The School District of New Berlin has been awarded a $50,000 Wisconsin Fast Forward Advanced Manufacturing Technical Education Equipment Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
The funds, along with matching funds from district partners, will be used for equipment for the district’s “How Machine’s Work” course, including tabletop mechatronics units, vacuum thermoformers and parts, software, stock materials and more.
“How Machines Work” allows students to produce a variety of products on a variety of different machines aligned to high-demand manufacturing processes. The course will also cover how advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 is affecting the manufacturing industry, and students will have the opportunity to pursue one or more Manufacturing Skill Standard Council certifications.
“The SDNB is committed to ensuring students understand a wide variety of opportunities available in manufacturing to support current and future labor market demand,” SDNB Superintendent Joe Garza said. “Our district understands the role manufacturing plays in Wisconsin’s workforce development and the new skills required to be successful, and this Wisconsin Fast Forward grant will help us teach those skills and their importance to our students.”
The investment Foxconn is making in the region and other industry factors is going to permanently impact manufacturing in Wisconsin and other markets. The SDNB participated in the Milwaukee 7 Industry 4.0 committee this past year. The “Making Machines Work” course design was developed through that committee’s research and recommendations.
Following the completion of units in traditional and advanced manufacturing, students will learn about connected systems and the way the Industrial Internet of Things and blockchain is used to connect entire supply chains, as well as how structured and unstructured data can be used to inform business processes and augment human resources. This course is relevant to students with a wide variety of career interests and attracted 70 students in its first year.
The technical equipment campaign to support the project launched last fall at the district’s annual Partnership Breakfast where Bill Berrien, CEO of Pindel Global Precision, announced a lead gift with a 1:1 matching grant for private donations to the campaign. The following New Berlin companies have since pledged financial support to the project: Stanek Tool, Dynatect Manufacturing, Felss Rotaform and Schoenek Containers.
The National Fluid Power Association awarded an additional $24,000 grant to support the project. Mary Baer, retired vice president of the Waukesha Community Business Alliance, also supported the campaign with a personal donation.
“We remain committed to aligning our programming to support student interests and projected workforce needs,” Garza added. “Community support of our efforts is critical to sustaining these programs in the SDNB. We are so thankful for all of those willing to step forward to help. Without their support, this project and the amazing opportunities it will provide for our students would not be possible.”
A total of $1 million was awarded to 35 school districts across Wisconsin for advanced manufacturing initiatives. Twelve districts, including the SDNB, received the maximum $50,000 amount.
"This grant enables school districts to update existing educational offerings, add new classes and increase capacity of career and technical education courses," DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. "By supporting students learning high-demand technical skills while still in high school, Wisconsin supports an accelerated future workforce."
The Wisconsin Fast Forward program encourages increased collaboration between Wisconsin’s workforce, employers, local or regional economic development organizations, workforce development boards, postsecondary institutions and private training providers to develop and execute business-led training programs.
This is the second time in the last 3 ½ years the SDNB has earned a WFF grant; it was awarded $100,000 in 2015 and used those funds to create on-site programs in nursing, informational technology and manufacturing.