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Grants Help CVTC Bring Manufacturing Technology to High Schools

Date: 12.05.2017

Chippewa Valley Technical College is forming new partnerships with K-12 school district to lead students to lucrative careers in manufacturing.  A Smart Manufacturing and Resources for Transforming the Future (SMART Future) grant from the National Science foundation, as well as a grant from 3M to CVTC Foundation, Inc., will enable CVTC to bring high technology and faculty expertise to enhance technical education at the schools.

The nearly $900,000 SMART grant will enable Menomonie, Durand, Owen-Withee and Greenwood high schools to benefit from instruction  through CVTC’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab starting this school year.  The lab will have expanded capacity, incorporating industrial automation and networking principles into the high school curriculum.  Students will be able to earn industry-recognized credentials before they graduate.  The grant also called for establishing robotics clubs in the member high schools.

“This grant provides a tremendous opportunity for more young people to learn about how automation, programming, and networking are used in modern industrial settings,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “By developing skills in these areas, students can get a jump start on a fabulous career, which will, in turn, meet the workforce needs of businesses.”

A $133,200 grant from 3M to Chippewa Valley Technical College Foundation, Inc., will allow CVTC to partner with Altoona, Durand, Eau Claire Area and Menomonie high schools to build career pathways in manufacturing.

With the grant, CVTC will purchase flexible manufacturing learning platforms to be used in the high schools and will offer professional development workshops for teachers so they can make the best use of the equipment.  CVTC will partner with automation technology manufacturer Festo for the project.  The grant will also help develop career mentor partnerships, internships and career exploration opportunities with area manufacturing businesses.  The grant is part of an overall effort by 3M to create a pool of skilled technicians in the region.

“3M has enjoyed a very collaborative relationship with CVTC,” said 3M Menomonie Plant Manager Tom Harris.  “And this grant will address a very real need for current and future employers in the Chippewa Valley.  This program will not only provide the skills needed for students to apply for well-paying jobs, but to also position themselves for future career advancement in high-tech manufacturing.”

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