Recently eight students and one adult were provided free college summer classes in solid modeling (CAD), print reading, and machining via a collaboration between Mid-State and CWIMMA (Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturers Alliance) and in partnership with Hastreiter Industries, Marten Machining, Pointe Precision and Steel King. Dubbed “Metal Mania”, the eight-week program at Mid-State Technical College gave the individuals exposure to the machine tool industry and entry level skills. A majority of the group have now enrolled in Mid-State’s Machine Tool Program, or plan to once they graduate high school.
The issue of workforce development faced by our communities is two fold. First, for businesses, such advanced manufacturers, it is very difficult to find talent. Second, many individuals do not know what fields actually interest them; 20-50% of students enter college with "undecided" majors and approximately 75% of students change their major at least once (Gordan 1995). Helping solve this challenge is relatively straight forward: give students (and adults) exposure to new careers and industries because you cannot be interested in something you do not know exists. For this reason, educational institutions, organizations and corporations are creatively exploring how to reach people and introduce them to opportunities within industries they may not know to consider. Sometimes such opportunities are focused on elementary schools such as a STEM Day Camp with 3D printing and 5 axis machining, or in this case providing students with a formal education opportunity.
To achieve the success of Metal Mania, CWIMMA itself paid for half of each student’s tuition while local CWIMMA members such as Hastreiter Industries, Marten Machining, Pointe Precision and Steel King paid for the other half. Next summer, Metal Mania will be offered again, plus a level two program for students that are still in high school or other adults that wish to continue expanding their professional skills within the machine tool industry.