Careers, Technology on Display at Manufacturing Show

Monday, May 01, 2017

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 to prepare to build big engines? Hunter Sullivan of Chippewa Falls, a Chippewa Valley Technical College Machine Tooling Technics student, had some ideas for him at CVTC’s annual Manufacturing Show Thursday, March 2.

“He told me about their CNC (computerized numerical control) machines and the careers,” said Hill, who thinks he will eventually enroll at CVTC, but he is unsure of which program. “I haven’t looked at any other places.”

Introducing people like Hill to careers in manufacturing is a big part of CVTC’s Manufacturing Show, which drew about 1,600 people to CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center. Wonders of modern manufacturing were displayed and demonstrated in CVTC’s Automation Engineering Technology, Industrial Mechanical, Machine Tooling Technics and Welding/Welding Fabrication, as well as Manufacturing, Nano and Industrial Engineering programs.

About 40 manufacturing companies were also represented with display tables highlighting their products and job opportunities.

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.

Visitors at the Manufacturing Show were able to take part in hands-on activities like trying their hand at 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 son, Nathan. “He’s interested in coming here next year,” Frank said. “He’s working at a machine shop in Menomonie after school now. He saw this show was available and asked to come.”

“I really haven’t decided what program to take,” Nathan said. “But it will probably be something in the machining area. It’s making stuff. It’s hands-on.”

Dawn Schrankler and her husband brought their daughter, Kelsey, from Neillsville for the show. “We’re trying to get her interested in more of a selection,” said Schrankler. “She wants to be a veterinarian assistant, but we’re trying to broaden her horizons and open her eyes to other areas.”


But 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 back 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 all the program areas, other students were present to explain what they do, what they are learning, and the exciting opportunities available to them in manufacturing careers.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.

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