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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


From “Moraine Park Technical College is again offering CNC & Welding Boot Camps” — Moraine Park Technical College is combating the skilled worker shortage by launching manufacturing skills academies in a series of 15-week boot camps.

The next information/testing sessions are scheduled in August 2014 for Fall CNC Boot Camp at the Fond du Lac Campus and Welding Boot Camp at the Jackson Campus. Registration is required. Each session will include: Information, Tours, TABE Testing, and Mechanical Aptitude Testing.

From “MPTC hosts cancer survivor beauty and support day” — Moraine Park Technical College is  hosting a Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day for cancer survivors.

The event will take place from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10, at Techniques Salon and Spa at the Fond du Lac campus.

The day is part of a national effort to provide support and free pampering for cancer survivors.

Cosmetology students at Moraine Park will offer survivors services such as manicures, pedicures, facials, haircuts and scalp treatments. All cancer survivors are invited to attend, but appointments are required to guarantee service.

Each year thousands of salons, spas and cosmetology schools volunteer their time and services to cancer survivors across the nation. This is the third year MPTC cosmetology students have hosted the event.

From “RAHS seniors graduate college” — By Julie Belschner – Reedsburg Area High School seniors Maura Machovec, Terra Kauffman and Payton Legner have graduated from Middle College. A graduation ceremony was held May 13 at Madison Area Technical College-Reedsburg campus to honor their accomplishments in the healthcare track of the program.

Graduation ceremonies were held across the South Central Wisconsin region to honor 40 high school seniors from 12 school districts graduating from the healthcare and manufacturing program tracks. The graduates are now preparing for paid summer work-experience opportunities with local businesses as part of the Middle College program.

Founded in 2010, Middle College is a dual-credit career pathway program targeted toward high school juniors who are interested in advancing their education in targeted industry sectors. Students study concepts in healthcare or manufacturing during the regular school year at participating Madison Area Technical College or Moraine Park Technical College campuses. The program track allows for students to take college classes while they work to complete their high school graduation requirements. Students may earn up to 30 free college credits upon successful program completion and have the opportunity to participate in up to two paid work experiences with local companies as part of the program.

The program is administered by the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, which partners with technical colleges to provide technical college training and curriculum for the program. Upon enrollment into the Middle College, participating high school students achieve college status and enrollment with the technical college. The board collaborates with employers and employees in Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Jefferson, Marquette and Sauk counties to promote a healthy economy; it continually seeks innovative solutions to the economic challenges that face today’s workforce.

From “Veterans service expanding with new entrance at MPTC” — Moraine Park Technical College has received a grant that will help fund a veteran’s representative at the Fond du Lac campus. Sally Ruback is the Enrollment Services Manager for MPTC. She says that representative will be located near their new entrance when it opens next January. She says there is a growing veteran’s population in the community and funding is available for them to continue their education so they needed someone near the entrance to fill them in on those opportunities.

With the new location will be an expanded students services area including an area for the new veteran’s representative.  She says the new entrance will be a great way for the college to show its support for veteran and students alike. Ground will be broken for the addition June 2nd with a targeted completion date of November 28th. 


From “Students visit Miller Manufacturing” — New Holstein High School students enrolled in the Moraine Park Technical College Articulated Drafting class visited Miller Manufacturing of St. Nazianz on Thursday, May 8. Over the past three months students created 45 working drawings for the worldwide agricultural manufacturer.

The students’ drawings were being used to cut out metal parts on a CNC plasma torch. The tour started with a company introduction followed by a plant tour.

The first stop on the tour was a table full of parts waiting to get welded and painted. As they stood over the parts students realized that the blueprints underneath each part were the exact blueprints that they made in the classroom.

Students said they were excited to see that Miller was actually using their custom made blueprints on their manufacturing floor.

“This really brought itself full circle as we toured the rest of the plant and got to see how our drawings are going to help with Miller’s lean manufacturing approach,” teacher Ted Bonde said.

The tour ended and it was then the engineers’ turn. Drafting students were able to see how Miller’s drafting software is used to aid in manufacturing. Before they left, Miller paid back the students by handing out a T-shirt and meal for their work well done.

This relationship has helped these NHHS students grasp the real life application of their drafting software and its importance in the world of manufacturing.

Bonde said, “I would like to say thank you to Miller for the opportunity and support to help reiterate the importance of what we teach at the high school level.”





From “North Fond du Lac and Moraine Park team up to help adult students with disabilities” — Hunter Develice of Fond du Lac has a dream of someday working as an animator for Walt Disney Studios.

The 19-year-old is looking forward to a career, but at the same time he is among a growing number of young adults with disability who need help transitioning into college life. Every day he deals with both the positive and negative aspects of autism.

“I want people to know that living with autism is just different,” he said. “When my brain works differently I have a hard time understanding things like jokes. I can get frustrated when there is too much information at one time.”

His mother, Laurie Develice, is a member of Fond du Lac County Community on Transitions and decided to bring up the lack of programming in the area for students like her son.

“These kids want to go on to post-secondary training but they need to be able to do certain things like identify themselves with a disability and advocate for themselves,” she said.

She caught the ear of board member Jana Weigandt, who serves as special education teacher and transition coordinator for the North Fond du Lac School District. The two visited Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay to view a program run in cooperation with CESA 7. The program has grown significantly in seven years and serves 18- to 21-year-olds with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“I instantly fell in love with the program and told our Superintendent Aaron Sadoff about it and he was all for it,” Weigandt said. “He said as a school district we will do whatever it takes to make this happen.”

Program start

Learning for Independence will be offered this fall at Moraine Park Technical College in conjunction with the North Fond du Lac School District. The program is designed for students who have completed four years of high school but need help bridging the gap from high school into the post-secondary educational setting or workforce.

The goal is to help students gain confidence and learn skills to better advocate for themselves, not only in a college setting but also in the community, said Laurie Develice. Very often students with disabilities end up with much higher unemployment rates.

“These kids need some help with social skills. This program acts as a bridge and gives kids an opportunity to be in that inclusive environment taught by adjunct professors” Laurie Develice said.

Bonnie Bauer, director of admissions at MPTC, said three non-credit classes will be offered each semester. The first courses will be self-determination, technology basics and personal safety. If enough students enroll, they can continue in the program the following year, she said.

“Students will benefit from being in an age-appropriate environment,” Bauer said. “I’m most excited that they will be able to participate in all student life activities and really get a feel for college.”

The North Fond du Lac School District will serve as the fiscal agent for the program.

School districts in Wisconsin are required to educate a student with disabilities until the age of 21, so the student’s school district will pay for the cost of the program, somewhere between $3,000 to $3,500. All students will receive a Chromebook. Between eight and 15 students are expected the first year.

Barb Zimmerman, retired transition coordinator for the Rosendale-Brandon School District, will serve as program director.

Looking forward

Hunter Develice has been taking independent study classes to learn Pro Cut X for video editing and computer classes. He completed an internship at Mercury Marine in the print shop and also works in the copy room at Fond du Lac High School. He works part time at Cartridge World.

“I hope to learn to get comfortable working at MPTC,” he said. “I look forward to learning more about animation and computers.”

Laurie Develice knows that new things can be a little scary for people with autism.

“It’s exciting to know that he will be in a supportive setting that will help him look forward to the future,” she said.

The Fond du Lac program is open to students in all Fond du Lac area school districts and is now accepting applications. Information is available through case managers at area school districts or from Debbie Ellingen, director of special education, or Jana Weigandt at the North Fond du Lac School District at (920) 929-3750.

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