For the Rapids City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Mid-State celebrated the achievements of its first summer Metal Mania graduates on the college’s Wisconsin Rapids campus Aug. 8.
The new eight-week program allowed those interested in a career as a machinist to take courses in machine tool, print reading, and solid modeling, and receive eight transferable college credits.
“Metal Mania is helping students discover a passion for the high-demand machine tool field, and we are pleased to have such enthusiastic partners to help us deliver it,” said Bobbi Damrow, Mid-State’s vice president of workforce development and community relations. “It is a rewarding and challenging field that offers a well-paying career in our local area.”
Eight high school students and one adult participated and completed the program, with most now signaling their intention to enroll in the Machine Tool Technician program at Mid-State. This is good news to Mid-State and its partnering sponsors of the innovative workforce project designed to get the word out about the high demand for skilled machine tool technicians in central Wisconsin.
One Metal Mania graduate, Olivia Helminiak, learned of the program from Alan Marten, president of Marten Machining, where she is a student worker in the quality department. Helminiak had originally planned to study engineering at a four-year college after completing her upcoming senior year at Stevens Point Area High School. “Metal Mania changed my mind,” she said. “I liked the hands-on learning in the shop so much that I’ve decided to get my degree in machine tool first.”
Approximately 1,300 machinists are still needed in central Wisconsin in the next year, according to Derek Heikkinen, business services director at North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and CWIMMA representative. “We are always working on new approaches like this grassroots feeder program to help fill the pipeline,” Heikkinen said. “We’re excited to see it succeed and look forward to offering it again next year along with a level 2 program for those who are looking to advance their skills.”