Northwoods 8th grade students learn about manufacturing
By Jared Raney
Earlier this week, 600 8th grade students swarmed Nicolet College in Rhinelander. Kids from all over the Northwoods, a gathering of 11 area school districts, came to the tech school to learn about a very important Wisconsin industry.
There are more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin, making it the biggest employment sector in the state, and making Wisconsin one of the best states for job growth in that industry.
“We want to build a skilled workforce in the next few years—obviously we need to put out skilled workers—and Nicolet can partner with these manufacturers to make that happen.” said Kelly Anunson, dual-credit coordinator at Nicolet College who was in charge of the event. “Getting the word out to students at a young age about the careers that are available to them in manufacturing is really important. It’s not the old stigma of dirty factories… we want them to know that factories are high-tech, they are very clean, they have robotics, IT, engineering.”
It’s called the ‘Heavy Metal Tour,’ and Nicolet isn’t the only group involved in the project, which has been going on for the past four years.
“It’s a consortium put together by the Workforce Development Board, Midstate Technical College, Northcentral Technical College and Nicolet College. So we work together to offer this within all of our districts,” Anunson said. “It’s just a really important partnership, and the manufacturers work really hard to help us put this together. They donate a lot of time, they donate money to this, and it’s just a really great partnership that’s developed.”
As part of the Tour, kids get a chance to see two manufacturing facilities and the tech labs at Nicolet, doing hands-on activities and seeing manufacturing in action.
“There are so many career pathways that are involved in the dynamics of a manufacturing facility,” Anunson said. “They actually get to see everything that they do in those facilities, and then we have Nicolet tour guides with to help students see the connection between the career and the education.”
Heavy Metal Tour Consortium
Northstar Steel, Rhinelander
Northland Stainless, Tomahawk
Hometown Trolley, Crandon
Advanced Barrier Extrusions ABX, Rhinelander
Nimsgern Steel Corp., Minocqua
Superior Diesel, Rhinelander
Daigle Brothers, Tomahawk
James Williams Middle School, Rhinelander
Northland Pines Middle School