David Hataj Named BTC 2018 Distinguished Alumni

November 30, 2018

The Blackhawk Technical College District Board is delighted to honor David Hataj with the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award. Hataj is a graduate of the Machinist Apprenticeship program and current president and co-owner of Edgerton Gear, Inc. Hataj is an outstanding advocate for technical education. He has offered scholarships to high school students and has invested significant time, energy and resources into a variety of initiatives tied to the expansion of technical education.

Each year, BTC recognizes one alumnus who has demonstrated the value of a technical college education through career advancement, community service, continued personal and professional growth and support of the technical college system.David Hataj holding a gear

“Dave is a true testament to life-long learning,” said BTC President Dr. Tracy Pierner. While a student at BTC, Hataj devoted time outside the classroom learning his trade at Edgerton Gear under his father. He went on to receive his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine; Master’s Degree in Theology and Family Business Systems from Regent College in Vancouver, B.C., Canada; and finally, a Doctor of Transformational Leadership Degree from Bakke Graduate University, Dallas, Texas, where he currently serves on the Board.

Hataj has served the past 25 years in his family business, Edgerton Gear. The company has been in his family for over 50 years. Under his leadership, Edgerton Gear is dedicated to combining historical craftsmanship with the world’s newest technology, manufacturing the highest quality components.

In 2014, he was recognized by Edgerton School District with the Golden Apple Award for his key contributions to the District and for his commitment and vision to the value of technical education. He is active in the Youth Apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship Programs and serves on BTC’s CNC Advisory Committee. Additionally, Edgerton Gear hosts high school students each year for Manufacturing Day.

His commitment to developing the talent pipeline in the skilled trades is evident through his creation of Craftsman with Character, a program he developed to address young people not entering skilled trades fast enough to replace an aging workforce. The uniquely created, 16-week customized curriculum, which is anchored by a Craftsman’s Code (, blends traditional classroom instruction, worksite mentorship, and exposure to programs at Blackhawk Technical College, into a single experiential learning model. Hataj credits his staff at Edgerton Gear, as well as Joe Mink and the Edgerton School District, for the success of the course. According to Hataj, “Without their dedication and enthusiasm to mentor youth, none of this would be possible.”

David Hataj and Dr. Tracy PiernerThanks to Hataj’s vision, the Craftsman with Character course has been transformed into a dual credit offering now being offered at school districts within BTC’s District. Hataj has been a guest speaker around Wisconsin, speaking to employers and educational institutions on the value, success, and need for the Craftsman with Character program as we look ahead to the future and the skilled labor shortage.

Hataj and his wife have a strong commitment to the community at home and abroad. Together, they have served extensively in Honduras, focusing on community transformation through the education and mentoring of young people. Additionally, they offer paid leave for employees who volunteer their time to charitable causes. Through Edgerton Gear, they support numerous community service organizations such as: Edgerton Teen Center, Pregnancy Helpline, Wisconsin Lion’s Camp, Edgerton Community Outreach, Wisconsin Badger Camp, and Pure Water for the World.

Dr. Pierner adds, “Hataj embodies the spirit of the Wisconsin Technical College System and is a living testimony to the quality of a Blackhawk Technical College education.”

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