FABTECH 2015 Highlights: The Show, GTC Student Wins Welding Competition, Customer/Partners Attending the Show Visit Precision Plus

Michael Reader

Representatives from companies from around the world come together once a year to attend FABTECH, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing exposition, to see everything from the most basic metalworking machines to fringe of technology equipment, products and services.

In 2015, the event was held over four days (November 9-12) at Chicago’s McCormick Place, spread over 700,000 square feet, and welcomed over 40,000 attendees from more than 90 countries.

FABTECH was first held in Cleveland, Ohio in 1981 to showcase advances in technology. Over the years, it forged partnerships with five key trade associations: FMA (Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International), SME (formerly the Society of Manufacturing Engineers), AWS (American Welding Society), PMA (Precision Metalforming Association), and CCAI (Chemical Coaters Association International), resulting in a show that brings together buyers and sellers, and features the latest. FABTECH also offers industry-targeted education.

The show appeals to a vast audience representing the varied and diverse makeup of the manufacturing industry—from the smallest job shop to the largest Fortune 500 manufacturing—as both (and everyone in between) are looking for innovating solutions that could increase their competitive edge.

Live demonstrations, educational sessions, networking and even welding competitions take place over the 4-day event. This year, special event presentations were on point with technology trends and featured programs on additive manufacturing/3D printing, security risks, women in manufacturing, the significance of teamwork within successful organizations.

An always-favorite event is the welding competition, where talented welders compete for the “Best Welder in America” title. The participants were graded on speed and quality, while they demonstrated their skill by making a single-pass SMAW weld with an E7018 on low-carbon steel. First place and $2,500 were awarded to Aaron Oetken, a self-employed welder/fabricator from Iowa. Andrew Miller, a welding engineer at Caterpillar received $500.00 and the third place in the competition. It is worth noting, however, that the second place winner and recipient of $1,000.00 was Tommy Ruge, a student at Gateway Technical College (GTC) in Racine, Wisconsin. Congratulations to Tom, his instructors, and GTC.

Representatives from Precision Plus typically attend FABTECH, as do some of their customer/partners. This year, management team members from a distinguished customer/partner located in Costa Rica, paid a visit to Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, after the show.

On this occasion, the representatives from the company gave a presentation to the entire Precision Plus Team on their company and products. They also discussed the culture they have developed with their employees, their customers and their supply chain partners from whom they require parts that have tolerances as close as +/- 0.0002”, confirming that the final product is not just a mere object, but the result of creative solutions that are obtained through collaboration and dedicated relationships.

In 2016, FABTECH is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 16-18, providing, once again a powerfully aligned hands-on, face-to-face business growth experience, featuring North America’s largest collaboration of technology, equipment and knowledge in the metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing industries.

Gateway Technical College’s President Bryan Albrecht is Recognized as the 2015 Entrepreneurial President by the NACCE

Michael Reader

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) has recently recognized Dr. Bryan Albrecht, President and CEO of Wisconsin’s Gateway Technical College as its “2015 Entrepreneurial President.”

“NACCE is the premier organization for identifying best practices in high-impact entrepreneurship education within community colleges and the entrepreneurial ecosystems they serve.”

“Gateway Technical College collaborates with communities in Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties to ensure economic growth and viability by providing education, training, leadership and technological resources to meet the changing needs of students, employers and communities.”

As an industry partner of Gateway Technical College, Precision Plus congratulates Dr. Albrecht on this great achievement.

Click HERE for a PDF of the press release.

Gateway Technical College Celebrates Its Second Round of CNC High School Boot Camp Graduates

Michael Reader

Ten Racine High School students successfully completed a 28-week CNC Boot Camp program at Gateway Technical College’s SC Johnson iMET Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. The completion ceremony took place on May 29, 2015. Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus was honored to be a part of the ceremony.

This is the second year during which high school seniors were able to attend a rigorous program that combines regular high school classes with college accredited CNC courses and on-the-job training and mentoring.

A new crop of eager high school seniors is getting ready to begin the 2015-2016 school year Youth CNC Boot Camp on July 13, 2015. For the first time, this program will be offered in three counties within the Gateway district: Racine, Kenosha and Walworth. Information is available by contacting Rick Lofy.

Precision Plus is deeply vested in the Gateway CNC Boot Camp program—especially in its Walworth County, Elkhorn campus. Recently, the company made a $50,000 donation to assist with equipment purchase for the new Elkhorn Campus Manufacturing Center. Barry Butters has also provided guidance to graduating students by sharing the soft skills necessary for seeking a job, and by conducting mock interviews with the graduates. Recently, on May 22nd, he also spoke to Gateway’s student success staff at the Elkhorn Campus to review the partnerships that exist with local manufacturers.

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

Youth CNC Boot Camp Opens at Elkhorn Gateway Technical College in July of 2015

Michael Reader

Exciting career educational opportunities are coming to Elkhorn, Wisconsin in Walworth County with the launch of Gateway Technical College (GTC)’s Youth CNC Boot Camp Program at their Elkhorn Campus, which is scheduled for July 13, 2015.

This is a great opportunity for high school senior students who are at least 17 years old at the beginning of the 2015/2016 school year. There is no cost for the program for students residing in Walworth, Racine or Kenosha counties in Wisconsin. Applications must be received no later than May 1, 2015. Two information sessions are scheduled for March 11th and 25th.

According to GTC’s Deborah Davidson, V.P. Workforce & Economic Development Division, the institution has worked with local employers to “develop, design and deliver” a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine Operator Boot Camp, based on the needs of employers—who are integral to the success of the program.

The CNC Boot Camp begins with in-class instruction, followed by lab time, and culminating with students operating CNC machine equipment like that found in industry. “The curriculum includes courses such as applied mathematics, blueprint reading, machine shop safety, precision measurement and CNC production runs,” explained Ms. Davidson in a video about the program, recorded when it first launched in Racine in 2013.

The first six weeks are spent in the classroom and end before Labor Day. Then, during the school year, students attend regular classes in the morning, and then go to GTC’s Elkhorn Campus CNC Lab from 12:30 until 4:30 in the afternoon.

The youth/high school program is exactly the same as GTC’s Adult CNC Program, but it has been designed to work with the students’ school schedule.  An adult CNC Boot Camp has also been planned for the Elkhorn facility, with details to come.

On February 24, 2015, Deborah Davidson, sent the following informational email:

Dear Walworth County Friends,

In an effort to expand programming opportunities in the Walworth community Gateway Technical College and our partners at the Job Center, WECDA, local businesses and schools met to discuss the inclusion of students in Walworth County to participate in the CNC Operator High School Boot Camp. Piloted in Racine in 2013 and offered again in 2014, we are pleased to open up the programming to both Walworth County and Kenosha County in the summer of 2015.

 In an effort to eliminate transportation barriers for high school student participants, and based on input from Walworth County employers and school administrators Gateway will offer a High School CNC Boot Camp at the Elkhorn Campus beginning in July 2015! Boasting a 95% job placement rate from our 20+ adult Boot Camps, we are convinced that this program will meet the needs of area employers.

While there is much work to do to make this Boot Camp a reality; we are confident that by offering this in Walworth County we are providing students with access to innovative programming that leads to great manufacturing careers. These students will serve as an employment pipeline while building a strong foundation for their future.

Please help us spread the word to the parents and students by inviting them to attend one of the following information sessions:

 Wednesday, March 11th at 5:30pm and Wednesday, March 25th at 5:30 p.m.                                                                                                                                            

 Walworth County Job Center
Gateway Technical College 
Elkhorn Campus
South Building
400 County Rd H
Elkhorn WI 53121

If you are an employer, please consider serving as a mentor/worksite sponsor for these students as they go through the training and the internship. We are delighted with the outreach we have experienced to date but it will take all of us to make this program a success.

Precision Plus joins other businesses, organizations and the community in welcoming GTC’s Youth CNC Boot Camp to Elkhorn.

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.

The Last Two School Visits by Precision Plus During Academic Year 2013-2014 Were a True Testament to the Spirit of Collaboration

Michael Reader

During the 2013-2014 school year, Precision Plus has made a concerted effort to visit as many area schools as we possibly could. Neither Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, nor Mike Reader, Precision Plus’ President, allowed snow or sleet, extremely cold temperatures, rain, or heat stop them from making themselves available for meetings, events, or to speak to a class full of students about manufacturing.

Butters explains to a student how a part is machined

The last two visits of the year were to the Real School in Racine, Wisconsin on their Career Day, and to Burlington Area High School to speak to students in Casey Miller’s advanced metals and pre-engineering classes. Both schools had invited Precision Plus to come to their facilities.

Butters demonstrates how the PartMaker software is used at Precision Plus

But, how did they know about Precision Plus and their efforts to close the manufacturing skills gap? These schools made use of a common resource: Inspire Wisconsin, powered by Career Cruising.

Inspire Wisconsin—the Pathway from Talent to Careers—has a distinct mission:

Inspire Wisconsin’s mission is to develop and disseminate an organized, integrated community-development platform for life-long career planning and learning which creates bridges between employers, educators and students and connects students and adult job seekers with work-based learning experiences and job opportunities.

By bringing all parties to the table–employers, educators, students, parents and job seekers, Inspire Wisconsin offers an opportunity for maximizing careers and talents. Its leadership says it all: respected individuals from education, industry, and government, who understand the importance of a highly skilled and educated workforce.

Finally, Career Cruising, developers of “The world’s most engaging and inspiring career learning program” makes it all possible. By integrating with Inspire Wisconsin, their tool can be used by Wisconsin schools. Their interactive program helps “people of ages achieve their full potential in school, career and life,” and provides an arena for matching needs with initiatives, and talent with careers.

And that is how, the last two visits of academic year 2013-2014 came to be. There were a direct result of separate entities working together: Inspire Wisconsin, Career Cruising, the schools, and Precision Plus No shots in the dark here. Instead, targeted, skilled shots that hit the bulls-eye.

Precision Plus looks forward to a great 2014-2015 year!

The M7 Continue to Drive Economic Growth Through Its ‘Choose Milwaukee’ Initiatives

Michael Reader

Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha Counties came together in 2005 in order to create a regional cooperative economic development platform with the sole mission to attract, retain and grow diverse business and talent in southeastern Wisconsin.  This initiative is known as  Milwaukee7’s ‘Choose Milwaukee‘.

In the 8 years since its launch, this collaborative initiative has been credited with bringing 10,000 jobs to the region with over $500 million in payroll and over $700 million in capital investment. According to Milwaukee Business News, “The M7 has also leveraged millions of dollars in federal earmarks, state assistance and other municipal investments for business projects.”

This year’s Milwaukee7 Council meeting took place on November 5, 2013, at the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) and featured the following keynote speakers on current initiatives:

  • Paul Byrne of Modine Manufacturing who spoke about exports;
  •  Julia Taylor of the Greater Milwaukee Committee whose subject was ingenuity and entrepreneurship;
  • David Mitchell of Monarch Corp., who spoke about manufacturing career awareness and training programs; and
  • Giacomo Fallucca of Palermo Villa and FaB Milwaukee, who promoted food and beverage manufacturing.

The M7 has published a detailed program outlining the topics covered during the council meeting.   Their next meeting is scheduled for February 2014 in Racine County.