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Scholarship Provides Educational Opportunity for High-Demand Trade

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Machine Tool Operation Instructor Paul Kalin (far left) said his program has a 100 percent placement rate for the last four years. Kalin’s current students include (from left): Robert Mattson, Cody Marincel, Tyler Krone, Chase Turner, and Tim Roguski.

Despite hard economic times in some trades, the machine tool industry is projected to grow in the region, offering high-paying jobs to skilled workers.  The problem?  There simply aren’t enough qualified individuals to fill the positions.

 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s machine tool operation program has the training required for many of the open positions in the region, and now C.G. Bretting Manufacturing has stepped up to help prospective students make education a reality.

 “We’ve received a $10,500 endowed scholarship for high school students entering the machine tool operation program,” said Deb Ellefson, college advancement associate at WITC-Ashland.  “That means we’ll be able award a $500 scholarship this spring for a student starting in fall.  It is extremely rewarding to receive this gift from Bretting Manufacturing during a time when students need financial support more than ever before.”

 The $500 scholarship is primarily aimed at high school students in the region, and applications will be available online March 1 and at high schools in the region.

 The need for a scholarship was identified through the program’s advisory committee, according to machine tool operation instructor Paul Kalin. 

 “We wanted to be able to express the need for good machinists in the area – Bretting Manufacturing is definitely willing to do that,” Kalin said.  “It’s a nice thing for parents and students to hear there’s a company that’s willing to support education.”

 Kalin is quick to point out that many of the businesses represented on the advisory committee are also generous, from donating used equipment to materials to their time. In fact, the advisory committee offers guidance regarding the curriculum of the program and helps Kalin identify equipment needs, including the recent purchase of a Haas VF1 Vertical machining center.

 “We train our students to use the same equipment they’ll be using out in the workforce.  Our advisory committee helps to make sure our students are fully prepared for the workforce once they graduate,” Kalin said. 

 The MTO program is one of a handful of WITC programs that can boost a 100 percent placement rate for graduates.  In fact, three of Kalin’s current students already have jobs lined up for spring.  “That simply highlights the need for workers in this region,” Kalin said.  “Employers are trying to scoop up the highest qualified students before they even get their diploma.”