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Manufacturing Show Displays Opportunities, Marvels

In the Electromechanical Technology area at CVTC’s Manufacturing Show March 7, Rob Beebe of Eau Claire and Zach Wold of Stanley were playing with a pair of race cars on an oval track. They built the track themselves from scratch, following an assignment to make a racetrack in which one car was automated and the other controlled by a human player.

When the automated car passed a sensor, it would slow down or speed up, depending on the programming.

“We have the car slow down to eight volts on the curves, and on the straightaways we’re up to 15 volts,” said Bebee. “The idea is to see if the human reaction can beat the automated car.”

Building and repairing automated equipment is in high demand in manufacturing today. Wald already has a job with a local manufacturer, but he’s not sure he’ll stick with them, as there will be many other opportunities. Bebee has his sights on the aircraft industry in Seattle, Wash.

Opportunities in Electromechanical Technology was just one of the many display areas ay at the show, which drew thousands of people in just its second year. Throughout the Manufacturing Education Center, people checked out the latest in fields like welding, machine tooling, industrial mechanics, nanotechnology, and many others. Some came to the show looking for a new or first career, others came just to marvel at where technology has taken modern manufacturing.

Watching the race cars were Wade Leibfried of Colfax, and his son, Nate, a high school sophomore.

“Nate’s trying to figure out what he’s interested in when he gets out of high school,” said Leibfried. “We’ve been talking to him about it, and I figured this show would give him some ideas as far as technology goes.”

In the Nano Engineering Technology area, a group of students from Lincoln High School in Alma Center were fascinated by a demonstration by Blake Westlund, a CVTC student from Eau Claire. He showed the students how to drop a metal ball through a copper tube and have the ball seem to defy gravity by falling slowly through the tube, never touching the sides. He explained the phenomenon was due to electromagnetic forces.

“I’m really interested in this kind of stuff – the art of technology,” said Vernica Danielson, one of the Lincoln students.

Eight teams of high school students displayed welding sculptures as part of the Junkyard Battle competition. The teams created sculptures of their school mascots out of junk metal. A team from Lincoln High School in Alma Center took first place, with Chippewa Falls second and Augusta third.

While the students were displaying their creation at the Manufacturing Show, they had opportunities to check out displays and demonstrations about welding and other careers in manufacturing. Over 20 vendors from private businesses set up displays, often with the idea of recruiting students. There is a shortage of welders in this area.

“We are always looking for good help,” said Brian Albers, welding manager at Curt Manufacturing, the trailer hitch manufacturer in Altoona. The company often hires CVTC welding students as they finish their programs. “We bring students in and give them on-the-job training. We work around their school schedules, and as long as they don’t miss school and graduate, we offer them a full-time job.”

It wasn’t just high school students who learned about career options. Ed Veness, 52, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Army, plans on enrolling in CVTC next fall, but doesn’t know in what program yet.

“I like the Industrial Mechanical field because it has so many different things you can learn,” he said.

Displays at the Manufacturing Show demonstrated that today’s manufacturing includes both variety and high technology.