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Spotlights and News: Manufacturing
October is here and so is Manufacturing Month. Companies, colleges and associations are celebrating in a bit way. WMC has a list of all the great events happening across the state over the next month.
– Open Houses
– Job Fairs
– Grand Openings
– Virtual Events
Check it out and see why manufacturing plays such a key role in Wisconsin’s economy.
Lizbeth Ocasio, Waukesha County Technical College
“It feels empowering,” says Lizbeth Ocasio about entering the male-dominated field of welding. Currently, she is a student in the Metal Fabrication/Welding Associate of Applied Science program at Waukesha County
Technical College (WCTC), where she describes her instructors as excellent and skillful and her fellow students as very supportive. Through hands-on work at school and studying with her classmates, she is preparing for career success.
Lizbeth came to WCTC after three years as a bilingual (Spanish and English) customer service representative with BuySeasons, Inc., a Wisconsin-based costume and party retailer and wholesaler. When the company started outsourcing its customer service operations to the Philippines, Lizbeth was among 100 people to be laid off in 2013.
Fortunately, BuySeasons offered a generous severance package that included financial support for education, which gave Lizbeth the means to return to college. Then, thanks to the opportunity to job shadow a few welders and masons, people whom Lizbeth says are passionate about their work, she realized that she too wanted to create things. She adds that the use of fire in the process fascinates her.
That led Lizbeth back to Waukesha County Technical College, where she had been a student several years earlier. She grew up in Waukesha, and originally enrolled in the college’s accounting program. However, the courses helped her see that she prefers a more active career than accounting, and she left before graduating to take the position at BuySeasons.
This time around, Lizbeth is more confident of her career choice. Once she completes her degree at WCTC, she is aiming to become an underwater welder. Lizbeth knows that will require advanced training in scuba diving for her to become certified for the specialized work involved. But, she says it will be worth it because the field of underwater welding, which involves working on bridges, ships, tanks, offshore oil rigs, and more, could give her the chance to travel and see the world.
Ben Marlowe is a Madison College student who earned certificates in Manufacturing Essentials and CNC Operations. He also received a college-wide honor at Madison College’s Annual Celebration of Student Success Ceremony this past spring. Claudette Zweifel, Madison College’s Advance Wisconsin – Manufacturing program coordinator, nominated Ben. Here’s what she had to say:
“Ben inspired me with his story, his journey and how far he has come as a successful learner at Madison College. Ben has a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. Due to his disability, Ben spent much of his youth being pulled out of school to attend therapy. He fell behind in school, especially with his reading and math skills. Ben recognizes this as an adult and is working hard to make up for the lost academic time he experienced in grade school and high school.
Ben completed TAACCCT grant funded Manufacturing Essentials Certificate and the CNC Operations Certificate. Ben wants to continue on with the grant’s next cohort of CNC Set-up Technician Certificate next year. He is eager to learn and improve his skills to be successful in the classroom and on the job.
Ben sets a good example in class by working hard and getting his work done on time. He views school as his job. He believes his grades are like his paycheck; his attendance is like punching a clock. Ben is conscientious of learning the machines he is working on. He realizes that on the job you are not able to call a friend or look something up; you need to be confident in your skills! It is
an honor to know Ben and nominate him as an Exemplary Learner!”
Each Advance Wisconsin – Manufacturing program can change students’ lives. Our programs are structured in a way to help people gain the confidence they need to improve their skills to get a good job.
#TAACCCT #MadisonCollege #changinglives #JobUp #Manufacturing #AdvanceWisconsin
Jerry Stanislawski, Chippewa Valley Technical College
When Jerry Stanislawski started at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in October 2013, there was one transition he did not have to make. It is located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, across the street from Hutchinson Technology, where he had worked since 1999. “It’s just like I’m still going to work,” Jerry said of the drive.
Jerry had been laid off the previous fall from his position as a Lean-certified supervisor in the company’s Disk Drive Components Division. He had started at Hutchinson as an operator and was laid off for the first time in 2000. He then returned to the company in 2003 as a process specialist and was promoted to supervisor. In between, he had worked in carpentry, but found it less stable than manufacturing. Unfortunately, this second layoff seems more final, as the company has moved some of its manufacturing operations to Japan, China, and Thailand.
As it turns out, CVTC is not Jerry’s first college. After graduating from high school, he spent two years studying at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, before deciding it was not a good fit and taking the job at Hutchinson instead. This time around Jerry finds himself closer in age to the instructors than the other students. But, it’s a positive thing that has helped him develop a good rapport with his instructors. And, that has helped him successfully make the transition to being a student again.
The most challenging part of being an older adult student is that he is balancing school with family responsibilities. He and his wife are raising their 10-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son. His wife recently completed her college degree, so they have been juggling being students and parents for a few years. Nonetheless, they are hopeful that their education will lead to better jobs, which will help the family in the long run.
Jerry is in the Machine Tooling Technics technical diploma program, which emphasizes automated machining processes with computer numerical controlled (CNC) milling and turning centers. “I’m learning a whole new language with the computer programming, which is great” he said. He also describes himself as meticulous and says he loves to work in small parts manufacturing.
He’ll graduate from the program in May 2015, and he feels good about his job prospects because the outlook for machine tooling and CNC operating looks promising. Plus, employers start recruiting CVTC students in their fourth semester. Jerry hopes to combine his new skills with his supervisory experience to run a machine shop.
#CVTC #newcareer #CNC #jobloss
Last week several individuals gathered for the annual trades and technology training meeting coordinated by Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). Deans, associate deans and related education directors from WTCS came together to discuss various topics and participate in this two day meeting.
One day consisted of professional development activities facilitated by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Advance Wisconsin – Manufacturing has been working with CAEL as part of a grant deliverable. The goal is to further define credit for prior learning as it relates to the TAACCCT grant focused programs. CAEL’s training for the college staff included describing what credit for prior learning is, working through a real case study on prior learning, sharing prior learning assessment processes, work on a potential introduction to welding curriculum alignment activity and discussion on how to advance credit for prior learning in welding and strategies for assessment and faculty engagement.
The TAACCCT grant has provided an outlet and resources for colleges to further work together in addressing consistency in awarding credit for prior learning. This is especially important for displaced workers. Credit for their prior experience/skills allows the individuals to begin their training at a more advanced point in the curriculum. Many times they are able to obtain their credential in a shorter period of time to return to the workforce.
Kevin Koch, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
When Kevin Koch started his career in manufacturing 20 years ago, it was hard to know there would be instability ahead. He was employed by Fisher Scientific, at a facility that manufactured fume hoods and wood and steel cabinets for schools, hospitals, and labs. It was going well for Kevin until the company shut down those operations in Wisconsin and relocated them in Mexico, which left Kevin and many others without jobs.
While investigating manufacturing opportunities in northeast Wisconsin, Kevin discovered there was high demand for CNC technicians. That led him to enroll in the Machine Tool – CNC Technician program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Spring 2013.
Kevin had been out of school for a few decades, so he was required to take prerequisites in math, economics, communications, writing, and computers in 2012, before beginning the CNC Technician program. He especially found the computer classes to be helpful in getting him up to speed with that technology, which is so integral to the CNC field.
It was challenging for Kevin to get used to being in academic classes again, but he said the instructors were very knowledgeable and helpful. As for the technical classes that were part of the CNC Technician program, he said, “They offered a lot of good, practical training.”
“I am very appreciative of the program at NWTC,” he added. “It opened doors for me, and it helped me get a job right away,” From the college, Kevin learned of the Wisconsin TechConnect website, a searchable employment database for Wisconsin Technical College Systems students and graduates. And, thanks to that, he found a new job.
As for “right away,” Kevin was not kidding. He graduated from NWTC’s Machine Lathe – CNC Technician program on May 9, 2014, and started his new job three days later, on May 12. He is now working as a machinist for a stamping manufacturer. He started out on manual lathe machines, with the hope of advancing to CNC machines. “Everything I learned in the NWTC program, I am now using on the job,” he explained.
As for the present, Kevin is happy being a machinist and applying his new knowledge and skills. If that keeps him in manufacturing until he retires, he feels that would be great.
Learn more about this program»
#CNC #NWTC #AdvanceWisconsin #NewJob #TAACCCT
Bruce Gunderson, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior
Thanks to the advances of computer technology, the field of welding has changed a lot in the last 30 years. And, thanks to advances in education and current federal government funding, technical colleges have changed a lot in that time period as well.
Bruce Gunderson knows this firsthand because he has returned to train in welding after decades away from it. Right out of high school, he enrolled in a technical college program, but did not finish it. Instead, his career took a few
interesting detours before he found his way back to welding, this time at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior (WITC).
The restaurant business was Bruce’s first career. While still in high school, he had worked in a restaurant, and later, he left his first welding program to take a position as a cook. From there, he worked his way up in the business to become the assistant general manager for a Ground Round. When that restaurant chain reorganized itself, Bruce redefined himself.
He went to work in a wood processing plant, where they manufactured hardboard which is used in cars, furniture, and peg boards. That gave him a good run of 20 years until too much competition from overseas plants forced that company to close its operations in northern Wisconsin, and Bruce was laid off.
At that point, Bruce decided it was time to finally complete his training in welding because there is a great demand for welders, the compensation is good, and WITC is close to his home.
His WITC welding instructor, John Palmer, says that, “a short nine months retraining prepares [students] for entry to a new career where there are shortages of mature, skilled workers.”
As far as differences between then and now, Bruce says that the college requires students to take academic classes along with the technical classes. He has taken classes in trigonometry and geometry, writing, and human relations, all of which are designed to help students learn professional skills. He has found that welding now uses more sophisticated, smaller machines, which are digital.
Looking back, Bruce said he has been fortunate to find three career fields that he enjoys. “When you like your job, it makes it worthwhile,” he explained. “My dad always said, ‘If you don’t like your job, find something else.’ ”
Looking ahead, Bruce said he likes the precision of the welding process. He is concentrating on iron welding and earning his certification in it because the iron-ore mines in Minnesota have created a demand for that expertise.
#TAACCCT #WITC #AdvanceWisconsin #Welding #JobDemand
Don Gross, Blackhawk Technical College
Just two years ago, U.S. Navy veteran Don Gross had hit a very low point in his life through the loss of his job, home, car and marriage. Now, thanks to help from Blackhawk Technical College and the Rock Valley Community Programs, he is turning his life around.
Don enlisted in the navy right out of high school. Since it was during the Post-Vietnam Era with relatively few military conflicts, he never saw combat. Instead, he served as an electrician on surface vessels for three years. Once he completed his service, he returned home to Illinois and received an associate’s degree from Highland Community College in Freeport.
That led Don to a 20 year career in industrial maintenance, working for various companies, including a steel foundry and a hospital. His career was going well for him until his 2006 lay off from a printing company that was going bankrupt. After that, he did a short stint at a dairy equipment manufacturer until a 2007 layoff, and then was unable to find full-time employment.
Don worked at several part-time jobs, but they could not sustain him. That’s when substance abuse became a problem, and he found himself homeless.
Fortunately, he was never on the streets, thanks to “a transitional housing program called Housing 4 Our Vets, located south of Janesville, Wisc.,” operated by the nonprofit Rock Valley Community Programs, according to a Feb. 16, 2014 article in the Janesville GazetteXtra. That allowed him to focus on getting back on his feet, Don told the GazetteXtra.
Another stroke of luck was that Blackhawk Technical College was within walking distance of Housing 4 Our Vets, which made it convenient for Don to enroll in the year-long Industrial Mechanic program. He started in January 2013 and graduated in December. Don found that the program allowed him to brush up on some skills he already had and pick up some new ones. “I was in the right place at the right time,” he explained.
The icing on the cake for Don was that he had a new job lined up before he graduated from Blackhawk. It was for a maintenance position with Snak King, located in Freeport, Ill., which allowed him to move back to the area where he had grown up. After six weeks as a temporary employee at the beginning of this year, Don was hired by the company for a full-time position.
Don credits the Blackhawk College program with helping him feel more confident and marketable about getting back into the industrial trades. He also noted that within a few weeks on his new job, he used some of the new skills he had learned at Blackhawk.
He’s excited about his field and says, “The nice thing about maintenance is no matter what the industry, everyone needs something fixed,” Don explained. “It is not economy driven. As one industry fades away, another one ramps up. I like the challenge and variety [of maintenance work].” Don sees several ways in which his career could develop. He is interested in keeping up with new technology and helping to mentor younger people. Down the road, that could lead him to management or teaching.
#AdvanceWisconsin #TAACCCT #BTC #IndustrialMaintenance #JobUp #Manufacturing
Madison Area Technical College is holding an information session at 1:30 on Monday, July 14th at the Workforce Development Center in Jefferson County. It is a great opportunity for individuals to learn more about Madison’s Essentials in Manufacturing Credential – the training, available jobs, schedule and application process. The Manufacturing Essentials and Fabricator – Level 1 credentials are being offered tuition free!
Wisconsin employers have a need for skilled workers and Madison College is one of Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges working hard to train individuals and get them into the workforce as quickly as possible. This is initiative is part of a Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant that Wisconsin was awarded in 2012.Jefferson County Information Session»
Live in Dane County? Madison College also offers Information Sessions every Monday at the Job Center from 8:30 – 10:30.