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Education Update for December 2015

Michael Reader

East Troy Middle School Visits

Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus (PPI) recently visited three technical education classes at East Troy Middle School in East Troy, WI, at the request of Michael Mass, Technical Education Instructor.

MSOE Freshman-Life Update from Precision Plus Intern Amanda Mudlaff

Michael Reader

Amanda Mudlaff is a freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Since 2014, she has served as a dedicated intern and an apprentice at Precision Plus (PPI) in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Her work is impeccable and her enthusiasm is contagious. She’s also an applied student who has earned a scholarship from PPI, with the possibility of it being renewed for the next three years. She will be back at Precision Plus for a short-term winter break internship when school is off.

Precision Plus Participates at MSOE’s 2015 Career Fair, and Shares Intern Success Stories

Michael Reader

Once a year, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) holds a career fair, which provides businesses a chance to meet qualified students face-to-face. In 2015, the fair took place on Friday, October 9th, at MSOE’s Kern Center. According to the organizers, the fair is “the perfect venue to gain exposure” for any company. MSOE is regarded as the fifth most innovative university in the Midwest, offering the twelfth best undergraduate engineering program in the U.S.

There is no wonder why more than 200 companies participate in the fair, looking to attract qualified individuals for internships or jobs. This is the second consecutive year for Precision Plus (PPI) to participate in the fair. Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training for the company was at hand to talk to students about the company’s summer internship program, which provides practical experience and brings to life theories and processes learned in the classroom.

Four of Precision Plus’ 2015 summer interns (Britt Campbell, Carson Filko, Jessica Flock, and Amanda Mudlaff) are currently enrolled at MSOE. Some of PPI’s 2015 summer interns were featured in a video produced to celebrate Manufacturing Month by Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce. Precision Plus has also pledged two scholarships for incoming mechanical engineering freshman students who attend the school and participate in PPI’s summer internship program.

Mike Reader, Jr.’s Internship Story at Scot Forge

Last year’s MSOE Career Fair also presented an opportunity for Mike Reader, Jr., pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at MSOE, who after a four-year summer intern at Precision Plus looked for a chance to gain broader industry experience with a different company. In the summer of 2014, he and other PPI interns had taken a tour of Spring Grove, IL based Scot Forge, a company that is regarded as the industry leader in open die forging and rolled ring forging. Their products, quite the opposite of what he had experienced at PPI, are parts that could weigh as little as 100 pounds, or as much as 150,000 pounds—a considerable departure from Swiss precision machining.

Mike applied for a summer internship with Scot Forge as well as for a scholarship/internship opportunity. After several interviews, he was awarded one of eight 2015-2016 Peter I. Georgeson scholarships, and a 2015 summer internship.

At Scot Forge, Mike interned with a self-sufficient team consisting of a project group, an engineering group, a maintenance department, and a machine repair department where he spent most of his time. There, he worked with several different team members on a variety of assignments: from learning how to MIG weld, to welding new structures, working on big gearboxes, large servo motors, and transmissions, to realigning heads on turrets, working on the electrical cabinets of different machines, as well as on cooling systems with pumps, and much more.

Mike’s goal was to get hands-on floor experience, to observe successes and failures, but especially how failures can be reversed. Mike credits the ingenuity of his team members, typically with a farming or construction background, who always found a way to get things done.

Mike enjoyed interning at Scot Forge, an employee-owned company, where employees look to each other for solutions and take ownership of their work. He returned to MSOE in the fall.

In his spare time, Mike loves learning about cars and engines, and is currently fascinated with his 2004 VW Passat W8 motor—the way it’s configured, how the cylinders are arranged, and what makes it perform the way it does.

Mike will be graduating from MSOE in the spring of 2016, and his goals and aspirations are to enjoy what he is doing, while applying schooling and skills, and having fun along the way.

Precision Plus’ 2015-2016 Year Education Update

Michael Reader

By Mark Beilman
Director of Education and Training

The 2015-2016 academic year is well underway, and so are Precision Plus’ efforts to continue spreading the word among students, parents and teachers about career possibilities in manufacturing.

In addition to visiting schools, talking to technical education teachers, and participating in career and technical education (CTE) committees, Precision Plus (PPI) makes itself present at high school and college career fairs.

On September 9, 2015, PPI was present at the Panther Fest Career Fair at Wilmot Union High School, and plans to be at Beloit High School’s career fair on the 24th. On October 9th, the destination will be Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), which will hold its career fair then.

On September 15, 2015, PPI attended Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus’s Open House, which showcased the new Community Center conference room, the Student Life Center, Walworth County Job Center, Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA), the Veterinary Sciences building, and the Walworth County Educational Consortium’s Alternative High School.

Drawings of the anticipated new CNC Center were also on display. Precision Plus is fully vested in the success of this program. The first Youth CNC Boot Camp at the Elkhorn Campus began in July. One of the highlights of the program is the mentorship which each individual student receives from a designated industry professional.

A “Meet-and-Greet” luncheon for students and mentors was held at the college on September 18th, where mentors were announced and appointed. The luncheon was sponsored by WCEDA and the Walworth County Job Center. Precision Plus is excited to mentor two students during the 2015-2016 year: Elliot Salentine from East Troy High School and Cameron Bunne from Elkhorn High School. The students will not only receive ongoing mentoring, but will have an opportunity to work at PPI beginning in February of 2016, in accordance to their curriculum.

Precision Plus also encourages schools to bring classes to tour its facilities. On September 16, 2015, Career Advocate Lindsay Healless from Beloit Middle School brought her students to interview Mike Reader and Chris Clausen about careers in manufacturing. The students asked very good questions during the interview, but two of the students, Emily and MacKenzie, stumped Reader and Clausen when asked how they balanced work and their personal lives, and what were the most difficult portions of their jobs.

Two other schools are scheduled to tour the facility in October: the Walworth County Educational Consortium’s Alternative High School on the 8th, and Whitewater High School on the 15th.

The most anticipated event, however, is the celebration of Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY). Precision Plus is opening its doors for an open house on Thursday, October 8, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Students, educators, parents, legislators and the public at large are invited to partake in an informal presentation by several PPI employees on what their roles are at the company, and take guided tours of the plant. To attend this event, please register HERE.

Precision Plus is committed to education and to bringing awareness of career opportunities in high-tech manufacturing. To schedule a tour of our facility and/or allow us to make a presentation to your group or organization, please contact Mark Beilman by email or by calling 262-743-1700.

A Day in the Life of Precision Plus Apprentice Amanda Mudlaff

Michael Reader

So, what does it take to be a Precision Plus apprentice?

This is Amanda’s story.

Amanda Mudlaff is your typical high school senior, involved in sports—track and field, including pole vaulting, cheerleading, dancing…and homework.  Her extracurricular activities include being an FFA member, a wrestling manager, a multi-cultural club member, and a youth cheerleading coach. She is also a member of the National Honor Society.

Amanda also loves everything marine related. She practically grew up “living” on boats during her summers in Wisconsin, enjoying water sports, boating, and helping take care of her family’s Sea Ray 250 SLX. In fact, her passion for the marine field has inspired her to pursue a degree in marine engineering.

When her junior year shop teacher at East Troy High School mentioned a summer internship opportunity at Precision Plus, Amanda jumped at the opportunity. Not knowing what to expect, she was impressed with the process, as it required filling out an application, going to a formal interview, and having to wait about a week to get a reply. She was accepted into the program, along with 18 other interns, selected from dozens of applications.

The paid summer internship was held from June 15 through the last week of August of 2014, and it required interns to work 40 hours per week. The program included classroom time to learn and design with Autodesk Inventor CAD and PartMaker CAM software, as well as plant, machinery and business processes observation, and hands-on learning on tools and equipment.

When in the summer of 2014, Precision Plus announced their 2014-2015 Apprenticeship Program, Amanda turned in her application again and was subsequently accepted as one of six apprentices. The program expects active participation at both the company and their respective high schools, and the apprentices must adhere to a number of academic standards.

Monday through Friday, Amanda arrives at Precision Plus at 6am and primarily works in the Quality Lab, where she counts the components for a particular order, inspects the finish and checks all dimensions against order specs. She inspects parts visually for chips and she also uses equipment such as calipers, micrometers, oasis, comparators, and gauges to help streamline the process, making sure to record all discrepancies and accept or reject the components. She compares the inspection process with that of an active investigation, where no stone remains unturned.

At 9am, Amanda leaves the plant to go to class, and tend to all of her extracurricular activities.

This fall, Amanda will begin a new chapter in her life as a freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where she will pursue marine engineering as a career. Amanda is also a recipient of one of two $5,000 Precision Plus MSOE merit scholarships.

For more information about Precision Plus’ Summer Internship and School-Year Apprenticeship Programs, please contact Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training via phone or email.

How Inventors, Institutions, Innovators, Educators and Businesses Collaborate to Forge a Brighter Future for Our Children: Two Case Studies

Michael Reader

Mukwonago and Beloit (located about 50 miles apart) are two school districts in Wisconsin,  whose students’ paths are not likely cross. However, there is a common thread which  the share:  students from both districts are equally as excited about technology, and are eager to join in extracurricular activities to create products and solve problems, by putting STEM-related principles to work.

Educators and facilitators at both school districts provide the direction, mentoring and encouragement to makeit possible to happen, understanding that the students’ inventions and innovations will need to be put to the test…perhaps through competition, or possibly in the field. Extracurricular initiatives such these are often halted by lack of funding and/or access to facilities, materials or tools that can take the project from design to reality. This is where Precision Plus. and the Milwaukee School of Engineering Rapid Prototyping Consortium come to play. More on that later.

People may know Dean Kamen as a prolific inventor with more than 150 patents to his name, including the famous Segway. However, Kamen is also well known for launching “FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” an organization whose mission is to “transform culture by creating a world where STEM is celebrated, and where young people dream of being science and technology leaders.” FIRST celebrated its 26th anniversary on March 20, 2015. Kamen explains FIRST in this short video retrieved from their Facebook Page:

Early in the history of FIRST, Kamen enlisted the help of Woodie Flowers, PhD and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, to create the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), where high school teams would compete with robots they designed themselves. Twenty-eight U.S. teams participated in the first competition held in 1992. Today, there are over 800 teams competing globally.

In addition to the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for grades 9-12, FIRST also sponsors three other competitions: The Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) for children ages 6 to 9, The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for children 9-14 in the U.S.), and the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for grades 9-12. In all instances, the competitions are designed for young people to “gain self-confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends, and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path.”

First Case Study. One of the teams competing this year in FIRST is The Mukwonago BEARs (Building Extremely Awesome Robots), also known as FRC Team #930 from Mukwonago, Wisconsin. The team is participating in two regional competitions: Wisconsin Regional (March 18-21) at the University of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Panther Arena, and Buckeye Regional (March 25-28) at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Earlier in the year, FRC Team #930 contacted Precision Plus for support… not financial, but prototyping support. The team needed access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology to design and prototype one-of-a-kind components for their robot. The perfect place to get this accomplished was the MSOE Rapid Prototyping Consortium Center to which only members have access for a specified number of lab hours. As an active member of the consortium, Precision Plus was able to donate lab time for FRC Team #930 to use in time for the competition.

Second Case Study. Precision Plus also had the opportunity to support the launch of Beloit’s FIRST LEGO League for middle school students, The cyBER Team. The program is led by excellent educators and facilitators, with an added layer of mentoring, which is provided by high school students who are also involved in FRC. Through this type of engagement, the high school students are also learning to better communicate and teach. Last November, the cyBER team competed for the first time with great first-time results.

This video documents cyBER Team’s progress during their first year.

Twenty-six years ago, Dean Kamen had an idea, which is continues to grow. Precision Plus is happy to support the school districts of Beloit and Mukwonago and wishes them continued success.

Precision Plus Offers Two $5,000 Scholarships for 2015/2016 Incoming MSOE Freshman ME Students

Michael Reader

Through March 13, 2015, Milwaukee School of Engineering’s (MSOE) Financial Aid Office will accept applications for the $5,000 Precision Plus Scholarship, available for up to two qualified students.  These scholarships are made available to 2015/2016 incoming MSOE Freshman Mechanical Engineering students. A series of criteria must be met in order to qualify to be considered for the scholarships, including participating (if offered) in a paid summer internship at Precision Plus following the school year.  The scholarships are renewable, providing the recipients fulfill all the criteria.

For complete information, please click here.

Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus Continues His Commitment Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap, by Serving as a Corporate Member of the MSOE Board

Michael Reader

In October of 2014, Precision Plus’ President Mike Reader was welcomed as one of the newest corporate members to join the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s (MSOE) Board.

MSOE Board is comprised of representatives of business, industry, government and education, which “governs the operations and the future planning of the university through a series of standing committees.” Above all, MSOE’s Board of Regents and Corporation members consider the relationship between industry and the university “a hallmark of MSOE.”

As a member of the MSOE Board, Reader reiterates his commitment to closing the manufacturing skills gap by strengthening the ties between education and real world high-tech manufacturing.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) ranked 14th Best Undergraduate Engineering Program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Other interesting “by the number” information about the school can be found here.

Precision Plus Participates at the Milwaukee School of Engineering 2014 Career Fair

Michael Reader

Each year, Milwaukee School of Engineering holds a career fair open to all majors. The 2014 MSEO Career Fair took place on Friday, October 10th. Precision Plus was one of over 200 companies exhibiting at the event for the purpose of recruiting and meeting students one-on-one.

Both Mike Reader, President , and Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, worked the booth, along with Mike Reader, Jr. who is presently attending the institution.   Mike Jr. is one of five former Precision Plus’ interns/apprentices who are currently enrolled at MSOE.

The conversation with students was non-stop, making the event highly successful with nearly 40 applications received specifically from those majoring in industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology.

Precision Plus is planning to more than double its current capacity by next year, and is currently hiring for various positions.

MSOE’s Rapid Prototyping Consortium Continues a Long Standing Tradition of Research and Innovation in Additive Manufacturing Industry

Michael Reader

Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus and Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training were asked to speak at the October 17, 2014 meeting of the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Rapid Prototyping Consortium.   The meeting also featured Reed Pulver, National Accounts Manager of All-State Industries and Vito Gervasi Director or R&D, Rapid Prototyping Research. Tom Bray, Dean of Applied Technology Center at MSOE began the meeting with a presentation on the history of the organization and recognition of long standing members.

For over 23 years, the consortium has forged together one of the most successful academic-industry partnerships in additive manufacturing, and is a powerful ally to businesses to drastically cut down on the turnaround time for producing a prototype. A driving force of the consortium has been MSOE’s Rapid Prototyping Research Department, which is credited with many rapid prototyping research accomplishments, such as creating—and patenting– a complex, three dimensional lattice structures modeled after the atomic bond structure found in diamond (TetraLattice), and developing an algorithm to produce the first complex protein model built using rapid prototyping.

The Rapid Prototyping Consortium has consistently been at the forefront of technology. “Today, with its 10 installed systems and over 15 material choices, the center supports about 65 consortium companies on a daily basis with their new product development needs.” Among member organizations, the consortium includes not only industrial companies, but also educational institutions.

Rapid Prototyping Center’s tagline is “Use tomorrow’s technology today.” Sheku Kamara is the director of the consortium.

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