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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 Efforts Help Bring a New CNC Boot Camp to Walworth County

Michael Reader

There is no doubt that Precision Plus had rallied incessantly to bring CNC training to Walworth County in Wisconsin. With Gateway Technical College’s (GTC) February 2015 announcement of their Elkhorn Campus expansion, which will include a new state-of-the-art manufacturing training center, CNC training in Walworth County is now a reality. As early as July 2015, incoming high school seniors will be able to attend a CNC Boot Camp at the Elkhorn Campus.

The CNC Boot Camp has proved to be a successful 14-week training program for adults, and it is currently on its 22nd session at the iMET Center in Sturtevant.  About three years ago, the same program was developed for high school seniors, to be taken in conjunction with their regular high school classes. The High School CNC Boot Camp—also known as the CNC Youth Boot Camp–also includes an internship with a manufacturing company.

This past year, Precision Plus supported the program by taking Boot Camp student Scott Dvorak from Waterford Union High School as an intern. Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training said, “Logistically, this was the first time that it made sense to sponsor a student. Scott attends early morning classes at the school, which is about a 30-minute drive from Precision Plus–a much shorter ride than it would be for his CNC classmates who typically attend the Racine School District. He arrives at the company at 10am and works until 3pm.

The CNC High School Boot Camp at the Elkhorn Campus is certainly a plus for Walworth County students and the community. Its July kickoff, however, is contingent on having enough interest from area students. Applications are due no later than May 1, 2015.

With the short time frame in mind, Precision Plus’ mission became to bring the news to as many people as possible and encourage students and parents to look into the program.

On Tuesday, February 24th, Barry Butters attended the Whitewater High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) Committee meeting along with Derek D’Auria the Executive Director Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA). The meeting is held twice a year for the school’s career, technical education teachers, so they can, in turn, share curriculum, and classroom updates with their industry partners and discuss new ideas and developments. Butters and D’Auria took this opportunity to inform the group about the CNC High School Boot Camp coming to Walworth County.

On Monday, March 9th, Barry Butters along with Rich Lofy, the Coordinator of the CNC Youth Boot Camp, spoke to a few East Troy students and parents at East Troy High School about opportunities in the machining industry and the boot camp itself. The event was coordinated by Stacey Kuehn, Assistant Principal at East Troy High School, and it was in conjunction with the school’s parent-teacher conference night.

On Friday, March 13th, Butters met with Lauren Paterson, a Badger High School student, her parent and the Badger High School Career and Technical Education Coordinator, Marie Collins, to discuss the Boot Camp and show Lauren some actual CNC applications.

On Monday, March 16th, Butters met with five students, two parents and the three guidance counselors from Elkhorn Area High School to talk about the CNC Youth Boot Camp and tour Precision Plus, so as to give the them a good understanding of the CNC machining industry.

  1. Butters begins the tours with a PowerPoint talking to students about what they will be seeing on the floor
  2. Butters shows the students parts that are being run on the Tornos Cam machines
  3. Butters talks about the Swiss type CNC machine
  4. Butters shows the students the Miyano CNC turret lathes
  5. Butters talks about the optical comparator and the precision that is held on the parts

On Tuesday, March 31st, three Gateway new student specialists and their supervisor toured Precision Plus to gain a better understanding of the machining industry.

The new student specialists were,

  • Amanda Hruzek, who services Delavan Darien High School, Williams Bay High School and Badger High School
  • Joseph Sell, who services Whitewater High School, Burlington High School and the Wisconsin School for the Deaf
  • Katie Graf, who serves the Walworth County Alternative High School, Elkhorn Area High School, Catholic Central High School, East Troy High School and Big Foot High School

Their supervisor is Angela Becerra-Chvilicek, who is the Director of College Access for Gateway.

Today’s machining professionals require a solid and balanced mix of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) background, mechanical aptitude and great problem solving skills. As such, it is imperative that those in the guidance/counseling areas have a firm grasp of the skills required to be 21st century machinist.The visit included a PowerPoint presentation and tour of the facility.

On Wednesday, April 1st, Precision Plus hosted another tour for students interested in the CNC Boot Camp in Walworth. The participation included two students from Burlington High School, one from Badger High School, one from Waterford Union High School, one from Elkhorn Area High School, and one from Wilmot High School. Each student brought along a parent. There were 12 people total for the tour.

Independently of Precision Plus’ efforts, two information meetings have taken place already. There will be one more chance for students to attend an information meeting for the CNC Boot Camp at the WCEDA office on Wednesday, April 8th. The WCEDA Office is now located in the South Building at the Gateway Elkhorn Campus. Interested students can call Marci Barr at 262-741-5263.

 

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 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.

Precision Plus’ Barry Butters Participates in the Burlington Area High School Career Fair in Burlington, Wisconsin

Michael Reader

On Friday, November 7, 2014, Barry Butters, Precision Plus’ Director of Education and Training, participated at the Burlington Area High School’s Career Fair. Precision Plus’ table was visited by many students who were interested in pursuing STEM-related careers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Butters had some components manufactured by Precision Plus at hand to demonstrate how crucial small components can be in all types of applications. Butters also addressed the opportunities of a career in manufacturing.

Precision Plus appreciates the opportunity to be part of the fair and looks forward to the next one.

The sySTEMnow Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Offered a Well-Rounded STEM Day

Michael Reader

The 11th Annual sySTEMnow Conference took place on October 28, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “sySTEM” is an acronym for Strengthening our Youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics… “now” means now! The event was open to the general public, including educators and students.

The conference was sponsored by STEM Forward, formerly known as Engineers & Scientists of Milwaukee, a group that has “conceived a cooperative body to meet the needs of engineers in the community” for over 100 years. As technology has evolved, so has the organization, which is currently Southeastern Wisconsin’s leading technical organization “providing and/or promoting educational outreach programs emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).”

The conference included respected keynote speakers, demonstrations by Generation STEM students, engaging breakout speakers, and networking. Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus led one of the breakout sessions, which was entitled “Building the STEM Pipeline: Small Business Partnership with PLTW,” where he, along with Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, spoke about how small businesses can effectively address their current and future needs for STEM talent in a highly competitive labor market.

Reader and Butters outlined the marked misnomers about manufacturing, and they discussed how STEM-driven technology has drastically changed the manufacturing industry. By partnering with Project Lead The Way and participating high schools, Precision Plus informs, trains and mentors young talent for possible future positions in the company.

Reader and Butters appreciated the opportunity to participate in the sySTEMnow Conference and look forward to continued dialog.

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.

Precision Plus Participates at Beloit Memorial High School’s Career Fair

Michael Reader

In a continued outreach to area schools, Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus spent the morning of October 6, 2014 at Beloit Memorial High School’s Career Fair.

We have developed a great working relationship with the Beloit School District with tours of our facility for their administration and teachers, classroom visits for presentations about manufacturing, and financial support for robotics clubs. We were more than happy to help out when Ryan Rewey the Director of Career & Technical Education at Beloit reached out for our participation in the fair.   What was unique to this career fair was that it included opportunities for elementary, middle school as well as the high school students. We will be also supporting the next Beloit Memorial venture on October 21st at 6:00pm when they introduce a new Career and Technical Education program. – Barry Butters

Here are some highlights from Beloit Memorial High School Career Fair:

Butters explaining to a high school student how the bottle filling component is machined.
 A high school student examines a component with an eyeloop to see the surface finish.
 A group of high school students who visited the table.
 A group of middle school students who visited the table.
 A group of elementary students who visited the table.
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