniels’ explanation when asked about his controversial 2005 resignation as president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Ill.

He left the job with two years left on his contract and no job lined up after the board learned he was in a romantic relationship with the school’s human resources coordinator.

The relationship between Daniels, then 54, and Kimila Yuncker, then 34, began in 2004 when both were married to someone else, according to the State Journal-Register newspaper in Springfield.

Both eventually got divorced and later married. They’re still married today and will soon celebrate their ninth anniversary, Daniels said.

Daniels always denied that the relationship caused him to be forced out, and members of the Lincoln Land board have declined comment.

The board issued a statement at the time that Daniels sought “a new path in his career.”

In an interview Monday, Daniels said he voluntarily resigned to continue his relationship.

“I wanted to make sure it was open and to do that I resigned,” he said.

Bultema said that the MATC District Board discussed the issue with Daniels and that she had heard it came up in at least one other meeting last week.

Board members and others came away satisfied with his candor and explanation, she said.

Young, who hired Daniels to the job in Los Angeles a year after his resignation in Springfield, said his explanation at the time also was sufficient, and he’s glad he hired Daniels.

“I think you got a good person,” he said. “I really am a supporter. I think he took a pretty difficult situation (at Southwest) and really did a good job of transforming the college.”


From “In child care evolution, ramifications for everyone” — By Doug Erickson – After Wisconsin started rating child care centers a couple of years ago, Stacy Reinacher knew how the phone calls from prospective customers were going to go.

Her small, in-home center in Madison earned just two stars out of five — the most common rating and nothing to be ashamed of, yet disappointing to some parents.

“You’d say two stars, and they’d be like, ‘Really, that’s it?’ And then you wouldn’t hear from them again,” said Reinacher, 37, who operates Stacy’s Quality Daycare.

What tripped up Reinacher was the same thing keeping so many providers from getting higher ratings: a lack of college credits. The rating system, called YoungStar, puts a premium on educational attainment. Centers are stuck at a two-star rating unless at least some of their workers get college-credit-based training.

That’s sent hundreds of child care workers, including Reinacher, back to college — or to college for the first time.

It’s not an easy proposition. Caring for children is exhausting work, and turnover is high in the field. Then there’s the financial aspect.

“These folks aren’t making much money — the average is about $11 an hour,” said Dave Edie, who led the state’s child care office for years. “The question becomes, ‘Why should I get a degree and continue to make $11 an hour?’”

The state is trying to address these barriers, particularly through a popular scholarship program.

Some child care workers welcome this move toward college training, saying it will professionalize the field and finally put to rest the “baby sitter” label. Others, especially veteran providers with decades of experience, say the emphasis on college training is misplaced, even insulting.

Regardless, YoungStar has triggered a fundamental shift in child care in the state.

“I’ve often told my employees that there will come a day when you won’t be able to work in this field without having at least some college training,” said Sharlot Bogart, owner of Teddy’s Place in Sun Prairie and a child care provider for more than 40 years. “That day is coming very soon.”

Four key areas

The YoungStar system rates centers from one to five stars, although two stars is really the practical base. (One-star centers don’t meet basic health and safety standards and usually are in the process of being shut down.)

A center gets rated in four key areas: staff educational qualifications; learning environment; the professionalism of business practices; and the approach to child health and wellness.

Of the 4,571 child care centers that have been rated through YoungStar, the biggest chunk by far, 2,910 or 64 percent, earned two stars. That means they meet all state health and safety standards.

State officials always said most centers would get two stars, at least initially. That’s because the state’s previous approach to licensing focused on health and safety. YoungStar pushes a center to think much more about its early learning curriculum — and whether it has the qualified staff to teach it.

“The better trained the staff members are, the more knowledgeable they are about the stages of child development, and we feel that’s crucial,” Edie said. “You can even have a fairly questionable setting, but if the teachers know how to work with kids, they can do great things.”

The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, where Edie now works, recently crunched the numbers and found the greatest barrier to a center moving up to three stars is a lack of staff education.

Pride, self-improvement

Reinacher does not have a college degree. But on a recent afternoon at her in-home center, she pulled a hefty binder from a shelf and paged through the records from all of the continuing education classes she’s taken in the past decade — 192 hours’ worth.

Those non-credit classes improved her skills and helped her maintain her state license, but they didn’t help her move up the rating’s ladder. She couldn’t become a three-star center unless she earned at least 12 college credits — typically four college courses. Her competitiveness kicked in.

“I wanted to better myself,” she said. “And I didn’t want to be a two-star center like everyone else.”

So 18 months ago, she began taking online classes through UW-Platteville, often sitting down to hours of homework after an exhausting day of caring for six children.

She earned a three-star rating a couple of months ago and is continuing to take classes in hopes of one day acquiring enough credits for a two-year associates degree, giving her a shot at an even higher rating. At her current pace, that would take another three years.

Tuition assist

The classes are sometimes a physical drain but have not been a financial one for Reinacher. To encourage education, the state offers scholarships to child care workers through a $4.7 million annual program that goes by the acronym TEACH.

The scholarships predate YoungStar, but the demand for them has increased dramatically in the last two years. It would be hard to find a government program more beloved right now.

“TEACH is doing amazing things,” said Krystle Lisk, owner of Just 4 Kidz in Cuba City, a two-star center.

She’s taking the second of six college courses she needs for her center to move up to a three-star rating. Her scholarship pays 55 percent of the tuition, plus a stipend for gas and books. Her cost per course is about $400.

The scholarships are even more helpful to employees of child care centers because the employer also ponies up some money. And once the courses are completed, the employer agrees to provide either a one-time bonus (usually around $200) or a raise of 1 to 2 percent.

For Christina Smith, 32, an employee of Play Haven Child Care in Sun Prairie, the scholarship means she pays only 20 percent of the costs, or about $150 per course at Madison Area Technical College. In return, she commits to staying with her employer for at least a year after her scholarship contract is completed.

Smith works full time, plus races to classes over lunch and at night.

“Believe it or not, I’m actually really enjoying it — I’m on the Dean’s List, I’m earning high honors — and I’m able to apply what I’m learning directly in the classroom,” she said.

She’s one of 1,089 child care workers across the state on a TEACH scholarship right now. Funding for the program is stable, and so far the program has been able to enroll all applicants who meet eligibility guidelines, said Autumn Gehri of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, which runs the program for the state.

Big motivator

There’s another big motivator in this push toward college credits. Centers that care for low-income children get more money through a state-subsidy program if they have more stars. That’s part of the state’s goal of getting more low-income children into higher-quality child care.

When YoungStar kicked in, centers rated two stars actually lost 5 percent of their state reimbursement. This was especially galling to these centers, because the overall reimbursement rate for everyone has been frozen since 2006.

“We’d done nothing wrong, yet our wages essentially were being cut,” said Jaime Steindorf, owner of centers in Columbus and Rio, both called Braids N’ Britches.

Her Columbus center initially earned two stars. Steindorf said she sat down her employees and “begged” them to consider college training. To get three stars, at least two of her four lead classroom teachers needed to each pass two college-level courses, and she needed to complete courses as well.

Five of her eight employees signed on, and the center now is a three-star. Steindorf has mixed feelings about YoungStar.

“Honestly, I have to say that the two most highly educated people I ever hired turned out to be my two least-desirable teachers,” she said. “I think education is important, but experience should count for something as well.”

Dynamic profession

This has become a common complaint among veterans in the field, said Karen Natoli, a coordinator of the early childhood education program at Madison Area Technical College. Natoli supports YoungStar but sympathizes with experienced providers who now need credit-based training.

“It’s almost insulting to them because, frankly, many of these providers are wonderful and have been doing high-quality child care for years,” Natoli said.

The state has responded by working with colleges to offer classes that grant credit for prior learning, through mechanisms such as opt-out tests, direct classroom observation and portfolios that document skills.

MATC tries to honor what these providers have done by drafting them as mentors for younger students. Yet it also stresses to these experienced providers the value of credit-based education, Natoli said.

“The brain research in just the last 10 years is so different from what I studied in college,” she said. “I feel like I’m always learning something new, and that’s the approach we’re trying to bring to this, to help make every teacher more exceptional.”


From “Supervisors get insight into leadership training for department heads” — Fourteen Columbia County supervisors Tuesday got what Mike Baldwin called a “crash course” in the management and leadership training that county department heads have undergone since the beginning of this year.

Baldwin, business and industry services account manager for Madison Area Technical College, said role-playing, case studies and conversations among the department heads have been just some of the tools used to help department heads discern the distinctions between leadership and management.

Management, in a nutshell, entails putting out fires, Baldwin said, whereas leadership entails considering ways to keep fires from igniting in the future.

County Board Chairman Andy Ross had invited all supervisors, but particularly those who lead the County Board’s 13 governing committees, to get a glimpse of the training that department heads are receiving through MATC.

There was $20,000 set aside in the county’s 2013 budget, according to Ross, to offer management-leadership training for department heads, including those who hold elected posts.

For next year’s budget, Ross said he will propose setting aside an additional $20,000 to extend the training to employees in supervisory positions who report directly to a county department head.

And, County Board members — especially those who might be elected to their first term in April 2014 — likely will undergo some form of leadership training, Ross said. For the last two County Board election cycles, newly elected supervisors had an orientation session that lasted a few hours; Ross said he’s looking for something a little more in-depth than that.

Baldwin said one of the things he heard frequently from county department heads during their training sessions was that County Board members, too, should have leadership training.

Supervisor Susan Martin, chairwoman of the County Board’s human resources committee, said she would like to find a way to quantify the extent to which department heads use the abilities gained in the training, and incorporate them into the annual evaluation that each department head undergoes with his or her governing committee.

Supervisor Fred Teitgen, chairman of the planning and zoning committee, said there are times when department heads need the skills of a manager to accomplish day-to-day tasks, and times when they need the skills of a leader to create a long-term vision for their departments.

“You need to know when to utilize those two roles,” Teitgen said.

Baldwin said all department heads were interviewed individually, and underwent an online evaluation of their leadership skills, before the department heads began monthly group training.

Ross said he does not have the data from either the interviews or the online evaluations, because he does not want department heads to fear that any of them are being targeted.

Trust, Baldwin said, has emerged as a value that department heads hold as vital. They’re not saying that there is a lack of trust between the department heads and elected officials who oversee their work, he said — only that maintaining trust is important.


From “Learning by Doing” — Each year, students in Madison Area Technical College’s Construction and Remodeling program complete a building that’s sold to the public. This spring, they took on a new style, creating a structure bigger and better than ever before. I caught up with John Stephany, program instructor, to find out more about the project.

How many projects has the program done since its founding? The program has been around for over 30 years, working on a variety of different projects. We have been building the small modular homes here for seven years.

What is the role of students in the construction?
We had about 22 students this year, and they all worked on the house. They did almost everything: framed it up, installed the roofing, siding, flooring, drywall, cabinetry, windows and doors, trim, etc.

What is different about this year’s building?
We’ve changed the design to be more contemporary. This helped in many ways. Primarily, it simplified the design and construction, making the details the students needed to accomplish simpler, and at a more basic level. Our previous design was more traditional looking with a steep roof and a loft, but because of all the angles involved, it made for many trickier details that were not really beginning level.

How much say do the owners have in the construction?
Quite a bit. We prefer the clients be involved at the planning stages, and get quite a bit of input in the layout and design. We have some restrictions that primarily revolve around being able to transport it when we’re done—so size and shape—and we also try to keep the details simple, so no complicated crown details or things like that. Otherwise, we’re only limited by design imagination. We have worked with a couple of architects who are on board with what we are doing, and are able to produce drawings for us to work from.

How does the program work to incorporate “green” options? What about this house is efficient?

Last year’s house had a solar Photovoltaic system that the electrical apprentices here installed, and we are close to getting a Net Zero Home, which means, with the right balance of insulation, energy efficiency and solar PV, your house can produce as much energy as it uses.

We are really trying to look down the road at what our students will need to know and then we tailor our building details to reflect the coming trends. There are many college construction programs that are out building cookie cutter vinyl clad boxes without any innovation, and we see that as a huge opportunity lost on many levels.

We are trying to push the envelope on affordable, sustainable building. For instance, we use advanced framing details which create simplified load paths and create more insulation space. We build walls that have an insulation level of R30+ and we use Structural Insulating Panels (SIPs) for the roof, which are a core of solid foam insulation with plywood skins, which themselves have an insulation level of R40+. We use reclaimed wood flooring and the trim on this latest one all came from the ReStore.

I know the outside of the home has some special siding. Could you explain it more?
We install something called Smart Siding, which is a composite wood siding over a rain screen. Smart Side looks like wood siding at half of the cost and maintenance. For the rain screen, we use spacers behind the siding that create an airspace. This doubles the life of your siding and makes the paint job last twice as long as well, since the siding can dry out from all sides. It’s a direction the industry is moving toward. In old houses, the wall cavities were fairly leaky air wise, and siding could dry to the inside as well as out. With homes being built much tighter now—which is a very good thing—it was found that siding finishes weren’t lasting as long because it could no longer dry from the backside.

Tell me more about how the home is suited for “aging in place.” What does that mean for the owner?
Wider hallways, single level and wider doors into rooms allow for wheelchair and walker use. Keeping most everything on one level is also huge. If we were installing this home to be consistent with that idea, the exterior walkways would gently slope right to the door threshold—no stairs.

What design choices were made to help maximize space in the smaller layout?
The clients are going to use Ikea cabinets for storage in the bigger bedroom to separate it into two spaces for their kids, which saves space. The bathroom is just big enough to be accessible by a wheelchair, and we used a shower instead of a tub. We also combined the kitchen and dining areas.

What part of the home was the most challenging for students? What is their favorite part of it?
The students liked framing it and setting the beams and SIP panels. Drywall install is always challenging for some students, and proper window and door setting can be complicated as well. Some loved installing the flooring; some hated it. Some loved installing the siding; some hated it. The students who are more particular seemed to enjoy this finish details more, and the students who are less particular seemed to enjoy the framing and siding more.

How can someone purchase a project constructed by the program?
Contact me:

Is there anything else the public should know?
We are one of the best kept secrets of Madison College. Our program not only teaches all the basics of becoming a good beginning craftsperson, we are also out on the cutting edge of construction, and hope to start appealing to a wider audience due to the innovative things we are doing.

The innovation began about eight years ago, when Allie Berenyi was hired to be the new program director and teacher, and she started the program moving more in this direction. It really is incumbent on us to be in front, and training for the future, and also to be partnered with our industry and using us as their sounding board for new ideas. The public can come by and see how SIP panels work and decide to start using them, for instance.

From “Program helps women get into male-dominated field” — When you think of a typical construction worker, a woman may not come to mind. But, the ladies are out to prove that anything guys can do, they can do better.

“We’re trying to draw more women into the skilled trades because economic parody. You make decent money as a skilled trades person” says Sandy Thistle, who teaches construction at Madison College.

Thistle also helps with the ‘Tools for Tomorrow’ program. The program, put on by Madison College, lets ladies get their feet wet in the areas of trade and technology.

Thursday ‘s free workshop focused on homebuilding.

“I run the power tools at home and so I think women are totally capable of doing this type of job” says Maria Kovach, one of the dozen women who turned out to the workshop.

And if you are a woman who’s struggling to support a family, construction may be the way to go.

“Now that the economy’s picking up, there’s demand for this work and there’s nobody trained” says Thistle.

Right now, there are now more people working in construction since August 2009.
Last month, construction employment jumped by 7000.

You can find out more information on the ‘Tools for Tomorrow’ program by heading to:


From “Skilled trades workers needed for new construction projects” — Sun Prairie — Everywhere you look new construction is popping up all over the place in Wisconsin.

While the boom in business is good for the economy, it’s turning into a problem for contractors like Dan Duren.

“Right now, we have people to draw from but we are fighting over those people we have,” said Duren.

He’s the owner of Duren Custom Builders, and has homes to build but not enough skilled tradesmen to work on them.

“There’s concrete work, foundation work, flat work, roofers, siders, insulators, electricians, plumbers, HVAC guys, there’s a whole list,” said Duren.

He’s not the only one on the hunt. Wednesday on Craiglist there were dozens of similar postings. Meantime, at Madison Area Technical College, remodeling instructor John Stephany’s phone is ringing off the hook.

“I already had over a third of our students hired and was fielding calls daily,” said Stephany.

He says the uptick is due to low interest rates, and people deciding to move forward with homes. However, many skilled workers turned in their tool belts during the recession, and now people like Duren are feeling the impact.

“It’s the young guys coming in, the young blood coming into the workforce we’re lacking on,” said Duren.

According to MATC this trend is also happening in other parts of the country like Texas, and Florida, something they believe will only grow in the coming months.


From “Federal index ranks Wis. 49th in economic outlook” — “It’s about a full time job,” said Kandyce Hunter, a recent Madison College grad. She’s currently trying to find her dream job. “Supporting someone in an executive role is what my goal would be,” she said. “In an institution either with education or community outreach.”

But as she’s trying to get into the job market, the state’s forecast for economic conditions is looking a little cloudy. That’s according to the latest Leading Index by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, which ranks the state 49th. The Badger state is one of five with a contraction score; the only state scoring worse is Wyoming.

Countrywide, the index score is predicted to grow by 1.4%.
Wisconsin’s score was -.74.

But not everybody thinks those numbers should lead to panic.
A career and employment specialist with Madison College tells us that job prospects for their graduates are actually pretty good. “We have a wonderful placement rate and I’m very proud of that,” said Rochelle Wanner, a career and employment specialist for the school. “It’s part of the reason why I stay at this college is because we are very successful in helping our students.”

Prospects vary by field, but she said about 68% of their grads end up working in a related field to what they studied. “One of the things I always work with with students is that they have to go out and work for a job, it just doesn’t come to you,” she said. “You got to go out and look for it.”

Hunter’s following that advice–and feeling confident that she’ll find what she wants in the Badger state. “Definitely not going anywhere,” she said. “I feel like with what I’m seeing out there with job prospects it’s pretty positive.”

Now, even though Wisconsin is ranked near the bottom, the state is actually scoring better than it did last month. It’s improved from a score of -1.7 last month to -.74 this month.


From “Madison College instructors use 3-D printers as part of curriculum” — It’s cutting-edge technology at our fingertips. 3-D printers are being used to create everything from cell phone covers to cars to prosthetic limbs. Now, instructors at Madison Area Technical College are implementing the machines into their curriculum.

The printers have been around for decades, but like most technology, over the years the price has dropped and they’re now much more accessible. Come fall, there will be one in dozens of classrooms at Madison College. Now, envisioning an idea, like the architectural plans for a building, will no longer be confined to a computer screen.

“The way is to create the 3-D model in the software,” Jim Grenzow said. “It needs to be translated and sent to this machine. And when we build the model, basically what we do is take sections and 3-4 thousandths of an inch thick and printing them out on this machine.”

Grenzow helps architecture students at Madison College bring their designs to life using a 3-D printer.

“The machine that we have works basically on the principal that if I draw an object, and cut out this object with a razor blade knife,” Grenzow said. “And then transferred that onto each of these sheets of paper, and then cut them out and stacked them all on top of each other, I would have a 3-D object. ”

The process is a layering effect and takes hours to complete. The printer Grenzow works with uses a white flour-like material, but others can use anything from plastic to metal to even sugar or syrup to make food.

“So there are multiple ways to actually create a 3-D product using different materials,” said Ken Starkman, Dean of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology at Madison College. “And I think that’s where we’re going to see these tremendous leaps and bounds in technology here in the coming years and months.”

Starkman says the industry is currently going two ways: One toward the high-end multi-material 3-D printer that major companies and schools may use, and the other toward the less expensive, less complex ones that people can buy for their homes.

“3-D technology will find its way into our kitchens, it will find its way into our home offices,” Starkman said. “It may find its way into shopping malls. When you start thinking in 3-D, the possibilities really become endless.”

But many fear there is also a downside to the printers. The government has been concerned recently about people’s capacity to build their own guns that are made of non-metal based materials, and can easily get through a metal detector.

There is also the concern that manufacturing jobs may soon go away if people are able to use 3-D printers to replace things like car parts all on their own. Starkman says while the face of manufacturing will certainly change, technology will create new demands and therefore new jobs.


From “Apache Tank Donation Prepares Madison College Students for Bio-Engineering Careers” — Madison Area Technical College engineering students presented their class project, a biodiesel blending system, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison May 8th, 2013. Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation donated the stainless storage tank used in the project and the biodiesel system will also be shown at collegiate fairs and educational outreach events.

The Madison College engineering students were tasked with developing a system that was capable of blending biodiesel with petro-diesel and fuel additives for improved performance in extreme seasonal temperatures. The students also had to design around safety, transportability, power and budget constraints. Apache was one of several equipment manufacturers to donate components to the project.

“Apache is committed to build strong community ties where we live, work and go to school,” says Ed Paradowski, Apache President, “being part of this project not only helps Madison College engineering students, it also helps with the overall promotion of education in the field of fabrication and manufacturing.”

As a group, students engineered the blending system from start to finish. Apache supplied a 60 gallon, pickle passivated stainless tank with a vent fitting according their their design and specifications. The welding, fabrication, plumbing and electrical was all accomplished by the engineering students at Madison College.

Apache serves the biofuel industry with many types of specialized tanks, including: distillation columns, evaporators, ASME vessels, API-650 Vessels, clad vessels, custom mix tanks and storage tanks. The Apache facility in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin is fully equipped with machines and processes for shearing, forming, welding, rolling and in-house head making. The company also provides finishing capabilities, including automated mechanical polishing, electro-polishing and passivation. Another facility in Plover, Wisconsin produces carbon steel tanks and equipment.


From “MATC students go to flight school building unmanned drones” — Hovering just feet above the gym floor at Madison Area Technical College: what some see as the future of flight and others see as a scary vision of a future without privacy.

At first, it looks like a rudimentary model aircraft — two aluminum tubes flared in a V-shape with eight tiny propellers spaced evenly atop the tubes and four padded wiffle balls below as landing gear. It has powers — remotely scanning and recording product labels — that have businesses drooling at the possibilities for doing warehouse inventory. It’s operated by Gregory Kolaske of Fitchburg.

“This is a hobby gone crazy, a hobby gone wild,” said the soon-to-be-graduate in supervisory management and industrial maintenance. “The sophistication is amazing. It’s cutting-edge.”

It’s also controversial. The craft Kolaske was flying, part of a class of planes called unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, has generated such widespread privacy concerns that it has brought together state Republicans and Democrats in opposition.

Last week a bipartisan group of state legislators introduced a bill to require police to obtain a search warrant before collecting evidence with a drone and disqualify evidence gathered by a drone if a warrant wasn’t obtained first.

“Drones are no longer multimillion-dollar machines and can now be bought by anyone at hobby shops,” said Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison. “Our laws must catch up to technology to ensure the public’s right to privacy.”

Peaceful purposes

Despite their infamy as instruments of war abroad and privacy invaders at home, drones are seen by some as a massively expanding technology for use by businesses, researchers and government agencies for peaceful, non-controversial means.

Real estate companies could offer advance tours of high-rise buildings. Police departments could conduct missing-person searches in remote wilderness areas. Environmental groups could deploy them each spring for population counts of threatened species.

UW-Madison researchers have, after obtaining permits, found the craft extremely effective in monitoring coastal hurricanes and collecting environmental data on streams in rural Wisconsin. An industry group projects growth in spending in the technology to total nearly $90 billion in the next decade worldwide, the bulk of it in the U.S.

Thomas Kaminski, a former NASA computer engineer and instructor of industrial maintenance at MATC, sensed the growing opportunities in the field. This spring, for the first time he offered a class for students interested in designing and flying the craft.

Three local businesses — JH Findorff & Son builders, Sanchez Industrial Design, a Middleton environmental monitoring firm, and Matrix Product Development, a Sun Prairie technology firm — donated money for materials and equipment. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers of Madison gave an additional $1,000 educational grant.

“This technology is important,” Kaminski said. “It gets you into the air like a bird.”

What’s new is the ability to attach high-tech gadgets to the planes that essentially allow them to fly themselves, usually at lower altitudes than piloted craft can reach, using computer-generated models. While aloft, they can collect a vast array of data, whether through high-tech cameras or sensors.

Another change: the cost. Kaminski held up a half-dollar-sized black chip called a microcontroller that serves as the devices’ navigation and guidance system.

“Thirty five years ago, this would have cost half a million dollars,” he said. “Now, it’s $50.”

‘Spectacular crashes’

The 12 students in the class worked in teams to build four drones, splitting up duties that included heavy doses of electronics and computer programming plus the mechanical tasks of constructing and repairing the planes.

Their task was to design each plane with a specific industry task in mind. For example, the plane Kolaske was flying on Friday was rigged up with a product scanner to take inventory remotely.

They took advantage of freely available software online.

“It’s amazing how much work people have done to make this software available to everyone,” said Bernard Brauer of Middleton, who’s graduating this week with a degree in electrical engineering technology. “I’m taken aback by that.”

On Friday, the class took their creations to the college’s gym to go flying. The Federal Aviation Administration currently bans flying drones for commercial purposes or within three miles of an airport, forcing the students to stay inside. It might have been for the best.

“We’re all fairly green flyers,” Brauer said shortly after a classmate’s drone crashed with a fairly spectacular thud into one of the gym’s walls. They created a “wall of flame” to display all the mangled parts from flights gone wrong.

By last Friday, most of the flights got off the ground and landed safely, a sign they’d overcome their early struggles.

“We’ve had some spectacular crashes,” said Matt Filutowicz of Madison. “It takes months to gather the confidence and skill to do this well.”

The planes are designed to be hybrids, able to be controlled remotely like traditional model aircraft but also programmed for autopilot with no human at the controls.

None of the class’ craft quite got up to piloting itself, though the plane designed by Brauer and partner Rahim Errouhi of Fitchburg came close.

The students reported learning a lot about the expanding technology and having plenty of fun along the way. They’re not likely to be able to use their skills in the near future, as the FAA isn’t expected to lift its current ban on drones for commercial uses until 2015.


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