EAU CLAIRE – Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) has been awarded a three-year grant of nearly $800,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for development of a mobile manufacturing training laboratory to reach out to students in rural school districts and to help close the manufacturing skills gap.
The goals of the project are to prepare and recruit students into manufacturing careers, provide students with increased opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, and provide more trained workers for manufacturers.
With the grant funds, CVTC will develop a mobile manufacturing training laboratory in partnership with Realityworks, an Eau Claire company that develops learning products that provide real-world simulations. Among the company’s products are a welding simulator and the RealCare Baby infant care simulator.
Realityworks will work with CVTC to develop a portion of the mobile laboratory equipment and curriculum. Manufacturing program faculty at CVTC will develop simulation training curriculum for use in high schools. The mobile laboratory will then be taken to the rural school districts to provide hands-on learning for students and professional development for teachers. Students will be able to complete manufacturing skills training while still in high school, earning college credit, saving them money, and helping them transition into the workforce earlier. That will help area manufacturers in their search for skilled labor.
The school districts of Alma Center-Lincoln, Eleva-Strum, Greenwood, Neillsville and Owen-Withee have partnered with CVTC for the initial integration of the curriculum into their high schools, but all schools in CVTC’s 11-county district could ultimately benefit.
Several CVTC programs will be involved in the development of the project, including Machine Tooling Technics, Welding and Electromechanical Technology. The mobile lab curriculum will include machining, welding, automation, precision measurement, applied mathematics and engineering design.
NSP has awarded CVTC $198,005 for the project, effective August 1. Contingent on the availability of funds, NSF expects to continue to fund the project with awards of $299,735 in 2014 and $299,558 in 2015 for a total grant of $797,298.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for CVTC to reach out to underserved students in the district, and to help manufacturers find the skilled workers they need. We’re going to take the advanced training right to the students in the rural school districts, who will be able to earn college credits and develop the skills they need to succeed,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker.
“We are very pleased to be working with Realityworks on this project. They are experts in creation of simulation technology and will also work with our outstanding manufacturing faculty to develop the curriculum to go with the laboratory. This is an exciting partnership that will benefit students and manufacturers in the CVTC district,” Barker continued.
Development of the mobile laboratory will begin this fall with the first visits to school districts expected in the 2014-2015 school year.
Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.