When I graduated from high school nearly 25 years ago, students’ schedules offered relatively little variation. It amazes me to see the number of options available to today’s kids, whether through programs at their schools or charter schools. The Appleton Area School District alone offers an astounding 14 charter schools designed to meet students’ needs, strengths and interests.
When it comes to engineering education, the New North has come a long way in a short time. When the NEW Manufacturing Alliance launched in 2006, Northeast Wisconsin had no four-year engineering programs in place. Today, both the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay offer programs, and Fox Valley Technical College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offer their own pathways.
Starting as young as 4-year-old kindergarten, children can begin a journey of STEM learning at Green Bay’s King Elementary School, which is dedicated to engineering education. Appleton’s Tesla Engineering Charter School at Appleton East High School partners with area employers such as Plexus to provide students a place to learn engineering and robotics.
My 10-year-old, who’s already declared his intentions of becoming an engineer, participated in a Tesla summer camp last summer and will attend another one this July. By the end of camp, he was asking me why the program couldn’t last longer than a week. I think it’s safe to say efforts to pique kids’ interest in engineering are working. Check out Nikki Kallio’s cover story beginning on page 8 to learn about the evolution of engineering education.
Speaking of education, the SkillsUSA program offers students a chance to compete, earn awards and build a foundation for a future career. Program leaders say the experience brings positive effects to students’ overall learning, helps them build soft skills and encourages them to pursue opportunities such as apprenticeships. Read MaryBeth Matzek’s story on page 16 to learn how SkillsUSA introduces participants to the many opportunities a manufacturing career offers.
Inefficiency in managing supplies can prove costly and cumbersome. Garry Moss of GKM Inc. developed the Wisconsin Export and Import Container Positioning Platform, which helps companies control container management and respond to rising intermodal transportation costs. School Specialty uses the system to reduce costs and eliminate inefficiencies. Read MaryBeth’s story on page 13 to learn how the tool also addresses truck driver shortages.