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Student Returns to School after 24 Years in Manufacturing



When Alfredo Gomez lost his manufacturing job of 24 years, he knew it was time to return to school and resume his education in order to build a better career to support himself and his family.

Currently training in Machine Tooling Technics at Madison Area Technical College, Alfredo had a lot of work to do before getting into the program.  His first step at the college was to earn his GED.  That was followed by three certificates and several credentials in the area of manufacturing funded by the TAACCCT Advance Wisconsin Manufacturing grant.  Plus, he took classes to improve his English language skills.  So now, he is working toward a technical diploma in Machine Tooling Technics, which prepares students for a careers in tool and die making, mold making, CNC programming, quality control inspection, and precision and repair machining.

Alfredo has approached his education at Madison College with such enthusiasm that he won the Exemplary Student of the Year Award for the School of Applied Science, Engineering, and Technology for 2014-15.  Claudette Zweifel, the coordinator of his program, noted Alfredo’s dedication, work ethic, and outstanding character.  One of his instructors said, “Not all students easily transition from the TAACCCT program into the Machine Tool program, but Alfredo has earned the respect of the other students by working long hours in the shop and being a natural leader.”

Alfredo followed a similar path of many Mexican immigrants to the United States.  As a teenager, he started working in the farm fields of California, where his education took a back seat to day-to-day survival.  After that, Alfredo moved to Wisconsin to live with his uncle, where he was hired by Trostel, a manufacturer of custom rubber products and compounds.  He had a long run there as a machine operator until they moved their operations out of the United States and laid off many of their workers, including Alfredo.

Now, with the opportunity of education and a revitalized career, Alfredo is distinguishing himself among his classmates.  He organized a group of students from Whitewater to carpool to school, and he makes sure others around him are learning, by helping them with their English and technical training.  It is important to Alfredo that no one feels left out or falls behind in their school work.  He said, “This has been a great experience.  What I have learned in the United States at the college level has exceeded my expectations.”

Most recently, thanks to his training at Madison College, Alfredo was hired as a mold technician by a company located close to his hometown, and they are allowing him to work part time until he completes the Machine Tool Technics diploma.  Given Alfredo’s strong work ethic and positive attitude, it sounds as if that company is lucky to have him.

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Wisconsin’s TAACCCT 2 Project Team Presents at National Conference

Several members from Wisconsin’s TAACCCT 2 Grant Team (Making the Future: The Wisconsin Strategy) attended the TAACCCT On! Conference in Topeka, KS at the beginning of October. It was a great opportunity to collaborate and network with other TAACCCT grantees and share best practices. Wisconsin’s team presented a workshop about the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process being developed.

Todd Mattison, the grant’s project manager, also gave an informal overview of Wisconsin’s Round 2 grant objectives during a showcase fair at the event (Todd is featured at :55).

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