Manufacturing Matters Now community outreach

Blackhawk Technical College is celebrating the grand opening of its recently completed Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton this fall with a community outreach campaign entitled Manufacturing Matters Now.

Blackhawk will sponsor a variety of educational and celebratory events at the state-of-the-art facility geared to introducing the BTC District to the academic and economic impact of the new home of the school’s Advanced Manufacturing program.

Manufacturing Matters Now reflects Blackhawk’s commitment to the industrial base of its district and the resurgence in its manufacturing strength after weathering the industrial downturn of the prior decade.

“We greatly appreciate the support and guidance we have received from district manufacturers and residents since this process began, and now is the perfect time to display the results of that work,’’ BTC President Dr. Tom Eckert said in announcing the campaign.

“We want to show that this is more than just a Blackhawk facility. The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center’s reach will go far beyond 15 Plumb St. in Milton.’’

It is no mere coincidence that October is National Manufacturing Month, the month when Blackhawk will hold several major events at the AMTC. National Manufacturing Month is held each year to demonstrate just how much the field of manufacturing has progressed. The AMTC symbolizes the change.

“Manufacturing is now the bright, technological workplace of the future, a setting that is epitomized by our new facility,’’ said Elizabeth Horvath, Blackhawk’s Director of Advancement and Community Relations who is the coordinator of the Manufacturing Matters Now campaign.

“We look forward to area manufacturers and district residents joining us at the AMTC in October and throughout the school year to experience the future of manufacturing and manufacturing education.’’

One event of note will be the Manufacturing Matters Now Grand Opening and Gala on Saturday, Oct 10, at 5:30 p.m. This formal grand opening of the AMTC will feature tours, faculty demonstrations, cocktails, dinner, music and a keynote address by Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

It is $200 for an individual ticket to the celebration, $800 for corporate table of eight. All proceeds benefit the fundraising campaign to support the AMTC. For reservations and more information, contact Elizabeth Horvath at ehorvath@blackhawk.edu or (608) 757-7704.

National Manufacturing Day is Friday, Oct. 2, and BTC will recognize it with free bus tours from Monroe and Beloit to the AMTC. BTC thanks Blackhawk Bank for its sponsorship of this event.

The Monroe bus will leave BTC’s Monroe Campus at 8 a.m. and stop at Kuhn North America in Brodhead at 8:20. It is scheduled to return by noon. The Beloit bus leaves at noon and returns by 3:30 p.m. Visitors will be treated to a presentation, tours and either lunch or breakfast.

Those thinking of taking off from Monroe are asked to sign up at tinyurl.com/MfgDayGreenCounty. Those from the greater Beloit area are asked to sign up at tinyurl.com/MfgDayBeloit.

The Admissions Department of Blackhawk Technical College will hold a Manufacturing Showcase on Saturday, Oct. 17, that promises to be more than just a walkthrough of the facility. High school juniors and seniors, their parents, as well as prospective non-traditional age students will be able to participate in hands-on demonstrations in a number of program labs.

Those interested in attending are asked to contact Katie Lange of the BTC Admissions Department at (608) 757-4463.

The Manufacturing Showcase is just one of BTC’s education outreaches through the AMTC. This past summer, the facility was the site of two “boot camps’’ for Welding and Computer Numeric Control. This semester, BTC faculty are assisting technical education instructors at Milton High School with a welding program that can lead to a Wisconsin approved welding certificate in Shield of Metal Arc welding. 

“One of my personal goals will be to create strong relationships with area manufacturers and other employers, and develop new manufacturing and education partnerships that not only promote manufacturing but also assist in recruiting students into the manufacturing pipeline,’’ said Dr. Garry Krause, dean of Blackhawk’s Advanced Manufacturing programs.

It is events like these and more that will be held which offer local manufacturers and businesses the opportunity to demonstrate its support of the AMTC and its goals.

“United Alloy’s partnership with Blackhawk Technical College offers a steady stream of qualified welders to help with our continued business growth,’’ said Stephan Achs, the president and chief revenue officer of United Alloy, Inc., which has been a long-time supporter of the AMTC.

United Alloy, based in Janesville, is a nationally and internationally recognized manufacturers of certified structural steel fuel tanks, heavy duty frames, trailers and related products. It is a sponsor of one of the state-of-the-art classrooms at the AMTC and donated high-tech equipment to the BTC Welding program.

Blackhawk Technical College, through the BTC Foundation, is seeking to raise $2.1 million for the project. A number of financial contribution plans that offer naming rights for the variety of classroom and labs at the Center are available. Scholarship and equipment donation plans also are available.

“Over the years, the Grainger Foundation has sponsored many programs at Blackhawk Technical College but none bigger than this new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, said Bill Koenig, vice president with Grainger.

“This center is just one of the innovative ways the college is helping to develop and support the district workforce and manufacturing industry. The Grainger Foundation is proud to play a role in this initiative.’’

The Grainger Foundation is an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, IL. It was established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc.

Achs, the United Alloy executive, noted that BTC’s mission coincides with his company’s.

“BTC and UAI are in alignment with UAI’s visions and missions, which is to be a valuable resource to the community,’’ Achs said. “Providing quality services like superior education and great employment opportunities encourage people to stay in our community or move to our community.’’ 

For further details regarding contributions, contact Horvath (ehorvath@blackhawk.edu or (608) 757-7704) or check out the Manufacturing Matters Now website at http://manufacturingmattersnow.com/about-us/the-ripple-effect.

Two other events are on the docket. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the AMTC will play host to a reception 5 p.m. for Milton, Edgerton and Evansville business leaders, owners and employees. At a date to be determined, a Forward Janesville gathering will be held. 

The first phase of construction for the $13.7 million project was completed prior to the start of the 2014-15 school year when the AMTC housed Blackhawk’s Welding, Computer Numerical Control and Industrial Mechanic programs.

The second phase was completed in the summer of 2015, allowing the HVAC/Refrigeration, Manufacturing Information Technology. Computer Service Technician and Electro Mechanical Technology to begin classes for the 2015-16 school year.

The physical plant features 40 welding bays; six automated system labs including robotics, servo, hydraulics, PLC and process control; training labs for fabrication, CNC, industrial maintenance, mechanical design and HVAC/R; the manufacturing information technology classroom, which features the only state approved Manufacturing IT program in Wisconsin; the Capstone Lab where students from all disciplines work together on projects; and Capstone Cameras, where students watch projections of lab work through camera technology.

The AMTC’s potential is unlimited, not just for enrolled students but for the district’s economic fortunes. The immediate impact for Milton is the 250 students who attend classes there on a daily basis and the money they spend at local businesses. The long-term impact for the district should also be apparent once the students bring their enhanced skills to the workforce.

“The center will be and is an essential tool in economic development within the area,” Eckert said, “both in terms of existing companies thinking of expanding or companies considering locating in the region. We are proud to play a role in that.”