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3M Grant to Help CVTC Boost Tech Ed at Area Schools

Eau Claire, Altoona, Menomonie, Durand schools to benefit

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Photo of 3M Grant to Help CVTC Boost Tech Ed at Area Schools

Taking part in an official presentation of a grant from 3M to CVTC recently were, from left, Glenn Giesregen, 3M Menomonie plant engineering manager; Sean Mullan, 3M-human capital strategist lead; Jeff Sullivan, CVTC dean of skilled trades and engineering; Aliesha Crowe, executive director of CVTC Foundation, Inc.; Jason Lemay, principal of Altoona High School; and Tom Harris, 3M Menomonie plant manager.

A $133,200 grant to CVTC Foundation, Inc., from 3M will enable Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) to partner with area school districts to build career pathways in manufacturing.

CVTC will partner with Altoona, Durand, Eau Claire Area and Menomonie high schools in the project, called “Building and Sustaining Regional Manufacturing Pathways.” The grant is designed to help develop the skills and knowledge of high school teachers and students in automation and mechatronics – the technology combining electronics and mechanical engineering.

“Great manufacturing jobs in the Chippewa Valley are going unfilled for the lack of workers trained in the technology of modern manufacturing,” said Jeff Sullivan, CVTC dean of manufacturing. “With this generous grant through 3Mgives, we hope to build both skills and interest in manufacturing at the secondary school level to help fill those needs and get our young people started in lucrative careers early.”

With the grant, CVTC will purchase flexible manufacturing learning platforms to be used in the high schools and will offer professional development workshops for teachers so they can make the best use of the equipment. CVTC will partner with automation technology manufacturer Festo for the project. The grant will also help develop career mentor partnerships, internships and career exploration opportunities with area manufacturing businesses.

The development of automation and mechatronics curriculum in the partner school districts may lead to students who develop an interest in the field to enroll in the Automation Engineering Technology program at CVTC. The program prepares students for high-tech careers in maintaining, installing, repairing, fabricating and designing automated equipment.

“3M Plant Engineering and 3Mgives approached us in late February to discuss developing academic partnerships in the region to develop interests of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers,” Sullivan said. “This endeavor is modeled after a 3Mgives-funded pilot project at Alexandria Technical and Community College in Minnesota. This project will facilitate a partnership between 3Mgives and 3M Menomonie, CVTC Foundation, Inc., CVTC, and regional school districts.”

“3M has enjoyed a very collaborative relationship with CVTC”, said 3M Menomonie Plant Manager Tom Harris, “and this grant will address a very real need for current and future employers in the Chippewa Valley. Workforce availability and preparedness is a critical issue, and this grant establishes an extensive training program into our area schools. This program will not only provide the skills needed for students to apply to well-paying jobs, but to also position themselves for future career advancement in high tech manufacturing.”

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.