Precision Plus Continues to Serve In the Community

Michael Reader

The Elkhorn Area School District Administration recommended to its Board of Education to form an advisory committee to explore the facility needs of the district. Following a community-wide survey addressing the district’s needs and the likelihood of community support for such needs, the advisory committee made its presentation to the board on December 15, 2014. The survey was conducted by an independent agency.

The administration sought to include a cross section of individuals from the community to serve on the advisory committee–parents and non-parents, educators and business leaders–and asked Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus to serve as a representative of a local manufacturer. Barry is also a long-time resident of Elkhorn, whose two children are graduates of the school district, and who already has had a strong working relationship with the school district.

“I was happy to serve on the committee,” said Butters who reiterated Precision Plus’ President Mike Reader’s sentiment that manufacturers need to be working with school districts instead of sitting idly and complaining about work force development issues.

The committee met numerous times over the last several months, during which time, they reviewed the 2014 community survey, a space capacity study and an overall facility study. Working together, the committee formulated a recommendation for a potential referendum, which balances the needs of the district, with the identified support level of the community.

On December 20, 2014, Tracy Owellete of My Walworth County posted an article by The Elkhorn Independent‘s Editor Kellen Olshefski, which outlines all the points presented at the board meeting and the proposed referendum.

Butters was one of three members of the committee who presented the committee’s recommendations to the board, including the community’s resounding support to fund the remodeling of the high school to include a new technical education wing supporting manufacturing career development.

The school board will take some time to review the issues and finalize the referendum questions that will be put to the community this spring.

To see a video of the board meeting, click here.  To see the PowerPoint presentation of the facilities recommendation report, click here.

Elkhorn, Wisconsin Is Open for Business—Outlining the Mission and Vision of the Elkhorn Economic Development Alliance (EEDA)

Michael Reader

This is a reprint from an Elkhorn Independent article describing the progress the Elkhorn Economic Development Alliance (EEDA) is doing to attract business to the area by embarking into some “big improvements for the future of Elkhorn.”

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus is an active member of the group and serves as its secretary.

Click here for a PDF of the article.

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.

Precision Plus Congratulates the Latest Gateway Technical College’s CNC Boot Camp Graduates

Michael Reader

On Friday December 5, 2014, the class of Gateway Technical College’s CNC Boot Camp #20, received their certificates for completing the program. The ceremony took place at the SC Johnson iMET Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Bryan Albrecht, GTE’s President and Chief Executive Officer, led the ceremony. In addition to awarding general certificates, deserving students received MSSC (Manufacturing Skills Standards Council) certificates, CCMS (Critical Core Manufacturing Skills) certificates, perfect attendance certificates, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certificates and Most Valuable Classmate certificate.

Earlier in the day, Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training traveled to the SC Johnson iMET Center to participate in a mock interview experience with the students. The mock interviews are the last part of the CNC Boot Camp program. Companies volunteer their services by sending a representative to perform the mock interviews in an effort to give real world advice about the interviewing process for the Boot Camp graduates. Butters said, “I try to give them the insight as to what employers are looking for and tips to help avoid any pitfalls in a real interview setting.”

Area employers were also invited to conduct real interviews right after the conclusion of the graduation ceremony.

Precision Plus congratulates all the graduates and wishes them continued success in their careers.

Precision Plus Visits Gateway Technical College, Racine Campus

Michael Reader

This year’s visits to Wisconsin technical colleges, finished with a tour of Gateway Technical College’s Racine Campus. This time however, the visit had an added point of interest, as Precision Plus Apprentice Caitlin Sanders and her father accompanied Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training on the tour.

Caitlin is a senior at Big Foot High School in Walworth, and is planning to take several CNC courses at the Racine facility during the spring semester. The Racine Campus offers a solid CNC training curriculum that includes boot camps and specialized certifications.

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Located in Historic Downtown Racine, Wisconsin, the Racine Campus is a beautifully landscaped facility set on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Gateway has a rich and proud heritage in local and national career training education. Original state legislation established adult and technical education in 1911. As the first technical school in Wisconsin—the nation’s first publicly supported technical institution—Racine Continuation School began that same year in downtown Racine as the name predecessor to Gateway Technical College. See Gateway history at

Precision Plus thanks Rich Shouse, one of the newest members of the technical education department at the Racine Campus, who gave Butters and the Sanderses a tour of the facility and the CNC Department.

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.

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.

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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