From “Seven NWTC students win gold at SkillsUSA State Conference” — Seven Northeast Wisconsin Technical College trades students will compete against
the nation’s best after taking gold in the SkillsUSA Wisconsin State Leadership & Skills Conference April 29-30 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

NWTC students Trevor Lustilla, Brandon Janssen, Chris Lacenski, Jacob Schultz and a team of Brent Champan, Jeff Lidbury, and Nathan Mertens each captured first place in their categories and will move on the national SkillsUSA Conference in Kansas City June 23-27. Lustilla took gold in Automotive Refinishing Technology, Janssen in CNC Milling, Lacenski in Welding, Schultz in Welding Sculpture, and Champan, Lidbury and Mertens won for Welding Fabrication. Instructor Doug Tennant was also named State Advisor of the Year.

In the SkillsUSA competition, students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in areas like electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting, culinary arts and more.

Other NWTC students placing in the state competition include the team of Matt Baenen, Dylan Pulley, Cory Wotachek, who took silver in Automated Manufacturing Technology, Sam Buhk, Fred Culvahouse, and Amy Koenig, who captured bronze in the same category, Alan Stefanic, who won bronze in Automotive Refinishing Technology, Eric Burch with a silver in Diesel Equipment Technology, Cole Dollar who won silver in Welding, and James Maryniak, who won silver in Welding Sculpture.

From “Suicide awareness display at NWTC” — GREEN BAY – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College wants people to talk more about college suicides.

A Send Silence Packing display was put up Wednesday. 1,100 backpacks were laid out to represent the estimated 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year.

Some included stories about the people behind the numbers.

Organizers say while talking about suicide can be uncomfortable, it must be done.

“It’s something we really haven’t talked enough about. You know, if we’re not talking about it, then people aren’t getting hooked up with a lot of the resources that could help them you know make some different choices and get them the help that they need,” said Paul Valencic, NWTC mental health counselor.

The national nonprofit Active Minds presented the display. Organizers say NWTC students are working to open their own chapter on campus.

From “Walker touts $35 million plan to bolster technical education” — Legislation signed earlier this week by Gov. Scott Walker allocates $35.4 million to help fund the education of the next generation of workers in Wisconsin.

Walker was at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Tuesday discussing the funding designed to bolster technical education at the college and primary education level.

“It’s all about training more the skills needed to fill the jobs today and the ones that will be coming up in the next couple of years, and this is the place to make that happen,” he said.

Walker said Northeast Wisconsin Technical College beefed up its training on computer numeric control machines after the Northeastern Manufacturing Alliance reported a need for CNC operators.

“We want to help campuses like this, and across the state, do more of that in the future,” Walker said. “We’ll also use a portion of this money to help school districts across the state get additional resources to partner for dual enrollment so young people get credit in both the high schools and technical colleges.”

This was Walker’s second stop in the Green Bay area in as many days, and he’s been a frequent visitor to the area in the past month stopping at a number of area businesses to talk about the importance of manufacturing to the state and the need to train skilled workers for immediate and future needs.

A portion of the money will also be used to help employers identify the skill sets disabled residents in the state bring to the workplace.

“The baby boom generation is at, or near, retirement and when that happens there is going to be this huge amount of openings and we’re going to need more skilled workers .. and more people working, period,” he said. “We can’t afford to have anyone who wants to work not be able to work.”

The money is appropriated through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

“We put $15 million in the budget there to do customized worker training, this additional money will be on top of that,” Walker said. “They’ll work directly with technical college campuses… to say, ‘What do you need? Where are your shortages?”

From “Baldwin: Clean energy bill would aid schools, employers” — Passage of a Senate bill aimed at bolstering education and training for students who want to work in clean-energy jobs would benefit schools and factories in Northeastern Wisconsin, the bill’s sponsor said Wednesday in Green Bay.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said her proposal would help create good-paying jobs in a growing industry, while supporting technical colleges that offer coursework that prepares students for “green energy” careers. The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation Act, or GREEN, was introduced last week and calls for about $100 million in spending.

“The idea is to make some very prudent, very targeted investments in an area that’s growing … faster than the economy overall,” she said.

The senator met with educators and some students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Great Lakes Energy Education Center as part of a statewide tour to tout her bill, introduced last week. NWTC offers programs that prepare students for energy jobs, and is increasing the percentage of its energy supply that comes from green sources.

Scott Liddicott, who teaches energy-management classes at Green Bay Southwest High School, said it’s exciting to hear support for energy education at the federal level.

“It’s so easy to get students and teachers interested in this,” he said. “It’s a compelling and dynamic field. The energy business is really important stuff.”

Baldwin’s bill would allocate grant money for programs that prepare students for jobs, or to attend post-secondary schools. Her office said clean-energy jobs pay about 13 percent better than the average job in the U.S., and the field is growing nearly twice the rate of the national economy.

A hospital in western Wisconsin, she told educators, “completely redid its energy systems” to emphasize green power, and as a result was able to save patients money and avoid staff cuts.

A number of Wisconsin technical college leaders, including NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna K. Foy, have expressed support for the bill. NWTC partners with area school districts, including ones in De Pere and Sturgeon Bay, to deliver energy education, said Amy Kox, the college’s associate dean for energy and sustainability.

A bill similar to Baldwin’s was introduced in the House of Representatives in June and remains in committee, according to, which tracks federal legislation. The bill, by California Democrat Jerry McNerney, also would spend $100 million to develop career and technical education programs, and facilities in the renewable energy field.

Baldwin Wednesday also visited Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. She is slated to visit Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids today.

Tour NWTC’s new expansion

January 13, 2014

From “A tour of NWTC’s new expansion” —  GREEN BAY — More and more people are looking to preventative and in-home care as the American population continues to age.

A new expansion at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is helping nursing students be better prepared for the changes.

The 13,000 sq. ft. expansion includes three new learning labs — a wellness lab, a caregiver learning center and a simulation lab.

Nursing student Chris Krzewina said the simulation lab is one of the best ways for NWTC students to get experience in patient care.

“It’s a really safe environment,” said Krzewina. “I mean, we don’t have to worry about anyone full-out crashing on us.”

In the lab, students can practice their skills on life-like mannequins that are controlled by instructors. The mannequins have a pulse, and can breathe and even talk to them.

“Now we’re just going to be taking your blood pressure on your arm, OK?” Krzewina asked the mannequin. “Ok, the instructor replied as the voice of the mannequin.

The technology allows instructors to help prepare students for any type of real-life scenario.

“We can use the rare conditions in simulation, something that the students would not typically experience and give them that experience as well,” said Jeff Matzke, a nursing instructor at NWTC.

Students studying in the new wellness lab will learn theory and practice patient coaching techniques that focus on preventative care, something educators say is becoming more popular in the U.S.

“When we talk about cost of health care, which is on a lot of people’s minds these days, prevention is really the best cost,” said Scott Anderson, associate dean of Health Sciences at NWTC. “So how do we keep people out of the health care system? We do that through behavior change and lifestyle change.”

As the population continues to age, student will have to be prepared for another growing trend, in-home care.

“We have our whole kitchen here, or our whole apartment set up here, so that our students will incur some barriers because then we can teach them here in the classroom how to work with those barriers,” said Cindy Theys, associate dean of Health Sciences. “So by the time they get out to someone’s home, they’re going to have tips and tricks to know how to better care for those people in their home.”

No matter kind of patient care students choose to focus on, educators and students said the new learning labs helps give them the hands-on experience they’ll need to succeed.

The total cost for the new expansion was $3.5 million. Gifts from donors covered about $1.1 million.


From “NWTC set to offer student housing” — GREEN BAY – Expanding the college experience is what Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is looking to do by offering students on-campus housing.

A privately-owned and operated dorm is in the works to be built and ready for students in the fall of 2015.

After more than a century of educating students, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is taking the first steps to house students on campus as well.

Plans are set to break ground next year on the college’s first dormitory.

“The scope and the depth and the breadth of the college has changed so much in 100 years, it seems to be the next evolution of what the technical college can offer the community,” said Karen Smits, NWTC vice president of college advancement.

Smits says the college entered into a deal with DeLeers Construction which will build and own the student housing building. DeLeers purchased this private land on the east side of campus and will pay to build and manage the four-story, 216-bed facility. It won’t cost NWTC or taxpayers anything.

“It’s not like the dorm when I went to college. These are apartments where students will share common rooms and each have their own bedroom,” said Smits.

The concept of housing at smaller community colleges is growing in demand according to Smits. Last year UW-Fox Valley expanded to offer student housing for the first time near its Menasha campus through a private company.

“This is a public venture, but we are here to help and support that, but it is definitely the developers that are in complete control of all the housing issues,” said Carla Rabe, UW-Fox Valley assistant dean in January 2012.

An NWTC survey last year found students wanted the option of student housing to help round out their college experience.

More than 40,000 student take classes at NWTC, 7,600 are full time students. So a dorm accommodating 200 is expected to fill up. Could there be more dorms in the future? College officials say don’t rule it out.

From “Workers needed, but manufacturing healthy in region” – There is a lot of good manufacturing news in Northeastern Wisconsin, but long-term challenges remain.

Manufacturing companies report they are healthy, modernizing and expecting growth in sales in 2014. They also continue to struggle to find qualified workers, a problem that will remain critical as baby boomers retire and employers add new machines that require better-trained operators.

Those are the findings of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance’s 2014 Manufacturing Vitality Index, released Friday during the annual NEW North Summit in Ashwaubenon.

Fifty-one percent of the surveyed companies reported increased sales in 2013 and 66 percent are expecting more increases next year. Fifty percent are planning plant modernization, as was the case last year, and three out of four expect to hire. But there’s the rub. Sixty percent report having difficulty finding qualified workers.

“The skills shortage hasn’t changed a dramatic amount year to year,” said Scott Kettler, general manager of Fox Cities manufacturing sites for Plexus Corp. and incoming president of the Manufacturing Alliance. “We see people are hiring and we have that growth. What the index says to me is we are not out-pacing our growth.”

The five most difficult-to-fill positions include machinist/CNC machinist, machine operator, truck driver, team assembler and engineering technician. Welders remain in the top 10, though progress has been made in this region in supplying them.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay is turning out 140 welding graduates a year, up from a handful five years ago. It also will train 100 CNC graduates this year and hopes to increase that to 130 next year, said Mark Weber, dean of training and engineering technologies at NWTC.

The Manufacturing Alliance was formed to get educators, students and parents thinking differently about manufacturing.

“I think that the tide has turned,” Weber said. “I’ve seen that in a relatively short time in the discussions I’ve had with K-12s. Before, you couldn’t get them to talk about manufacturing. Now they are calling us to talk about manufacturing.”

Manufacturing accounts for 23 percent of Northeastern Wisconsin’s jobs, and Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in with 19 percent of jobs in manufacturing.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s “Industrial Cities Initiative” called Green Bay a “resurgent city.” It said the region had four areas that predict economic strength: leadership, regionalism, workforce development and economic development finance.

But the alliance report says long-term demographics are not favorable. Some companies are losing 10 percent or more of their workforce annually to retirement and more people turn 65 each year than turn 18.

A key to mitigating the problem is to get more people interested in manufacturing, Kettler said.

“We have to solve our own problem. We have to continue to work with the education system,” he said. “I want to continue to focus on working with our manufacturers to continue to get involved. Our focus needs to be on that 8-12 (grade) range and we need to turn parents’ minds around that manufacturing is a viable career.”

Many efforts are underway. Some companies are working directly with local high schools, such as Ariens Co. in Brillion and Precision Machine in Algoma. Others are sending workers into classrooms to talk about manufacturing, and NWTC, in collaboration with the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, is sending a classroom — it’s mobile CNC lab — to the students.

“It’s no one thing that’s helping. It’s all of those things; working with high schools, working with manufacturers themselves,” Weber said.

Kettler said companies are taking workers with lesser skills and trying to grow them internally.

“It’s slower and more expensive and it’s not hiring for the future as much,” he said.

The good news, though, shouldn’t be overlooked, he said. Ninety-two percent of companies said they expect to be healthier next year. Half are planning modernization projects in 2014, compared to 46 percent last year and 36 percent in 2012.

“We are seeing companies invest,” he said.

The survey was based on the telephone responses of 111 companies with $3 million or more in annual revenue and 25 or more employees. It had a 28 percent response rate and 95 percent level of confidence. It was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Business Success Center.


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