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Precision Plus Welcomes Two Youth Apprentices and Two Gateway Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Michael Reader

Youth Apprentices

Jordan Belanus, a senior at Elkhorn Area High School in Elkhorn, WI and Jake Sherwin, a senior at Big Foot High School in Walworth, WI, have joined Precision Plus’ Youth Apprentice Program.

Jordan Belanus began working as an Information Technology (IT) youth apprentice at Precision Plus (PPI) on November 9, 2015, reporting to Jeff Lemmermann, the company’s CIO and CFO. The IT apprenticeship adheres to the IT Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development.

Items on the checklist vary from soft skills such as communicating effectively and thinking critically, to job-specific skills such as upgrading an operating system or installing software. The checklist serves as a guideline to help the apprentice obtain designated competencies.

Jordan enjoys working on computers for friends and family, having developed an affinity for programming and networking. As an IT apprentice, he will also be putting those skills to work, performing back up operations, upgrading operating systems and installing software as needed. He will also assist to process employee IT help requests. As his internship progresses, Jordan should be able to perform certain tasks of his own volition, rather than being directed to do so.

In order to receive a certificate for his internship, Jordan must complete 450 total hours of work by August 2016. By state law, however, he cannot exceed 20 hours per week. He learned about PPI’s apprenticeship opportunity through his school’s career and technical education coordinator.

At Elkhorn Area High School, Jordan’s favorite subjects are algebra, physics and geometry. He plans to attend Gateway Technical College in the fall of 2016 and subsequently use its 2-plus-2 articulation agreements with the University of Wisconsin or with Milwaukee School of Engineering to continue his education in computer engineering.

In his spare time, Jordan enjoys playing video games, playing guitar, and practicing Tae Kwon Do, for which he holds a second-degree black belt.

Jake Sherwin began his manufacturing apprenticeship with PPI on November 2, 2015. He reports to Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training.

The manufacturing apprenticeship follows the Skill Standards Checklist established by Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development for that purpose. The first part of the apprenticeship will include a general assessment of Jake’s math skills, micrometer and blueprint reading skills and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) interpretative skills.

After the first phase is completed, Jake will spend time with mentors from different departments to learn skills and applications from them first hand. Jake will be completing the core skills and machining unit of the Production Pathway of the Skill Standards Checklist.   Mentors will sign off on the acquired competencies at the end of their mentoring.

The curriculum at PPI goes hand in hand, with Jake’s curriculum at Big Foot High School. Jake learned about the apprenticeship opportunity at Precision Plus when Mark Beilman spoke to his technical education class in September. Jake knows that he wants to work in the trades—most likely in construction—after his graduation. However, he enjoys the science and agriculture classes he is taking, as well as helping with his family’s farm. In addition, he works part-time at Heyer True Value Hardware Store in Walworth, Wisconsin, so he is keeping his options open. His apprenticeship will also require him to complete 450 hours by August 2016.

When time permits, Jake enjoys hunting and fishing, baseball, and playing bass guitar in a band.

 

Youth CNC Boot Camp Students

Two Gateway students, currently enrolled in Gateway Technical College (GTC)’s Elkhorn Campus Youth CNC Boot Camp have begun their job shadowing experience at Precision Plus, as part of their current semester requirements.

Monday through Friday, Elliot Salentine from East Troy High School and Cameron Bunne from Elkhorn High School attend high school in the morning, followed by classes and training at GTC from 12:30 until 4:30 in the afternoon. As they learn different processes and applications at school, a concurrent shadowing program lends them the opportunity to watch professionals performing those jobs. Each student spends one hour per week at PPI to meet those requirements.

Thus far, the students have shadowed Marty Baumgardner in the Quality Assurance Lab, Ryan Landreman and Brad Pearson on the Miyano platform, and Curtis Hibl in the CAM Department. The shadowing will continue on the Tornos platform, the Secondary Department, the Scheduling Department and, finally, the Shipping Department.

Elliot and Cameron will continue their high school/boot camp schedule until the spring semester begins on February 2, 2016. At that time, they will attend their high school classes in the mornings, but will participate in a mentoring program at Precision Plus in the afternoon, learning and working in different departments. The mentoring phase will end in May 2016. The students will receive high school and boot camp credits for their experience at the company.

Although the Youth CNC Boot Camp mentoring program is similar to the Youth Apprenticeship program already in place, possible modifications may be made based on the students’ incoming skill level.

Cameron and Elliot are members of the first Youth CNC Boot Camp to graduate from GTC’s Elkhorn Campus in Walworth County. The program had already been running successfully at GTC’s other two locations in Racine and Kenosha.

For more information about Precision Plus’ apprenticeship and mentoring programs, please contact Mark Beilman via email or by calling 262-743-1700.

 

The Brad Pearson Story: A Problem Solver Defines the Future of Manufacturing

Michael Reader

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, Brad Pearson attended Blackhawk Technical College’s Gala and Grand Opening of the school’s new “Advanced Manufacturing Training Center” in Milton, Wisconsin. He was there with his parents, Lori and Don Pearson, and Precision Plus’ Administrative Assistant Luann Dall and her husband Dan. Wisconsin’s Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch was the guest of honor at the function.

Brad is a straight A student at Blackhawk Technical College (BTC), where he is also the student representative for the CNC Technician Advisory Committee. In the afternoons, he drives from Milton to Precision Plus (PPI) in Elkhorn, where he works part-time.

On the night of the event, Lt. Governor Kleefisch approached Brad, and said, “I’ve heard about you and your story! Congratulations!”

 

As a youngster, Brad had always had an affinity for making things, building things, and working on things. He did well in school, and there was no question that after graduating from Elkhorn Area High School, he would probably enroll at U.W. Whitewater to pursue a business degree.

But for Brad, February 27, 2013, would prove to be a day filled with opportunities, as on that day, the First Manufacturing Career Panel would take place at Elkhorn Area High School (EAHS), organized by Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus and JoAnne Pella, CTE Coordinator at the school. Brad was one of nearly 180 students who came to the event to hear industry professionals talk about manufacturing and the highly rewarding careers available, especially for the younger generation.

Brad recalls, “I found Mike’s message amazing, and even thought I didn’t have a chance to meet him personally then, I talked with Mrs. Pella about my interest in meeting him. That request eventually resulted in  youth apprenticeship at Precision Plus in the fall.”

Mike Reader recalls,

It must have been the spring of 2013, when Elkhorn High School CTE Coordinator JoAnne Pella sent me three candidates to interview for the Youth Apprenticeship program Precision Plus was about to launch.

Our directive to Mrs. Pella was clear: We were looking for the “best and brightest” of the next generation, including exceptional character and the willingness to commit to about 3 hours of daily time, starting at 6:30 am–which could be a difficult feat, taking into consideration high school schedules that are jam-packed with coursework, and extracurricular activities.  

One of the candidates was a young man who although did not seem too enthusiastic during the initial interview, exuded with it the moment he stepped on the production floor. Yes, a light flickering in the eyes that proved we had now captured his attention.  I replied to Mrs. Pella that while I had some early reservations about Brad, he had shown a lot of interest on the shop floor, and that we wanted to offer Brad the opportunity to work with us during his senior year.

Brad started out the 2013-2015 PPI Youth Apprenticeship with two other students—one also from EAHS, and the other from Lake Geneva High School.  All three worked directly with Barry Butters, then Director of Education and Training, first covering all the basics in the classroom.  This included basic blue print reading, understanding Geometric Dimensioning & Tolerances (GD&T), measurement equipment and techniques, and machine shop vocabulary—no, not the swear words, but the manufacturing lingo. 

Each apprentice received clear instructions on how they would be introduced to all facets of manufacturing, and that while some activities would be extremely rewarding, others might challenge them with boredom through redundancy. 

After completing classroom instruction, the apprentices worked in a variety of support roles, reinforcing what they had learned, while exercising both body and mind through hands-on activities. These included working in the Secondary Department, where parts receive additional processing; the Finishing Department, where parts are washed/polished; and the Quality Assurance Department, where parts are given a second inspection.  Although sometimes tedious and/or boring, these experiences provide our apprentices with a foundation to draw from as they progressively move from basic platforms to much more complex responsibilities.

Once they had demonstrated an eye for detail and earned the confidence of their mentors, the apprentices were introduced to the Tornos Swiss-Screw machine platform, a mechanical machine used in the production of small, very close tolerance turned parts using custom-shaped cams mounted on a camshaft. Working on the machines helped the students understand the interaction between tools and material.  Once confident on this platform, the apprentices moved through different CNC Swiss platforms, and eventually onto the Miyano CNC turret lathe machines, which can cost up to $600,000 when all tooled up.  The students not only ran the machines, but also inspected them with different gauging equipment, made tooling offsets, and inserted changes.

We often refer to our apprenticeship program as “Karate Kid School,” as the apprentices must first learn all that it takes to get perfect product out the door for our customers.  Some tasks may not be exciting, but every task is as important and it must be considered the most important task in the world.   And every experience is a learning opportunity…even if just to learn why it is important to do it right the first time.

Over the course of the fall semester, Brad was learning quickly and embracing what manufacturing had to offer. He was particularly intrigued by the nuances and the challenges of the manufacturing process and the problem-solving skills required to bring the part from drawing to reality. “Just checking on a part’s tolerance,” mentions Brad, “requires problem-solving skills. If it’s off, I need to offset the problem by making the necessary adjustments.”

Brad was excited about manufacturing and regularly shared his excitement at home. However, there was obvious resistance from his parents, who did not believe manufacturing should be part of the options for Brad’s future.

However, at Mike Reader’s request, they agreed to come to the plant to see what Brad was learning as a youth apprentice. Brad’s parents and sister spent one and a half hours touring the plant, talking with Mike and Barry, observing the type of technology Brad was utilizing, and the skills and knowledge required to properly use the equipment. At the end of the tour, Brad’s parents understood what they saw was not “vintage” manufacturing, but 21st century technology, and have since become Brad’s greatest supporters in his decision to pursue a career in manufacturing.

Upon his high school graduation in the spring of 2014, Brad rolled into PPI’s summer internship program, where he continued his journey. “And it’s been a journey ever since,” reiterates Brad, “Precision Plus and manufacturing are very special to me. One day I may even want to have my own manufacturing business!”

As the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year was approaching, Brad had to make a final decision as to his next step. He had three options: he could continue with his on-the-job training while working full time, he could enroll in a technical college to pursue a machining degree, or he could pursue a 4-year degree. “Barry and Mike took me around to different technical schools, but I fell in love with Blackhawk Technical College in Milton and with its state-of-the-art CNC training facilities.” And that was his final choice.

Mike continues,

Between Brad, Barry and myself, we set a plan in place where Brad would take classes during the day and work about 4 hours in the evening to reinforce what he was learning in the classroom.  We also had set up a reimbursement plan whereby we would refund him 100% for As, 50% for Bs and nothing for Cs.  Some would say this is a tall order, but the goal is clear: We want to nurture the “best and brightest.” Average does not cut it these days. 

Brad continued his school/work efforts through both the fall and spring semesters, and then brought his transcripts in for Barry and me to review.  It was with great delight that we saw nothing but straight As in every class, both semesters.  A check was drafted and presented to Brad for his full year tuition expenses.  It was a great day for Precision Plus, Brad and his parents. 

Brad is now in his third of the four-semester program and leading his class in all aspects.  BTC and his instructors have done a great job furthering Brad’s education, while we reinforce and focus his energies on how both must go hand in hand.  He is still considering his options for after graduation.

Brad is thoroughly enjoying his experience at Blackhawk Technical College, including being the liaison between his fellow students and the CNC Technician Advisory Committee, serving as a communication bridge between the two groups.

At Precision Plus, he currently operates a Miyano lathe and loves the process involved in solving problems. He thanks his mentors, Ryan Landreman, Sam Kirkland, Victor Moreno and Curt Hibl.

Whenever he can, Brad also shares his message with others as he promotes manufacturing as a career, and a not job.  As a matter of fact, a year after he first heard Mike at EAHS, Brad talked about his manufacturing experience to 200 attendees at the Second Annual Manufacturing Career Panel. He has also talked to students at Delavan High School, has been to the Capitol, was interviewed by the Lake Geneva News, and by the office of Secretary Reggie Newson of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, just to name a few.

As far as the future is concerned, Brad will continue to look at all opportunities, but hone in on his own hope to make a difference and change the world. After all, he is a problem solver.

At Precision Plus, we are grateful for that snowy day in February of 2013, not only for Brad, but also for everyone who has shared in his enthusiasm for the industry ever since.

It is clear why so many people, including Lt. Governor Kleefisch, already know Brad Pearson, his story and his love for and commitment to manufacturing. And there is no question that given the opportunity to change the world, he will.

 

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Welcomes 2015 Summer Interns

Michael Reader

Precision Plus welcomes its 2015 interns, a group of outstanding young inviduals. During their internship, they rotate responsibilities through different departments and platforms, as well as learn about the operation from different angles, to maximize their exposure to the business.

The internship concludes in the fall, when the students begin a new academic year. Pursuing an array of degrees, the interns share one common core goal: To learn, hands-on, how and why things work, while contributing to the company with a thirst for knowledge, dedication, and tenacity.  Scroll to see them in action and read their bios.

From left to right: Kyle Gorst, Amanda Mudlaff, Jake Ruemmele, Matt Dowel, Sergey Klyukvin, Caitlyn Sanders, Troy Steinfest, Brad Killen, Jessica Flock, Carson Filko, Brad Pearson, Britt Campbell, Bob Dall, Alden Filko, Ryan Reader . Not pictured: Tristan Steiner.

PRECISION PLUS 2015 SUMMER INTERNS IN ACTION

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PRECISION PLUS 2015 SUMMER INTERN BIOS

Britt Campbell is a graduate of Badger High School and is currently enrolled at Milwaukee School of Engineering as a sophomore, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Britt is an avid car racer and belongs to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Formula Hybrid. She has been racing for a number of years. Britt feels her internship has given her a more realistic perspective on actual career goals and has given her the opportunity to explore different options to seek after graduating from college. Her favorite platform at Precision Plus is the Quality Lab.

Bob Dall will begin his third year at University of Wisconsin, Madison this fall, pursuing a degree in industrial engineering. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where he was also involved in wrestling, golf and cross-country. In college, he belongs to the Institute for Industrial Engineers, and he is a member of the EUClue Club. He continues to play golf recreationally and enjoys boating as well. Bob felt that working in a manufacturing plant would help him gain real life experience he could apply in his industrial engineering studies and career. During his internship, he particularly enjoys working with the Tornos CAM machines.

Matt Dowell will be a freshman at University of Wisconsin, Platteville, seeking a degree in mechanical engineering. He is a graduate of Wilmot Union High School, where he was very involved with the Key Club and the SkillsUSA Program. He has always been interested in learning how things are made. Understandably, his favorite pastime is woodworking. That interest was what drove him to apply for the internship with Precision Plus, where the Tsugami platform is his favorite. Matt feels the internship is giving him a better understanding of how everything works together.

Alden Filko will begin his senior year at Richmond-Burton Community High School in the fall. Although he still has some time to make a decision about his college studies, he is leaning towards Milwaukee School of Engineering to pursue a degree in biomolecular engineering. Currently, he is in the school’s math team and the marching band. His favorite platform at Precision Plus is the Miyano, and what he enjoys most is understanding the process, which confirms that engineering is what he wants to do. In his time off, Alden enjoys hunting, fishing and riding ATVs.

Carson Filko will begin his second year at Milwaukee School of Engineering in the fall, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. He is a graduate of Richmond-Burton Community High School, and was a member of the math team and marching band. Carson has always enjoyed “fixing things” and home projects. Working at Precision Plus has given him the opportunity to observe a smaller company in action, as well as be able to assess the possible careers available within manufacturing requiring his projected degree. In addition, Carson believes the company has given him a great foundation for his future career. The Miyano platform is his favorite.

Jessica Flock will be entering Milwaukee School of Engineering in the fall as a freshman, pursuing a degree in computer engineering. She is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where her extracurricular activities included band, musicals, robotics, E-TEC, NHS, and pep band. Jessica enjoys every aspect of music and IT. She thanks Precision Plus for giving her  the opportunity that allows her to be exposed to a larger IT network and its operation. She enjoys learning how the individual machines interact, how they  are managed, and what happens when there are problems and solutions are needed to keep up with production. Jessica feels the internship will give her an advantage not only in college, but also in her future career.

Kyle Gorst will begin his first year at Gateway Technical College this fall, looking to become certified as a CNC production technician. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School where he was a member of both the swim and golf teams. Kyle has always been fascinated by manufacturing, and knew that he wanted to pursue a high-tech career in the industry, so he sought both an apprenticeship and an internship with Precision Plus, where he likes working on the Miyano platform. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys hunting, fishing, football, and college basketball.

Brad Killen will be a junior at University of Wisconsin, Madison in the fall, where he is seeking a degree in computer engineering. He graduated from Elkhorn Area High School where he was also a member of the basketball and golf teams. Working at Precision Plus has given him a broad exposure to the engineering field and has reaffirmed his interest in engineering. Brad enjoys giving back to the community by working with the City of Madison Youth Basketball Camps.

Sergey Klyukvin is currently enrolled at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he will begin his sophomore year in civil engineering studies in the fall. Sergey is a graduate of Williams Bay High School, where he was involved in intramural basketball. In addition to basketball, he enjoys water sports and spending time at the lake. His goal at Precision Plus is to get shop experience, and he thoroughly enjoys working in the Quality Assurance Department.

Amanda Mudlaff will be a freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering in the fall, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. She is a graduate of East Troy High School, where she kept a very busy schedule tending to her extracurricular activities–cheer-leading, dance, track and field, FFA and NHS–while being an apprentice at Precision Plus and keeping up with her regular studies. Amanda wanted to work with Precision Plus because of her interest in the engineering field and the jumpstart it would give her in her career. Her favorite activity is to set-up a Tsugami 5-axis machine. In her leisure time, Amanda enjoys boating, tubing, wake boarding, wake surfing and swimming.

Brad Pearson is a second year student at Blackhawk Technical College, pursuing a degree as a CNC manufacturing/machining technician. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where he also played sports. Brad always had an affinity to engineering and “making things.” His exposure to an internship at Precision Plus helped him to clarify his career intentions. His favorite platforms at Precision Plus are the Miyano and the Tsugami. In his spare time, Brad enjoys hunting, fishing, and sports, especially baseball.

Jake Ruemmele will begin his senior year at University of Wisconsin, Platteville in the fall, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where he was involved with the swim club. He is also an active member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Last year, during his internship, Jake enjoyed working on the Miyano platform, but his year, he appreciates the opportunity given to him to learn the quoting process. He feels that working at Precision Plus has allowed him to experience “real world” applications of mechanical engineering in a business/industry-oriented environment, something he thoroughly values. Also, it has made him more aware of the crucial role of mechanical engineers in the manufacturing industry. In his free time, Jake enjoys swimming, disc golf, and video games.

Ryan Reader will be a freshman at McHenry County Community College in the fall, from where he is seeking to receive an associate in arts degree. He is a graduate of Richmond-Burton Community High School. At Precision Plus, Ryan finds working on the Miyano platform most interesting, and looks forward to applying principles and processes to his future endeavors. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys video gaming.

Tristan Steiner will be attending University of Wisconsin, Madison, as a freshman in the fall. He is seeking a degree in electrical engineering. Tristan is a graduate of Badger High School, where he was involved with intramural sports and several student organizations. Tristan applied for an internship at Precision Plus because he wanted to gain work experience and learn more about the manufacturing process. Working at the company has helped him to decide on which discipline of engineering he wants to pursue in college.  At Precision Plus, he most enjoys working in the Quality Assurance Department. During his time off he loves playing sports.

Troy Steinfest will attend University of Wisconsin, Platteville as a freshman in the fall, where he will be pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where his extracurricular activities included involvement with student organizations and golf. Golf continues to be one of his favorite pastimes, as well as fishing, hiking and hunting. Working at Precision Plus has given him an opportunity to have experience in the manufacturing industry–something he feels will help him with his career. At the company, he particularly enjoyed all aspects of material handling.

 

Straight from the Source: Students at Elkhorn Area High School Recount Their Experience at the Second Annual Manufacturing Career Panel on February 26, 2014

Michael Reader

Elkhorn Area High School posted the following post on Facebook on March 13, 2014 about the Second Annual Manufacturing Career Panel:

On Wednesday, February 26, approximately 200 students from five different schools settled into their seats at the Elkhorn Area High School auditorium to listen to four experts and one of their own peers address the career opportunities in the manufacturing industry. Our schools feel very fortunate to have had Brian White, President of Waukesha Engine; Hanan Fishman, President of PartMaker, Inc, (a software development company); Mary Isbister, President of GenMet, Mequon (metal fabricator); Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus; and senior, Brad Pearson, (manufacturing apprentice) share their insights on opportunities the world of manufacturing offers.

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Each of the four speakers described their backgrounds, their journey to where they are today, various manufacturing processes, the skills and talent necessary to be successful in manufacturing, and the fast pace in which the manufacturing workplace is changing. They discussed with students the “skills gap”, which is the problem that many manufacturers are facing today in regard to maintaining a high-quality, high-skilled workforce. According to all four speakers, there is a huge deficit in the number of young people applying for jobs in manufacturing. Currently, the industry is looking for people skilled in Design Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Machinists, Welders, CNC Programmers, Fabricators, and Machine Maintenance. White mentioned that top machinists can earn up to $80,000 per year and that every manufacturing job generates four other jobs in other sectors such as health, IT, finance, etc. Both White and Reader stressed to students to make certain they are preparing for a career, not just for college; to make sure that their advanced education can help them secure a job, and to prepare themselves for life-long learning. They cited the fact that 70% of manufacturing jobs will require education beyond the high school diploma. Fishman backed up this fact by stating that what goes on in manufacturing today has a lot more to do with what goes on above the neck than below. Isbister reminded students that when hiring she looks for highly driven and ambitious job candidates; those who are committed to their jobs. She, along with the Reader, White, and Fishman stressed the importance of soft skills—reliability, communication skills, collaboration, self-motivation, positive attitude, and a willingness to learn.

Senior apprentice, Brad Pearson, spoke of his experience at Precision Plus and his appreciation for the opportunities he has been given by his mentor to learn all aspects of precision-turned component manufacturing (Facebook, 2014).