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A Note from Mike Reader

Michael Reader

It is hard to believe summer, as we know it, is coming to a close: students are returning to school and Labor Day is right around the corner.  It has gone by quickly, but has left us with much to reflect upon as we head into the next season.

As time passes, it creates new opportunities for ideas to blossom into reality, and for changes to take place. I want to share with you some of the most significant events time brought through Precision Plus over the summer.

Change of the Guard

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, who joined our team 25 months ago, has chosen to return to the education field. As a career educator, and very accomplished one at that, he set out to learn everything he could about manufacturing from “Day One,” as he walked in the front door.

His energy and willingness to help anyone with a question quickly showed –even the most skeptical–why we had brought Barry on board.  His engagement with people spanned from those already in the building, to those outside unaware of the wonderful career opportunities in today’s manufacturing environment.

Barry immersed himself in learning all facets of what we do in order to help us improve and to share the story with students, educators and parents.  Like everything else Barry had set to do in his life, he excelled while making a positive impact on everyone he interacted with.

Sadly for me and the Precision Plus Team, Barry has transitioned back into public education to continue his passion for working with young adults.  Our loss, is Beloit Memorial High School’s gain, where Barry will be back in the classroom teaching advanced math and other Project Lead The Way (PLTW) classes.

Goodbye is too permanent a word, so I say farewell my good friend.  May your journey continue to influence the next generation of leaders, problem solvers and difference makers.  You will be missed, but never forgotten. I truly hope we will find a way to continue the work started with you, even if in a smaller scale.  Big shoes to fill.

Into them, however, steps another difference maker.  Mark Beilman, former Tech Ed instructor from East Troy High School, joined our team on August 3rd, to take the reins from Barry and lead our education and training efforts.   Mark brings a balanced background, with experience in manufacturing as well as education, which has helped him hit the ground running, as he explains in his introductory letter.  Please join me in giving Mark a warm welcome.

Customer/Employee Surveys

Our quest to be a better vendor/partner, community members and employer is an ongoing effort.  This summer, we have been working with the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center to learn more about ourselves through how our customers and employees perceive us.

To accomplish this, we have conducted both customer and employee surveys.  Let me personally thank all of you who participated, and please know all your comments are important to me, including those that point out our flaws, as they clearly represent opportunities for improvement.

Internally, we have started conversations to address each of these and we are working aggressively to do better as we build upon all the positives already in place.  You will likely see a few additional short surveys in the months to come and I thank you in advance for your honest feedback.

Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Manufacturing Center

Our partnership with Gateway Technical College (GTC) continues to grow and evolve.  Together with Mark Beilman, we were given a private tour of the Elkhorn Campus Manufacturing Lab, following the arrival of four brand new Haas SL-10 lathes and one Tsugami S205 Swiss-type CNC lathe fitted with a high pressure coolant pump and a MTA tracer magazine barfeeding system.

Many thanks go to Dr. Bryan Albrecht of GTC for listening to the business community and embracing the opportunity to be a leader in Southeast Wisconsin technical education.

Our heartfelt appreciation must also go out to the equipment manufacturer partners that stepped up with VERY generous donations to make this dream come true.  Brad Morris of the Morris Group and Jamie Schwarz of CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologies both offered state-of- the-art equipment at a substantial discount.

Furthermore, I am thrilled to announce that PartMaker Software and GTC have forged a long-term agreement to provide computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software for the students in the Manufacturing Lab.  Hanan Fishman, President of Delcam/PartMaker deserves a big “Thank you!” for making this happen.  Only with the support of industry leaders like Brad, Jamie and Hanan, could the Manufacturing Lab become a reality.

Mecco Laser Marking System

In the meantime, Precision Plus continues to invest in technologies to add value for our customers/partners, the latest addition being a laser marking system by Mecco.  It is a 20-watt fiber laser with a 110 x 110 mm field fitted with a rotary stage and powered z-axis to enable us to mark around round parts.  Paul McDonough has completed the installation validation and it is “open for business.”  An article about Paul and the Mecco Laser Marking System is available for you to read HERE.

Solar Array

As of August 7th, our solar array became functional, and continues to generate energy–even on cloudy days. Our appreciation goes to Neil Fleischhacker for coordinating this project as well as other green initiatives. Recent statistics and a video of the installation are available HERE.

2015-2016 Apprentices

Precision Plus will soon welcome our 2015-2016 apprentices, and we are diligently planning a fall schedule that includes school visits, career and technical education committee meetings, MFG Day celebrations, and much more.

I look forward to continue to update you on Precision Plus

-Mike

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.

A Complete Day for Three Elkhorn Middle School PLTW Students and Their Teacher

Michael Reader

Alex Hutson has been a teacher in the Elkhorn Area School District in Wisconsin. “This is my fifteenth year teaching in Elkhorn and I have enjoyed being in Elkhorn very much. My wife and I live here in town and we have three of our own kids in the Elkhorn schools,” he states.

Mr. Hutson, as he is known to his students, is also a science and technology buff, always learning something new and putting that knowledge into practice. Personally, he likes to sail and build with LEGO bricks. At school, he is involved in the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Launch Curriculum for elementary school children and is an adviser for the Elkhorn Technology and Engineering Club (E-TEC) which has groups both in the middle school and high school. He leads the Automation and Robotics Class, which currently focuses on robotics, but is looking to expand into computers and general electronics.

On April 22, 2015, he accompanied three outstanding 6th grade students from Elkhorn Area Middle School–Wendy Remeeus, Gwen Nicholas and Lesly Rodriguez–to receive a special commendation from Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. On their way back to the school, he and the students made a special stop at Precision Plus to go through a tour of the facility.

This is what happened:

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Precision Plus welcomes students and teachers to tour our facility. To schedule a tour, please contact Barry Butters via email or by phone.

Precision Plus Continues On Its Manufacturing Pilgrimage, Leaving No Classroom Unturned

Michael Reader

On May 15, 2015, Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, representing Precision Plus of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, visited three 4th grade classes at Tibbits Elementary School in the Elkhorn Area School District. Earlier in the year, Butters visited second and third graders to create excitement about manufacturing…or making things from scratch, as the school had recently embarked in Project Lead The Way’s (PLTW) Launch Program for young elementary school students.


However, being with the 4th graders allowed Butters to take the excitement to the next level. “This allowed me to use the Inventor software to probe the students understanding of two dimensional shapes and what happens when the shapes are extruded to a third dimension,” he said, “as when a circle extruded becomes a cylinder.”

Following the presentation, students were able to pick up and explore some of the parts made by Precision Plus, with a better understanding of the process from beginning to end.


Precision Plus thanks the Tibbits Elementary School students and their teachers for their time and attention, and shares their kind thank you notes.

STEM Education Event at Advanced Manufacturing Center on April 22, 2015 Features Elkhorn Area School District PLTW Students and Teachers, State Legislators and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch

Michael Reader


In fall of 2014, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) announced a pilot program with a curriculum specifically designed for elementary school children, to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics arts (STEM). PLTW has had a solid record for rigorous and comprehensive curricula available to children from middle school through high school. Elkhorn Area School District was an early adopter of the elementary grades pilot program, the PLTW Launch Curriculum, which gives students an opportunity to explore and apply STEM sciences early on.

Dr. Joshua Schultz, Affiliate Director of PLTW at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), extended an invitation to Elkhorn Area School District PLTW students, as well as teachers and administrators, to participate in a Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development event and reception at the Advanced Manufacturing Center in Milton, WI on April 22, 2015, to celebrate the district’s accomplishments and receive a special recognition. Also invited were State of Wisconsin legislators, PLTW officials, Barry Butters from Precision Plus, and Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

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As planned, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch was at hand to hand the special recognitions. So were William White, Vice President, Project Lead The Way Midwest Region, Jason Tadlock, District Administrator for the Elkhorn Area School District and Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus

Students included Cullen Gahart (3rd Grade), Matthew Prokes (4th Grade), Natalie Petersen (5th Grade), Lesly Rodriguez (6th Grade), Gwen Nicholas (6th Grade), Wendy Remeeus (6th Grade), Elizabeth Wallace (11th Grade, Justice Bachtell (12th Grade), J.P. Griswold (12th Grade) and Kathryn Lieffrig (12th Grade). Teachers present were Eryca Card, Linda Frankenberg, Alex Hutson, Barry Butters and Jerry Iserloth. Jason Tadlock and Chris Trottier represented the administrators.

Teachers and administrators were asked to talk about their STEM initiatives, and to showcase their efforts to support education, their students, and reiterate the importance of STEM education policy decisions in Wisconsin. In addition, students from the Elkhorn Area School District displayed their projects and shared the value and lessons learned through their PLTW coursework.

The agenda included a continental breakfast, introductions and welcome by Tania Kilpatrick, CESA 6, an overview of PLTW in the Midwest Region by William White, presentations by Jason Tadlock, Barry Butters, Eryca Card and students, and by Thor Misko, Vice President of Development at PLTW. Dr. Joshua Schultz closed the program with final remarks about the event and the program.

And thank you, Elkhorn Area School District, for the shout out on their Facebook Page!

 

Precision Plus’ Barry Butters Continues His Outreach to Area Schools by Promoting Manufacturing to Elementary Students

Michael Reader

On February 23, 2015 Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, visited Gaston Elementary School in Beloit to talk to second and third grade students. Then, on Wednesday, March 18th, he made the same presentation to the second grade classrooms at Westside Elementary School in Elkhorn. Both of the schools are participating in Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Launch Curriculum.

The presentation included sharing the story of manufacturing with the students, and how people who are strong in the STEM arts (science, technology, engineering and math) are the ones who can change the world. Butters also talked about the engineering design process as it is introduced in the PLTW curriculum.

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“It is so cool to see the excitement of these young students holding parts and bar ends. It cannot be too early to plant the seeds of a potential career in the manufacturing field with these young students,” said Butters.

Learn more about Project Lead The Way Launch Curriculum here.

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.

Precision Plus Featured in Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Article

Michael Reader

On January 20, 2015, Precision Plus was featured by PLTW in an article entitled, “PLTW Spotlight: PLTW Wisconsin State Leadership Team.”

The article, which appeared on the PLTW Blog, outlines the accomplishments achieved over the last ten years thanks to the partnership forged between Wisconsin educators and Project Lead The Way, which can now boast that “nearly 400 Wisconsin schools have implemented PLTW’s project and problem-based K-12 STEM programs.”

In the article, Jason Tadlock, superintendent of the Elkhorn Area School District and a member of the PLTW Wisconsin State Leadership Team, points to  the impressive success of “hands-on programs” on students at all levels.

Tadlock also talks about the direct correlation between manufacturers involvement and the overall success of the program. Precision Plus is cited for offering “numerous opportunities to PLTW students, including apprenticeships, career fairs, and even on-site PLTW capstone course instruction in the Precision Plus classroom.”

PLTW is the nation’s leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) solution in over 6,500 schools across the U.S.

Click here to read the complete article.

Wisconsin Project Lead The Way Publishes 2015 Design Guide for Classrooms and Cross-Disciplinary Environments

Michael Reader

Wisconsin Project Lead The Way (PLTW), in collaboration with Eppstein Uhen : Architects, and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) have published the 2015 Design Guide for ideas in implementing classroom setups for dedicated and/or cross-disciplinary environments.

The 52-page guide, which addresses the physical class/space requirements for conducting PLTW programs, was published to provide educators and administrators with conceptual tools to visualize how these programs can be physically implemented in facilities through remodeling and/or repurposing existing facilities, construction of new additions, or developing entirely new facilities to enhance the PLTW programs in schools.

This well thought out guide, is an invaluable tool for any school or organization implementing or expanding areas dedicated to STEM education. Access the full guide HERE.

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.

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