Federal Grant Boosts CVTC

EC-based tech college takes lead on $5 million investment in industrial mechanics program

Mark Gunderman

Chippewa Valley Technical College Industrial Mechanic instructor Tim Tewalt, center, works with students on troubleshooting automation equipment in the program lab at CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center in 2015. A federal grant announced June 27 will enable CVTC to expand the program.
Chippewa Valley Technical College Industrial Mechanic instructor Tim Tewalt, center, works with students on troubleshooting automation equipment in the program lab at CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center in 2015. A federal grant announced June 27 will enable CVTC to expand the program.

Chippewa Valley Technical College will be taking the lead in a $5 million federal Department of Labor TechHire Partnership Grant to be shared with other technical colleges to prepare young adults for well-paying, high-growth jobs in the advanced manufacturing, information technology, and broadband industries. The $1.7 million local share to be spent over four years will be used to enhance CVTC’s Industrial Mechanic program.

Announcement of the $150 million in grants to 39 recipients across the country was made June 27 by Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. The award to CVTC is $5 million, with that amount to be shared with Southwest Technical College in Fennimore and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake, which partnered with CVTC on the application, along with the state Department of Workforce Development and regional employers and industry representatives.

CVTC BY THE NUMBERS

84 programs available
29 certificates available
94% share of CVTC grads employed six months after graduation
89% share of those CVTC grads who are employed in Wisconsin

CVTC’s Industrial Mechanic program prepares students to install, maintain, operate, diagnose, and repair automated equipment used in manufacturing industries. CVTC will expand the program’s capacity and provide support services to students, with those in the 17-29 age range with barriers to training and employment being the target group. Workforce Resource Inc. will work to identify, recruit, and assess participants and provide career readiness training before students enter the CVTC program.

With its share of the grant, CVTC also will incorporate a multi-disciplinary simulated manufacturing center for hands-on application in manufacturing programs, providing students the opportunity to practice industrial mechanics in a comprehensive production setting where real products are created.

“By expanding the Industrial Mechanic program, CVTC advances two parts of its mission – to meet the workforce needs of the region and to improve the lives of students,” said CVTC Dean of Manufacturing Jeff Sullivan. “Many good-paying jobs are available in the field and an expanded program increases opportunities for those seeking to better their lives while at the same time filling a need in business and industry.”

Students can begin classes in the Industrial Mechanic program in eight-week intervals throughout the year. Evening and daytime classes are available, with class schedules set to accommodate people who are working while going to school. Program director Tim Tewalt said scheduling will be an important consideration as the program expands.

“We are thinking about when people are working,” Tewalt said. “We want to give them a lot of flexibility.”

Among the employers in need of people trained in this field are 3M, Rockwell Automation, National Presto Industries, Mayville Engineering, Cummins Filtration, OEM Fabricators, and Advanced Laser Machining.

In addition to getting $1.7 million from the grant for its program work, CVTC will receive $1.3 million on behalf of the consortium for administration, support, and identification and recruitment of students. SWTC will receive $1.2 million, while WITC’s share is $735,000.

Mark Gunderman is a communication specialist at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire.

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