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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 Tours McHenry County College’s Advanced Manufacturing Department

Michael Reader

On September 15, 2014, Barry Butters, Director of Training and Education at Precision Plus and John McConville and Ryan Nuhn toured McHenry County College’s Advanced Manufacturing Department to learn about their manufacturing program. The facility was impeccably clean and featured manual machines as well as a CNC lathe and a CNC mill.

McHenry County is one of the fastest-growing manufacturing sectors in the region, accounting for more than 25 percent of the county’s earnings. McHenry County College offers a Fast Track Advanced Manufacturing Certificate, through a program that incorporates CAD (computer aided design, manufacturing processes, blueprint reading for manufacturing and CNC (computer numerical control) machining.

Manual Machines

CNC Lathe

CNC Mill

For more information on McHenry (Illinois) County College’s Fast Track Advanced Manufacturing Program, click here.

Precision Plus 2014 Summer Interns Headed Back to School

Michael Reader

The second year of Precision Plus’ Summer Internship Programs comes to an end, as the 18 interns head back to their respective high schools (East Troy, Badger, Elkhorn Area, Richmond and Wilmot) and colleges (U.W. Madison, U.W. Platteville, Milwaukee School of Engineering).

Although the internship program includes classroom time, the students spent most of their time on the floor, observing and learning from seasoned professionals and putting their new knowledge to work—hands-on.

Featured below are a few of Precision Plus summer interns in action.

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The end of the summer internship program was highlighted by field trips to several area manufacturing facilities as well as to the new iMET Center.

On August 8, 2014, the students and Precision Plus’ Director of Education and Training Barry Butters toured the iMET (SC Johnson Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology) Center– within Gateway Technical College– located in Sturtevant, WI . The iMET Center is a state of the art training facility. It also houses a FAB lab. “Fab labs are a global network of local labs, enabling invention by providing access for individuals to tools for digital fabrication, to make almost anything.” The students found the 3D scanner and 3D printers of particular interest.

On August 13, 2014, a trip was coordinated to visit the Haas Factory Outlet Open House, located in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

The students saw the latest generation of Haas machines. Of particular interest were the vertical mills, as Precision Plus does not use this type of machine. The students were amazed at how fast the mill could change tools. Haas has worldwide reputation as a technology leader in CNC machining.

The students also enjoyed seeing Kurt Busch’s Haas NASCAR #41 up close prior to performing in the Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14 following IMTS 2014.

On August 22, 2014, the interns were given a tour of MacLean-Fogg in Whitewater, WI by Randy Race, Director of Engineering. The company was founded in 2012 by merging two successful and complementary plastic injection molding businesses: Engineered Plastics Corp. in Menomonee Falls, WI and MacLean-Fogg’s Polymer Technologies in Whitewater. Their experience in practical plastics design, tooling, processing, and engineered materials is extensive and it is well known throughout the world.

The students learned all about plastic injection molding machines and about how automation has been a key player in the running of these machines.

But the field trip that left most interns awe-struck was the Spring Grove, IL tour of the Scot Forge facility. The tour was arranged through Zach Ford who is Scot Forge’s Technical Education Liaison.  While at Precision Plus, we sometimes have to use tweezers to hold our parts to measure them, Scot Forge manufactures things that have to be crawled inside of to measure. The sheer size difference was amazing to the students, and it gave them a much wider understanding of the variables in manufacturing.

We wish all of our interns success in their studies, and look forward to keeping up with their achievements.  In college, or college bound are:

  • Michael Reader MSOE (Jr.) and 4-year summer intern
  • Carson Filko MSOE (Fr) and 3-year summer intern
  • Britt Campbell MSOE (Fr.) 1-year Youth Apprentice/summer intern
  • Hunter Parks MSOE (Fr.), 1-year Youth Apprentice/summer intern
  • Riley Bruce MSOE (Fr.) 1-year summer intern
  • Kyle Poplar MSOE (Sr.) 1-year summer intern
  • Jon Stopple, UW-Platteville (So.) 2nd year intern
  • Bob Dall, UW-Madison (So.) 2nd year intern
  • Brad Killen, UW-Madison (So.) 2nd year intern
  • Jake Ruemmele UW Platteville (Jr.) 1st year intern

75 Gears on Mars – Mission Accomplished

Michael Reader

Back in 1955, when Stetler and Evelyn Young founded Forest City Gear in Roscoe, Illinois, they had a vision to create a leading gear manufacturing company, which would be well-respected throughout the world.  They did accomplish their dream and much more…but they certainly did not consider that 50-some years later, their gears would end up on Mars.

Our Curiosity, courtesy of  Our City, Our Story on Vimeo.

Curiosity, the latest of NASA’s Mars rovers, landed on the “red planet” on August 5, 2012 after an 8-month, 354 million-mile journey.  Forest City Gear can proclaim that a total of 75 of their gears are on Mars, split between Curiosity and an earlier Mars rover.

With over 50 years in the industry, this family-owned business has striven to be a model company, not only for the industry and their customers, but also for their employees.  The Youngs’ son Fred is now the CEO.

Precision Plus salutes Forest City Gear on their accomplishments and is proud to have them among our fine customers.

Midwest’s Rockford, Illinois: A Shining Star In The Aerospace Industry

Michael Reader

The Rockford, Illinois region is located in the middle of North America, equidistant between Milwaukee and Chicago and part of the third largest economic corridor in the U.S. According to the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, “The region offers abundant land for development at a low cost per acre, much of it within Foreign Trade Zone #176. This strategic location provides excellent direct access to markets via four interstates (I-90, I-88, I-39 and I-43); Global III, Union Pacific Railroad’s intermodal hub; and Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD), the 18th largest air cargo airport in the United States and home to the second largest UPS hub in the nation (parcel and heavy freight).”

The Greater Rockford Area is also a hub for the U.S. aerospace industry, hosting over 170 aerospace suppliers and employing over 6,000 people.  The Rockford region is home to five major tier one aerospace supply companies: Hamilton Sundstrand, Woodward, B/E Aerospace, Mag Aerospace Industries, Inc. and Supplycore. Additionally, local universities strive to bring science to the area. Rockford’s nearby Northern Illinois University (NIU) awards over 400 engineering degrees each year and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – a world leader in aviation and aerospace education – which established a campus at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport in 2008 and offers a number of aeronautical degrees, including masters in aeronautical science.

Jeff Kaney, an entrepreneur who has founded two aerospace companies in Rockford, and who is chairman of RAAN (The Rockford Area Aerospace Network)  says companies in the Rockford cluster constitute all elements of the aerospace supply chain, including assembly, inspection, testing, repair and software.

Kerry Frank, president of Comply 365 Solutions, a software firm that develops software for the Kindle Fire, iPads and other portable devices used by pilots and flight attendants, says the cluster has brought a great awareness regarding aerospace to the Midwest.

Local news  reported that the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) reported a strong start to 2012 with a 14 percent increase in first quarter passenger traffic year-over-year. Each month in the quarter saw strong passenger growth with March being the busiest month in RFD’s history. During its record-breaking month of March, 32,473 passengers came through RFD. March also had the largest increase in year-over-year traffic for the quarter, posting a nearly 18 percent jump. The previous busiest month at RFD was in March 2008 with 29,361 passengers.  Punta Cana and Denver destinations have really helped drive passenger growth with their strong bookings,” said Mike Dunn, RFD Director of Economic Development and Government Relations.

Precision Plus is a proud supplier to the aerospace industry, supplying mission-crucial components that are used from single-engine aircraft to the Space Shuttle.