|MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today announced the award of $440,000 in Technical Education Equipment Grants to 15 school districts to help the districts purchase high tech equipment and train as many as 2,800 students each year for careers in advanced manufacturing.
“Technical education develops the workforce skills that are critical for Wisconsin’s growing manufacturing sector and thriving economy,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “From plasma tables to robotic arms, these Fast Forward educational equipment grants help provide our kids the tools, resources, and training to be successful and career-ready across Wisconsin.”
The Technical Education Equipment funding is part of DWD’s Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative to help employers meet immediate and future workforce needs. To qualify, a school district must provide matching funds at rate of two to one. With this latest round of grants, the combined state and local funding for tech ed equipment exceeds $1.3 million.
The grants help schools equip Fabrication Labs with CNC (computer numerical control) augers, lathes, mills, routers, and water jet cutters; also, robotic arms and PLC (programmable logic control) computers to operate them and other machines. The list of items for school Fab Labs includes 3D metal printers and an array of welding equipment.
“All of this high-tech hardware represents a major investment in eager and enthusiastic students who are our workforce of tomorrow,” said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. “With this added equipment, we’re excited to support this next generation of workers as they prepare for rewarding careers in advanced manufacturing. The companies they work for, the communities they live in and the whole state will reap benefits from the skills they learn through early access to this equipment.”
Job opportunities in Wisconsin’s advanced manufacturing sector continue to grow across the board. According to employment projections by DWD’s Bureau of Workforce Information and Technical Supports, welders are in great demand with openings of 1,800 a year projected through 2028. The starting annual salary for welders is $32,240, increasing to $58,260 for senior welders with the most experience.
Other top occupations include CNC programmers, starting at $35,540 a year and nearly double for the most experienced, $69,800. Also in great demand are production supervisors, starting at nearly $37,600 and increasing to almost $88,000 a year for the most experienced.
In this latest round of grants, the school districts, their awards, and new equipment are:
Arrowhead Union High School District – DWD issued a grant of $50,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a brake press and CNC lathe, allowing the district to improve training for careers in engineering and manufacturing to the benefit of an estimated 700 students and area employers in need of their skills.
Augusta Area School District – DWD issued a grant of $50,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a robotic arm for small parts sorting and assembly, putting 50 to 75 students each year on track to earn certifications in smart automation.
Bowler School District – DWD issued a grant of $50,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of multi-process welding tools; several different types of lathes; a plasma table for metal cutting; and other fabrication equipment for its Panther Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Academy. In addition to meeting the needs of local manufacturers, the school district now can launch several partnerships with Northcentral Technical College for dual credits and technical diplomas and equip a new Metals Lab.
Delavan-Darien School District – DWD issued a grant of $31,535.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a CNC mill and water jet cutter, allowing 250 students per year training in the machining pathway curriculum.
Fort Atkinson School District – DWD issued a grant of $18,940.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of CNC and manual milling equipment and multiple lathes, allowing more than 300 students to learn new skills on the latest equipment during the school year.
Lodi School District – DWD issued a grant of $5,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a CNC router, accessories, and materials to expand its Fabrication Lab, allowing “Fab Lab” training for 200 students each year.
Luxemburg-Casco School District – DWD issued a grant of $25,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a robotic arm to expand the district’s Fab Lab curriculum and let 80 to 100 students learn new skills using it with CNC and injection molding machines.
Mosinee School District – DWD issued a grant of $50,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a multipurpose shear and CNC equipment, replacing those beyond repair in the metals shop, improving training for 225 students per year.
Nekoosa – DWD issued a grant of $34,870.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of certification kits for precision measuring instruments; battery starting and charging; multimeter; and mechanical and electronic torque certifications, all to improve training for 100 students each year.
Seymour Community School District – DWD issued a grant of $50,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a CNC mill, lathes, and augers, allowing the high school to train more than 70 students per year and meet local and regional demand for CNC machinists.
Two Rivers Public School District – DWD issued a grant of $14,020.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of two laser engravers and a CNC router spindle upgrade, allowing the district to revamp traditional programs to train 150 to 200 students a year, giving them skills for jobs in demand at local industries.
Waterford Union High School District – DWD issued a grant of $15,160.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of mechatronics equipment – engineering construction kit, foundational robotics and UGV Lab, as well as electric car lab technology, to improve course offerings within the fields of smart manufacturing and autonomous vehicle technology. The new equipment will improve training for 60 to 100 students each year.
Wausau Area School District – DWD issued a grant of $31,460.
- Grant funds will supplement the purchase of technical training equipment that will allow the school district to teach Industry 4.0 curriculum. Up to 200 students per year will have the opportunity to use the new equipment and earn associate certifications.
West Bend School District Number 1 – DWD issued a grant of $6,700.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a new 3D printing platform that 75 to 100 students can use each year to gain skills and consider careers in manufacturing/automation and engineering.
Winneconne Community School District – DWD issued a grant of $10,000.
- Grant funds supplement the purchase of a robotic arm to showcase automation cells, advanced programming, and applied electronic components such as programmable logic controllers, equipment an estimated 30 to 40 students will use each year. The district is partnering with a local business, AMCOR, to encourage students to consider careers in advanced manufacturing.
Learn more about Wisconsin Fast Forward.
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin’s diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker’s Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.