Tom Vanderloop’s enthusiasm is contagious. His students in manufacturing programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) feel it, and so do the members of the student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), for which he is chapter advisor.
“Tom has an extreme passion for everything he teaches, and for SME,” said Bob Grzegorek, chairman of the student chapter. “He got me more passionate about it to become chairman. We went from four student members to 22. We worked hard to do better.”
“The passion is very real in him,” said Jim Barbey, a May CVTC graduate who served as a student chapter officer. “It’s not just something he says or does; it’s real. That’s really why I joined SME.”
Vanderloop’s passion and service to SME goes back to his first involvement in the 1970s. Now SME is recognizing his contributions, through the Faculty Advisor Professional Development Award, a national honor he is to receive at the SME annual meeting in Baltimore, Md., June 2-4. The award comes with a $500 stipend, which Vanderloop donated to the CVTC Foundation scholarship fund for the betterment of students in manufacturing programs.
Vanderloop, who is in his 38th year in technical education and his 28th at CVTC, looks to his roots for inspiration.
“So much of what I do today came from my Christian father, mother and family. (My) attributes stem from a life within a healthy family environment,” he said.
Vanderloop relates that the word “manufacture” comes from a Latin root meaning “made by hand.”
“It was the story I have always found from within my father’s work ethic. Manufacturing is a good and noble profession as a career for life,” he continued. “My goal is simple: Love what you do and that passion will show up every day. Most students know I love my role as a teacher. It is manufacturing that guides my professional contributions.”
Vanderloop’s contributions to SME can be found throughout his career. He first joined in 1968 as a student at Fox Valley Technical Institute in Appleton. He remained involved as an undergraduate student at UW-Stout in the early ‘70s, and as an assistant professor there in the early ‘80s. Vanderloop became the SME North Central Region chairman, having also served in various offices in the region. With the SME Indianhead Chapter in Eau Claire, he served at various times as chairman, bulletin editor, recruitment and retention committee official, student chapter liaison, faculty advisor, technical programming official and certification official.
In 2010, he was named the SME’s President’s Circle with a gold-level status for having recruited over 125 people to SME.
A measure of a good educator’s success is in the level of achievement by his students, and the list of successful CVTC students Vanderloop has taught in the classroom and led in SME activities is quite long. The founding SME student chapter chairman from 1985, Kevin Gottwalt, is now with Cardiac Pacemakers in St. Paul, Minn. In 1987, Chairman Mark Senti began a chapter focus of encouraging students to seek SME certification as manufacturing technologists through a difficult test. SME recognized the chapter for its efforts when Chris Hurt was chairman in 2000-01. Hurt was a metal fabrication CAD designer with Wisconsin Metal Fab in Chippewa Falls. He has invested his future into a personal entrepreneurial business. Many students begin in "manufacturing" and create innovation with business and economic growth.
Over 200 CVTC students have passed the test since 1985, a remarkable level of success, according to Vanderloop.
Jill King, chairperson in 1997-98 helped organize the first-ever “Challengers and Choices program for junior high school girls, with the goal of introducing young girls to career choices in manufacturing. The effort earned a national award of excellence.
“It’s a good marker not just for myself, but for the college,” Vanderloop said about student success. “If I’ve got good students, they make me look good.”