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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.

 

How to Keep Students Awake in Class – Precision Plus in the News

Michael Reader

This is a reprint of an article authored by Susan Pohorski, which first appeared on Wisconsin Technical College System’s website.

How to keep students awake in class

By Susan Pohorski

It’s an age-old problem that has challenged teachers forever. How do you keep students awake and engaged in a classroom setting?

Several Elkhorn High School students took on this problem as the capstone project for their Engineering Design Development class. The students conducted research, designed prototype products and tested the products until they felt they had a viable answer.Their product is a pen that vibrates when the user has been inactive for a certain time period. Nod off and your pen will wake you.

A new way of teaching and learning
Hundreds of Wisconsin high schools and middle schools from Appleton to Winneconne are using an activity, project, and problem-based curriculum developed by Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to help students develop skills they need for success in post-secondary education and beyond.  As a result, students rarely fall a sleep during class.

Since 2009, Elkhorn Area School District (EASD) has implemented PLTW curriculum throughout all levels to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Courses cover biomedical science, computer science and engineering concepts. EASD is one of only two districts in the country where every student has access to PLTW curriculum.

“PLTW courses are very engaging and reach students with different learning styles,” commented Jason Tadlock, superintendent of the EASD. “Kids see the relevance of math and science in real life.”

Second grade students engineer a device for planting seeds. Fourth graders create vehicles and put them through crash testing. In fifth grade, the students learn to build and operate robots.

“We hear consistent feedback from employers who look for PLTW students because of their academic and teamwork skills,” Tadlock added.

Business partners with schools
The district also has a unique partnership with a major employer in the area. In 2012 Precision Plus invited 24 area educators to tour their facilities to discuss the career possibilities available for high school graduates. The school district also hosts an annual Manufacturing Career Panel discussion for students sponsored by Precision Plus Representatives of Elkhorn area employers discuss the state of industry and the possibilities manufacturing offers. This year Mike Reader, president of Precision Plus, moderated the discussion.

Students who toured local manufacturing facilities asked if they could have internships with the companies.

“We had 10 student interns the first year,” said Barry Butters, director of education and training for Precision Plus, who was hired to coordinate and grow the program. He teaches some of the PLTW engineering courses, including the one mentioned above.

“Mike Reader is a true visionary,” Butters explained. “He saw the need to develop a talent pipeline and engage the schools.”

With the partnership of Precision Plus and a grant from the Kern Foundation, teachers from the Elkhorn Area School District attended PLTW training.

Work skills, life skills
“Project Lead the Way makes better thinkers and problem solvers,” Butters adds. “When young students understand they can make things and solve problems, they will go far in life.”Chris Trottier, principal of Elkhorn High School enthusiastically supports the new style of learning for his students.“Kids develop skills to enter the workforce,” he said. “Like problem solving and critical thinking.”Tadlock points out that students in these classes learn to take risks and learn from their mistakes. “Kids come out ahead when they can overcome trials. That skill carries over into the world of work,” he continued.Does your school use project-, activity- and problem-based curriculum? Employers want job candidates who are thinkers and problem solvers.“Challenge businesses to get involved,” Butters urged parents. “Schools cannot do it alone with the fiscal constraints they are under.”

Read the original article HERE.

Third Annual Manufacturing Career Panel at Elkhorn Area High School on February 18, 2015, Draws a Large Crowd of Students

Michael Reader

For the third year in a row, Precision Plus in partnership with Elkhorn Area High School, presented a Manufacturing Career Panel to more than a hundred high school students from several area schools.

The event, which took place on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at Elkhorn Area High School was organized to explain to students what 21st century advanced manufacturing is and how it has changed over the last decades, to dispel old manufacturing myths, to talk about manufacturing career opportunities, and exciting educational opportunities available for students in the area.

The program was moderated by Mike Reader, President and Owner of Precision Plus, and by Barry Butters, the company’s Director of Education and Training. A shout-out was given to JoAnne Pella, Career Advisor of Elkhorn Area High School, for her contribution and dedication to make the panels possible.

The panelists were distinguished industry leaders Dennis Giesler, General Manager of Parker-Hannifin Quick Coupling Division, Dawn Tabat, COO of Generac, Geoff Martin, Principal and Senior Leader of GE Healthcare Partners, and Rick Lofy, Lean Six Sigma Instructor at Gateway Technical College. Click here to see their expanded bios.

All four panelists drew from their own experiences in manufacturing, sharing the broad spectrum of opportunities that exist within the industry at all levels. They all spoke about the next generation of advanced manufacturing professionals, and how they are looking at that generation, which included the students present, to carry the future. All speakers agreed that we live in an exciting time, when things are changing faster today than in the history of the world. And that these fast, dynamic, changing times require problem-solving, creative-thinking individuals who can move with the changes and have the ability to rapidly adapt and progress through collaboration and continuous improvement. Success now and in the future, they concluded, will be driven by the purpose, culture and passion of those individuals and companies who are committed to make a difference.

Feeding the Employee Pipeline: WCEDA Panel Discussion on Efforts to Create a Viable Workforce for the Future

Michael Reader

A panel discussion entitled “Feeding the Employee Pipeline,” was organized and presented by the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at the Geneva National Golf Club.

The purpose of this panel presentation was to bring together educators and industry leaders to better understand the present shortage of a skilled workforce and its future implication, to learn about the solutions and initiatives currently in place that address that shortage, and find out how collaborative efforts are essential for creating a viable workforce. Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, was invited to be a panelist.

Derek D’Auria , Executive Director of WCEDA, moderated the discussion. In his introduction, D’Auria referred to data collected for a Harvard University study, which indicate that 33% of jobs in the future (as early as 2018) will require a 4-year degree, 57% will require a technical skill, and 10% of jobs will be able to be filled with unskilled employees. He also pointed out that currently in Wisconsin, 65% of all high school graduates set off go to a 4-year college after high school graduation, but that only 25% earn a bachelor ‘s degree, leaving the rest typically with a lot of debt, and resorting to part-time jobs.

First to address the audience was Karen Burns, Manager of the Walworth County Job Center. Burns summarized all the programs that are available at this agency—from learning interviewing soft skills, to working on resumes, to lining up candidates with programs, to working in conjunction with Gateway Technical College and employers.

The second speaker was Dennis Winters, Chief Economist, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Winters presented several slides showing a growing disparity between jobs and the workforce, and the implications, should the situation remain status quo. He contrasted the job seeker position from 50 or 60 years ago, with the one from today, by saying “You can’t expect now to finish high school and run a machine: understand technology, run it, and don’t break it!”

Winters also spoke about the “Wisconsin Fast Forward” program, a blueprint for prosperity, based on employer-need base training. He emphasized the importance of postsecondary training and continuous improvement, and concluded with the following statement: “Education and training must be part of your lifestyle for the rest of your life.”

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus., was the first panelist to speak. He pointed out that a manufacturing company can expand their brick and mortar and get new equipment, but without people to run it, the expansion is senseless. Given this situation, Mike Reader, President and Owner of the company, hired Butters to build an awareness campaign to make this happen. As an example, Precision Plus has established internship and youth apprenticeship programs, actively participates in several career and technical education (CTE) committees at the high school and college level, and has sponsored industry field trips for students. Butters also teaches an engineering design and development (EDD) course through Elkhorn Area High School and regularly engages with other companies to encourage their involvement.

The next panelist was JoAnne Pella, Career Advisor of Elkhorn Area High School (EAHS). Pella outlined the programs that are in place at the school, such as co-ops, career panels, that will guarantee that all students be exposed to academic career pathway guidance. By mandate, all students will have to have gone through career guidance. She pointed out, however, these initiatives have been long in place at EAHS, and each added option only enhances their existing program. Pella also talked about a career advisor consortium, held at Gateway Technical College, where advisors from several high schools in the area meet once a month to review their programs and exchange ideas.

Debbie Davidson, Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development at Gateway Technical College, talked about the initiatives in place at the school that address the needs of employers in the area. She particularly talked about their CNC Boot Camp program, which has been offered to adults for several years, but to entering high school seniors just for the last three years, with great success. Students go to school during the summer for six weeks. Then, during the fall semester, they attend school in the morning and Gateway in the afternoon. In the spring, they split their day by attending school and participating in a paid internship at a local manufacturing facility. At the end of the program, students not only have a high school diploma, but also a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, a Manufacturing Skills Standard Council (MSSC) Safety Certification, 15 Gateway school credits, and six months work experience to put on their resume.

Davidson mentioned that through a collaborative effort, which included Precision Plus, the CNC Boot Camp will be offered at the school’s Elkhorn Campus as of July of 2015.

Kevin Paluch, Vice President of the Geneva National Golf Resort, addressed the shortage of properly trained hospitality/culinary arts employees. Due to the nature and the location of the business, the company generally hires a short-term workforce that may not be best prepared to provide a superior experience for their clients. He also alluded to an earnings threshold that will determine whether the younger generation (less than 25 years of age) chooses to work or stay at home. The incentive to go beyond that threshold depends on their qualifications and ability to perform hospitality and culinary jobs properly. Paluch reiterated the need for schools to expand on this type of training.

Rich Gruber, Vice President of Mercy Health System spoke about what his group has done to address the skills shortage. In an entity that employs about 6,500 people, there are regularly 1,500 jobs to open, and these include a range of occupations, from health care to plumbing to food service. Proactively, the organization has established several programs within the system, such as a residency program for primary care physicians, and certified nurse assistant (CNA) program that works with local high schools and colleges. This year alone, Mercy Health System will have graduated over 900 CNAs.

Gruber also spoke about options for junior high and high school students: “The earlier they are exposed to career choices, the better,” he suggested. Schools must be able to provide tools to explore different careers as early as 6th or 7th grade. “Capturing inquisitive minds is essential,” he added. Gruber made clear, however, this could not happen without collaboration and constant conversation with schools at all levels, as well as with fellow health systems, and observed solutions need to be fueled by creativity and outside-the-box thinking by all the partners involved.

Bob Kopykdlowsi , Principal of Badger High School, then addressed the perception issue experienced by many parents and the community at large. He stated that convincing parents that a 4-year degree may not be the only career path available for their students, presented a hurdle, and he suggested that typically the community does not recognize alternate career paths as viable. His school offers many options for children to explore career opportunities.

Tristan Steiner, a senior at Badger High School, spoke about his experience from a student-perspective. Tristan has always been interested in math and science, but did not know how to apply his interest to a career choice he would not regret later. Beginning in his sophomore year, Tristan was able to get a taste of different careers options by taking targeted classes, which eventually led him to realize that he would like to become an electrical engineer with a focus in renewable energy sources. Tristan also had the opportunity be an intern at Precision Plus, where he was able to experience a number of aspects of the business. Being able to study the design of parts and programs for machines, confirmed the choice he made was valid.

The program then opened up to questions and comments that explored topics such as externships–or teachers going into the field to experience the environment, the importance of schools having advisory committees to drive their curricula, the advantages of going to a 2-year college before joining a 4-year institution, and changing the mindset of the community.


A video of the entire presentation is available below:

Precision Plus Delves into Remote Problem Solving and Instruction

Michael Reader

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, teamed with Elkhorn Area High School’s Project Lead The Way (PLTW ) teacher Fred Ganter to give his Introduction to Engineering and Design (IED) students a chance to reverse engineer some obsolete components.

The premise of the project was that if an older machine had a component fail and a replacement component was no longer available, then a component replacement would have to be machined. To machine the component a print would be needed.

The students were broken into groups and assigned components to first sketch and then measure. The students then used Autodesk CAD Inventor software to model the components and finally develop a working print of the part.

Throughout the project, however, teams had a chance to interact and be coached remotely by Barry Butters, who is a certified PLTW Engineering Design and Development (EDD) instructor. He regularly logged in, in real time, into the system in order to view and discuss the progress of the projects with each individual team.

2015 Manufacturing Career Panel To Be Held on February 18 at Elkhorn Area High School

Michael Reader

The third annual Manufacturing Career Panel will be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at Elkhorn Area High School. In partnership with Elkhorn Area H.S., Precision Plus will lead a panel of manufacturing experts who will talk to an audience of over 200 students from area high schools about bright and challenging manufacturing career possibilities. The event will take place from 1:00 to 2:35 p.m.

This year, four manufacturing industry leaders will participate as panelists, with Mike Reader of Precision Plus as  Master of Ceremonies. All four panelists have demonstrated their tenacious spirit to succeed and will share their experiences and insights with the students.

Dawn Tabat, Chief Operations Officer – Generac. Ms. Tabat, currently oversees manufacturing, logistics, global supply chain, quality, safety, information services and human resources. She began her career at Generac with a summer job on the assembly line. Tabat credits her corporate success to welcoming and making the best of opportunities as they presented themselves—a trait, which she strives to pay forward. With 2013 revenues of $1.5B, Generac Power Systems is a manufacturer of backup power generation products for residential, light commercial and industrial markets.

Geoff Martin, Principal and Senior Leader – GE Healthcare Partners; Service Line Leader for GE’s Hospital of the Future Solution. Mr. Martin leads implementation teams who provide transformational solutions for organizational redesign and governance enhancement of healthcare institutions. GE’s Solutions focuses on increasing access, decreasing costs, and improving quality in healthcare through a combination of consulting and technology.

Dennis Giesler, General Manager- Parker Hannifin’s Quick Coupling Division. Mr. Giesler has led the Quick Coupling Division—the world’s largest manufacturer of quick couplings–since 2008. The company also produces hydraulic and pneumatic couplings in a variety of sizes, materials, and end configurations to accommodate a broad spectrum of design requirements as well as offering hydraulic swivels, check valves and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment.

Rick Lofy, Lean Six Sigma Instructor at Gateway Technical College, and Coordinator, CNC Summer Youth Boot Camp held at IMET Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Mr. Lofy will explain the boot camp program, and the benefits for students with regard to  skills and knowledge,  and work experience.  Additionally, he will address the boot camp’s expectations and hours.

Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus  Mr. Reader who has presented on our first two panels and is the chief organizer of the event. He along with Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, have dedicated themselves to bringing the world of manufacturing to students of area schools through field trips, job shadows, internships, youth apprenticeships, and informational panels.

This event attracts high-caliber students who are up for the challenge offered in today’s high-tech manufacturing arena. Fourteen high schools have been invited to participate:

  • Badger High School (Lake Geneva, WI)
  • Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, WI)
  • Big Foot High School (Walworth, WI)
  • Burlington High School (Burlington, WI)
  • Delavan Darien High School (Delavan, WI)
  • East Troy High School (East Troy, WI)
  • Faith Christian School (Williams Bay, WI)
  • Richmond Burton High School (Richmond, IL)
  • Union Grove High School (Union Grove, WI)
  • Waterford High School (Waterford, WI)
  • Westosha Central High School (Salem, WI)
  • Whitewater High School (Whitewater, WI)
  • Williams Bay High School (Williams Bay, WI)
  • Wilmot High School (Wilmot, WI)

For more information about the event, please contact Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus via phone or email.

Manufacturing helps to drive Wisconsin’s economy as a top contributor to the state’s real GDP ($50 billion in total output in 2013) and by employing16 percent (465,000) of the state’s workforce. While manufacturing was hit by the recent recession, it is making a fast-paced recovery. Reports indicate that the sector has recovered at least half of its jobs initially lost in the downturn, with the latest economic forecasts predicting continued employment growth and recovery into 2016. Manufacturing is expected to add nearly 19,000 jobs by 2020 (Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin).  Many of these jobs will require skills to support the technologically evolving and lean operations of manufacturing companies.

Manufacturing in Wisconsin will continue to be a prime source of employment as we have more workers in this career field than any other state. In addition, the manufacturing sector provides some of the best-paying non-managerial jobs, particularly for those with less than a 4-year college degree.

To view recaps of previous events, please click on the year: 20132014

Precision Plus’ Barry Butters Continues His Visits to Area Schools to Bring Manufacturing to the Front of the Class

Michael Reader

In November and December of 2014, Precision Plus’ Director of Education and Training Barry Butters continued on his mission to visit area schools to bring attention to the viability of manufacturing as a career option for today’s youth.

On November 3, 2014, Butters joined forces with Zach Ford from Scot Forge to make a presentation to a group of students at Richmond Burton High School in Illinois. Although Scot Forge and Precision Plus are on opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to the size of the parts they manufacture, both companies seek similar traits in future employees. Both Ford and Butters reiterated the importance for students to master soft skills–such as having a positive work attitude and respecting punctuality, as well as focusing their studies on STEM and pre-engineering courses that would contribute to their technical preparedness for jobs in manufacturing.

Butters also visited the Arrow Academy on November 11th, Burlington High School on December 2nd, and Westosha Central High School on December 9th, making presentations to their individual technical education classes. During his presentations, Butters delivered the same soft skills and STEM-focused classes’ message. Additionally, he explained the nature of the precision metal turning industry and demonstrated the CAD/CAM software used at Precision Plus to design parts and program CNC machines. Butters was happy to learn about Westosha Central High School’s plans to remodel their entire technical education facility beginning this summer.

Butters also participated in mock interviews at Elkhorn Area High School for Mrs. Joanne Pella’s Business Occupations class. “I give honest feedback to the students concerning their appearance and application materials from a manufacturing employer’s perspective. Often I am just reiterating what Mrs. Pella has already told them about the interviewing process, but having someone from outside the school repeat it, reinforces the message.” Several students have responded by sending letters of appreciation to Barry Butters.

Precision Plus invites any individual or group interested in learning more about the manufacturing industry to contact Barry Butters or Mike Reader or call 262-743-1700. We can set up informational tours of the facility and/or travel to speak to any group about the manufacturing industry. Precision Plus welcomes your comments and questions.

Precision Plus Continues to Support Area High Schools and Technical Colleges by Being Part of their CTE Advisory Committees

Michael Reader

Precision Plus currently serves on several career and technical education (CTE) high school and technical college advisory committees. Typically, the committees include advisors from area businesses, educators, and community and professional associations, who strive to strengthen curricula as well as the partnership between all of those involved.

On December 9, 2014, Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus and Barry Butters, the company’s Director of Education and Training attended a CTE meeting at Beloit Memorial High School. At this regularly scheduled meeting, school representatives appraised their business partners on the status of courses, curriculum and overall participation by the students, while manufacturers reviewed workforce related issues and suggested course offering revisions that would help to address these issues.

On December 10, 2014, Butters and Reader attended two CTE committee meetings: the Elkhorn Area High School meeting, and the Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus meeting.

At the Elkhorn Area High School CTE committee meeting, school representatives also sought the input of their business partners to develop a curriculum that best addresses key industry needs.

These changes are being discussed in anticipation to a major remodeling of the technical education facilities at the high school. Chris Trottier, their principal, led these discussions, explaining the school’s goal to prepare students to take full advantage of new industry opportunities as they become available. On December 15, 2015, Barry Butters will be part of a presentation to the School Board on the committee’s recommendation.

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, who also serves on the Facility Advisory Committee for the Elkhorn School District, confirmed that a recent survey shows overwhelming support by the community for this remodeling project and the technology education opportunities that could be derived from this undertaking.

At the Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus CTE committee meeting, advisors convened to take action on a grant proposal for nearly $500,000 to expand the CNC offerings at the Elkhorn campus. Currently the CNC offerings are only at the Racine campus. A successful outcome, would result in the remodeling of the technical education wing to host equipment for CNC machining. The results will be known in March.

The CTE committee meeting was also attended by three representatives from Haas Automation, as well as a number of representatives from area manufacturers.

Students Get Hands On In New Engineering Class: An Article in The Elkhorn Independent features Barry Butters

Michael Reader

The Elkhorn Independent recently featured an article outlining Precision Plus’ joint venture with Elkhorn Area High School to teach Project Lead The Way’s Capstone Course “Engineering, Design and Development,” whereby students will be taking the class at both the school and hands-on at Precision Plus  This is perhaps the first time that this capstone course is held primarily at a manufacturing facility.

Congratulations to Barry for leading such a ground-breaking endeavor!

Click here to read the full article on The Elkhorn Independent.

Precision Plus’ Barry Butters Is Certified to Teach Project Lead The Way’s Engineering Design and Development Capstone Course to High School Students

Michael Reader

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus spent two full weeks at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in June to complete intensive training to enable him to teach the course ‘Engineering Design and Development’ (EDD) to high school students. The course is a capstone course of the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) curriculum.

As per the description of the capstone course on PLTW’s website, “Engineering Design and Development (EDD) gives students the opportunity to work in teams to solve problems of their own choosing.  Under the guidance of a community mentor, teams employ all the skills and knowledge gained through previous coursework to brainstorm, research, construct and test  a model in real-life situations (or simulations); document their designs; and present and defend the designs to a panel of experts.”

Butters participation was sponsored by the Elkhorn Area School District. Beginning in fall 2014, he will be teaching Elkhorn Area H.S. students as well, as other students from local school districts, the EDD Course at Precision Plus’ classroom.

The instructors’ training at Milwaukee School of Engineering teamed up the participants to go through a simulation of the EDD program, which they will be teaching during the school year. Butters collaborated with Phil Winegar, Technology and Engineering Instructor at Menomonie High School, and Brent Siler, Technology and Engineering Instructor at Middleton High School.

The mission for the teams in the training course was to come up with a problem, a solution, develop three design models to implement the solution, and, after choosing one, present their project to a panel of engineers.

Butter’s team pursued a solution for preventing young children from chocking on food. The team focused on the development of a consumer device that would check the softness of food. It was not so much about having a working solution to the problem in two weeks, but rather about understanding how to approach the entire engineering process to come up with a solution.

After a great deal of brainstorming and a decision matrix, three possible prototype solutions–a spring-loaded plunger, a collapsible knife, and an elastic cutter–were printed on a MakerBot 3D printer.

Next, the team selected one potential solution and the solution was tested through experimentation. In the image to the left, butters tests the selected model for its ability to detect the softness of food consistency.

Finally, the results of their entire project and engineering  process were presented to a panel of engineers for scrutiny and recommendations. Pictured on the image to the right are Butters and his teammates Phil Winegar and Brent Siler.

Upon completion of the course, Butters and all the other participants received certificates from PLTW Master Teachers Sharon Tomski and Denise Kimblern, PLTW Affiliate Director Steve Salter, and MSOE V.P. of Academics, Dr. Frederick Berry.

All the training course graduates were looking forward to teaching this program in the fall.

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