Career Choice Takes Center Stage at Manufacturing Signing Day

May 19, 2022


MILTON - A group of students from 10 different high schools confirmed their pathway as manufacturing apprentices with seven industry leaders on Thursday at the Stateline Manufacturing Alliance’s first-ever Manufacturing Signing Day.

The event, which was sponsored by JP Cullen and Blackhawk Technical College, featured 13 individuals who were selected for apprenticeships under the “earn and learn” educational model that allows students to work full-time learning a trade while also taking college courses paid for by the employer.

The students honored and their new employers were:


Zea Becker, Craig High School

Dayton Yuhas, Turner High School

Merrill Reed II, Beloit Memorial High School

Kory Hanson, Turner High School

Scot Forge

Michael Tearman, Milton High School

Evan Noble, Parkview High School

Cayden Wittrock, Elkhorn High School

Stoughton Trailers

Jordan Bittrick, Stoughton High School

Elliot Poole, Oregon High School


Brandon Samuel, Fort Atkinson High School

Jones Dairy Farm

Ashden Aarstad, Fort Atkinson High School


Theron Neisius, Clinton High School

Baker Manufacturing

Xander Knezovich, Evansville High School

David Polk, Wisconsin’s new Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards Director, addressed the students, their families, employers and K-12 partners at the event, applauding them for their commitment to manufacturing and the “earn and learn” model. Polk also is a licensed plumber who started his apprenticeship right after high school.

“As our students bridge today, what I want you to understand is that these are the first steps toward your future - a future of yours that is going to move much more swiftly than students of the same age who chose to do something different. You are going to start taking the paths to your careers now and have much more options later,” Polk said.

Guest speaker Dane Brandl, a maintenance group lead at Scot Forge, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for four years, worked in his field for a while but quickly realized that it wasn’t something that he wanted to do. He began an apprenticeship with Scot Forge, an opportunity that led him to his current role.

“It’s an amazing idea to learn and earn. It was really beneficial for me after I had already went to college and started my life. I wasn’t sure how I was going to start over. But apprenticeship gave me a great opportunity to earn and learn and Scot Forge gave me great opportunities after I finished my program,” Brandl said.

Each student was individually recognized at the event and signed a certificate along with their new employer. Others in attendance at the event included Dr. Tracy Pierner, President of Blackhawk, James Otterstein, Rock County’s Economic Development Manager, Sam Rikkers, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation State Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, and Rep. Mark Spreitzer, (D-Beloit).

The Manufacturing Signing Day event is part of the Stateline Manufacturing Alliance’s strategy to match the skills and career interests of students with the growing need for a qualified workforce to drive economic growth in the local economy.

Established in February 2021, the SMA is the result of regional manufacturers, economic/workforce development organizations, and K-12 education providers coming together to address common challenges and opportunities.

SMA members include ADS Tigre, ANGI Energy Systems, Baker Manufacturing, Ball Beverage Packaging, BlueScope Buildings, Campbell’s Snacks/Kettle Foods, Charter Next Generation, DeLong Company, Edgerton Gear, Evonik Corporation, Fairbanks Morse Defense, Freedom Graphic Systems, Frito-Lay, GOEX Corporation, Grammar, Green-Tek/CPT, Hormel Foods Corporation, Husco, IKI Manufacturing, Ingersoll, Jones Dairy Farm, Lyons Magnus, Mid-States Concrete, Morgan Corporation, Nestle Purina, NorthStar Medical, Radioisotopes, LLC, Novares, Panoramic Inc., Pratt Industries, Prent, Scot Forge, Seneca Foods Corporation, Serta Simmons Bedding, Shine Medical Technologies, Spacesaver, Spray-Tek, SSI Sintered, SSI Technologies, Stainless Tank and Equipment, Stoughton Trailers, The Morse Group, United Alloy, Versa Tool and Die, Western Container Corp. and Westlake.

Learn more about SMA at

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