Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New CVTC Mechanical Design Program Approved

Two apprenticeship programs also given nod by state WTCS board

Article Photo - New CVTC Mechanical Design Program Approved

Students at CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center work with a computer-assisted design (CAD) program. Beginning in August 2017, CVTC will be offering a Mechanical Design associate degree program in which students will use CAD to design mechanical parts. The program will be offered at both Eau Claire and River Falls campuses.

Mechanical Design will be making a comeback at Chippewa Valley Technical College in August 2017 at both the Eau Claire and River Falls campuses after approval for the program came from the Wisconsin Technical College System Board at its Jan. 24 meeting. The board also approved Mold Making Apprentice and Maintenance Mechanic/Millwright Apprentice.

“About 18 months ago, local companies approached us about bringing back Mechanical Design,” said Jeff Sullivan, CVTC dean of manufacturing. “They had been hiring people from outside the area or hiring people from other programs and trying to develop them in the job.”

With components of CVTC’s Machine Tooling Technics and Manufacturing Engineering Technology programs, Mechanical Design focuses on the design of parts used in production in a mechanical setting, Sullivan said. Students will learn computer-assisted design (CAD) and programs widely used in industry like SolidWorks. Available jobs include mechanical drafting and commercial or industrial designer.

“Jobs data shows salaries would be around $24 an hour,” Sullivan said.

Among the companies expressing interest in graduates from the program are Curt Manufacturing, LPI Lift Systems (a Plank Enterprises company), and J&D Manufacturing in Eau Claire and Altoona; Nordson EDI and W.S. Darley in Chippewa Falls; Global Finishing Solutions in Osseo; and ConAgra Foods in Menomonie.

The two-year associate degree program consists of 60 credits. A previous program at CVTC’s Eau Claire campus was discontinued around the early 2000s.

The two apprenticeship programs provide opportunities for employers to send workers to CVTC for additional training, continuing to work for the company while earning journeyman status in their fields. Enrollment in apprenticeship programs takes place through the employers. Apprenticeship programs require set hours of instruction and on-the-job training.

“Mold Maker Apprentice is an offshoot of our Machine Tool program,” Sullivan said. “We will be one of the first in the state and definitely the first in the region to have the program.”

Employers in machining-related industries were interested in apprenticeships in this program, but had to send their workers across the state to take part in the educational component, according to Rob Ecker, apprenticeship training representative with the Department of Workforce Development.

Similarly, the Maintenance Mechanic/Millwright Apprenticeship program is an offshoot of CVTC’s Industrial Mechanic program. Ecker noted that Grassland Dairy in Greenwood is interested in beginning apprenticeships in the program as early as March.