Innovation on the Road to Success

Between our technical certification program and contract training partnerships with area over-the-road carriers, our College’s Truck Driving program graduates around 800 professional drivers each year. Although the number is impressive and certainly makes an important dent in an ongoing driver shortage, it takes innovative program design and more efficient paths to completion in order to meet the needs of both individuals and regional employers.

Our faculty and staff in the Truck Driving program are always front and center when it comes to innovation. They’ve ushered in better access to training with extended evening and summer courses while bringing the latest technologies to our state-of-the-art J. J. Keller Transportation Center to attract students. Now, I’m delighted they’re bringing an even greater sense of urgency to growing the skilled labor pool for employers.

Students can now earn their Class A License in as little as eight weeks for around $2,300. What used to take 10 weeks to complete, drivers-in-training can finish sooner and save nearly $700 as well—all part of a fresh approach toward filling the demands of local companies. Most newly-hired drivers are making around $45,000 in their first year with bonuses, and drivers in the field for five years are earning more than $60,000. Family-friendly routes and spacious, high-tech tractors add to the allure of getting behind the wheel and making a good living.

With about 8,000 truck driving jobs available in Wisconsin, now is a great time to see the country while working independently on the road to success.

WBAY Channel 2 news coverage – Fox Valley Tech looking to close the truck driving gap

 

Global Connections

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Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with a group of visiting students and faculty from Argentina.  The group is engaged in a grant-funded program called 100,000 Strong in the Americas and consists of student entrepreneurs.  Also in our discussion and this program were FVTC students from a variety of programs interested in entrepreneurship.  These students and several of our staff will travel to Argentina for this program’s exchange experience in the coming months.

I always enjoy meeting and talking with visitors to FVTC from around the globe where we can share perspectives and explore topics from such an expanded view.  These young guests were just terrific – so eager to learn, engage, and experience all they could as part of this international learning opportunity.  And what an incredible experience for our own students!

Having met and interacted with thousands of international students and visitors over many years, I can certainly attest to the fact that we have far more in common with others in the world than differences.

Building on a Great Foundation

FVTC - CU Articulation 2Last week it was a pleasure to host a little signing ceremony at our S.J. Spanbauer Center in Oshkosh to celebrate a new 2 + 2 program partnership with Concordia University Wisconsin.  By 2 + 2 program, I’m referring to the combination of a 2-year associate in applied science (AAS) degree paired with 2 years of baccalaureate studies resulting in a bachelor of science (BS) degree.

In this case, the foundation for this new educational opportunity is our AAS degree program in Construction Management Technology.  Graduates from this very successful program will be able to transfer seamlessly into Concordia University’s newly developed bachelor’s degree in Construction and Trades Management.  And if an appropriate size cohort of students comes together, Concordia is positioned to offer their coursework right at the Spanbauer facility where the FVTC graduates completed their AAS degree.  What a great opportunity for those who wish to continue on to the bachelor’s level and for former graduates working in the area who may also take that next step.

The construction industry is in great need of skilled tradespeople in all areas including electrical, plumbing, framing, sheetmetal, etc., as well as project leaders, estimators, and construction managers.  Having educational programming at all levels available locally will go a long way in supporting the burgeoning needs of this industry.  We’re very pleased to partner with Concordia University in expanding these offerings.

If you know of anyone – a young person exploring career options, adults who want to enhance their skills, or an adult who is considering a career change, we have an upcoming opportunity to explore a wide range of trades and occupations in the construction industry – a Construction Trades Expo taking place on April 11th at the Appleton Campus.  Stop by to check this out!

 

Entrepreneurs – An Economic Force

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This is National Entrepreneurship Week, an annual designation that was congressionally chartered in 2006.  At that time, our congressional leaders recognized entrepreneurs as a key source of economic innovation throughout the history of our nation.  I certainly tip my hat to all of the entrepreneurs and small business owners across our region for all that they bring to the vitality of our communities!

I’m also very pleased to serve as the Board Chair for the National Association of Community Colleges for Entrepreneurship (NACCE – https://www.nacce.com).  Our member colleges all across North America are very committed to supporting both students and community members in exploring, launching or growing businesses in the communities we serve.  And as important, we are deeply engaged in continuing to develop as entrepreneurial colleges to maximize the programs, services and support we can offer our constituents.

Here’s to the entrepreneurial spirit in both business and education!  Is there an outstanding local entrepreneur you’d like to acknowledge this week?  Would love to hear about them.

Webelos Everywhere!

This coming Saturday, November 10, the Appleton Campus will be hosting about 400 Webelos and adult leaders – 4th and 5th grade Webelo Scouts from the area’s Gathering Waters district of the Bay-Lakes Council Boy Scouts of America.  It’s known as their Pin Day where these young people can earn Adventure Pins to work toward rank advancement in Scouting.

The kinds of pins typically offered at these events include “Adventures in Science,” “Fix It,” “First Responder,” “Game Design,” and others.  The older Boy Scouts will be involved in teaching many of these activities, providing a great leadership opportunity as well.

As both president of the College and currently the Council President for the Bay-Lakes Council, it is just great to see the wonderful opportunities to learn and grow being made available to the young people of the area.

Wautoma — a New College Town?

 

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Wautoma Regional Center

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… L to R: Tom Rheinheimer (Wautoma Area School District Superintendent), Tony Gonzalez (Board Chair), Jackie Weber (Foundation Board Chair), Chris Brown (Wautoma Regional Manager)

On September 18 a large gathering of community leaders, school district representatives, elected officials, and other partners joined us for a special dedication ceremony of the college’s new Wautoma Regional Center. This welcoming facility located adjacent to Wautoma High School brings fresh technologies and innovative learning spaces to a part of our district that we’ve been serving for 40 years; however, facility upgrades and expanded services to meet regional workforce demands and employment opportunities were needed.

A new industrial bay and health care lab, along with an expanded welding lab, were big hits by those who toured the center before and after a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony. The faculty and staff were literally gleaming when showing off their regional center, which also houses the Wautoma Area School District administrative office and a regional office for the Fox Valley Workforce Development Center.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the support for this project by the FVTC Foundation.  Fully half of the funding to make this center a reality came from the Foundation.  It was great to see Foundation Board Chair, Jackie Weber, side by side and cutting the ribbon with the Chair of our Board of Trustees, Tony Gonzalez.

What really struck me during the dedication ceremony of the 12,000-sqaure-foot facility was observing the enthusiasm on the faces of our speakers and those in attendance. It felt like a college town had emerged from the commitment of the people in attendance—one that is poised to support and complement the unique educational needs of the greater Waushara County area.