By Mark Gunderman, Communications Specialist, Chippewa Valley Technical College
Cole Hill knows what he wants to do in a future career.
“I want to build motors – V-8s, probably,” said the Colfax High School junior who spends time racing at the Red Cedar and Jim Falls tracks.
But just what does one study in preparation for building big engines? Hunter Sullivan of Chippewa Falls, a Chippewa Valley Technical College Machine Tooling Technics student, had some ideas for Hill at CVTC’s annual Manufacturing Show earlier this month.
“He told me about their CNC (computerized numerical control) machines and the careers,” said Hill, who thinks he will eventually enroll at CVTC, but hasn’t yet decided on a program. “I haven’t looked at any other places,” he added.
A big part of the Manufacturing Show is introducing people like Hill to potential careers. The show, which drew about 1,600 people to CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center, displayed and demonstrated some of the wonders of modern manufacturing that are part the school’s seven programs in that area.
Some 40 manufacturing companies were represented with display tables highlighting their products and job opportunitie
Both Like Working With Their Hands
Sullivan, a 2015 Chippewa Falls Senior High School graduate, connected with Hill as another young man who likes to work with his hands.
“I just like making things,” Sullivan said. “I took shop classes in high school with manual lathes and I thought that was pretty cool. But what I learn here is way more than they teach you in high school.”
Sullivan is already working in manufacturing, doing some part-time laser cutting work at Riverside Machine.
“I’m not doing CNC work, but hopefully when I finish school they will keep me on as a machinist,” he said.
Hands-on Activities Available
Manufacturing Show visitors were able to take part in hands-on activities like welding, building a tiny flashlight with the help of Manufacturing Engineering Technologist students, or playing with projects like a billiards game made by Automation Engineering Technology students.
“This is an opportunity to show off new technology,” said CVTC Dean of Manufacturing Jeff Sullivan. “The Manufacturing Show brings together alumni and people in the area, and shows off student projects. Our manufacturing partners come in and show the things they’re doing.”
Several area high schools sent busloads of students who also toured some area manufacturing companies prior to the show. Other high school students came on their own, or with their parents.
Tim Frank of Menomonie, a CVTC graduate himself, came with his wife and their son, Nathan
Home page photo: CVTC student Bradley Mueller, left, helps Nathan Frank, a Menomonie High School student, solder pieces together to make a miniature flashlight at the CVTC Manufacturing Show on March 2..
“He’s interested in coming here next year,” Tim Frank said of his son. “He’s working at a machine shop in Menomonie after school now. He saw this show was available and asked to come.”
Nathan Frank added that he hasn’t decided what program to take, but “it will probably be something in the machining area. It’s making stuff. It’s hands-on.”
Older Students Also Attended
Not all of the people attending the show to explore careers were high school students or even recent high school graduates. People looking for a change of careers found plenty of older CVTC students who followed a similar path.
“This program is fantastic,” said Casey Schellhorn, an Automation Engineering Technology student who graduated from River Falls High School in 2010. “I wanted more opportunity than I had working in food service. I was looking for something interesting and found this on the CVTC website.”
Schellhorn was stationed where he could explain to visitors how to play a miniature billiards game and also the pneumatics, electronics and sensors that made the game work. In each program area, other students were present to explain what they do, what they are learning, and the opportunities available to them in manufacturing careers.
Photos accompanying this article were provided by Chippewa Valley Technical College.