WCTC receives anonymous $1 million pledge
Money would support manufacturing center

By John Holman - Special to The Freeman

August 21, 2014

 The proposed Integrated Manufacturing Center at Waukesha County Technical College.
Submitted rendering

PEWAUKEE - Waukesha County Technical College announced Wednesday it has received an anonymous pledge of $1 million toward the construction of its Integrated Manufacturing Center, provided that the remainder is covered by private donors.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, advanced manufacturing is a high-growth industry. The lack of workers qualified to fill skilled positions is one reason why the IMC is so important to the school and the local manufacturing industry, said local officials.

“Having targeted and cooperative experiences through the IMC will develop students’ skills to a higher level and prepare them for the types of systems they will use in the region’s manufacturing companies,” said Suzanne Kelley, president of the Waukesha County Business Alliance, which is working closely with the WCTC Foundation to secure funds for the project.

The proposed IMC is planned to be 24,000 square feet.

“The Integrated Manufacturing Center’s additional space will allow for increased student capacity and growth in multiple program areas,” said WCTC Interim President Kaylen Betzig.

That space would be comprised of two automation systems technology laboratories, an integrated manufacturing and engineering laboratory, an industrial maintenance technician laboratory, two electronics laboratories, an electronics fabrication laboratory, a technology laboratory, an engineering lecture hall, an automation systems technology classroom, two engineering classrooms and two conference rooms.

The IMC will have flexible, automated work cells. The existing stand-alone systems could be integrated to provide students with a more comprehensive learning experience. The proposed center would be connected to the college’s existing industrial building and be home to several programs within the School of Applied Technologies.

The race against the clock has begun, with a looming Sept. 8 deadline - the day before the Wisconsin Technical College System Board’s bimonthly meeting.

The project would cost $4.5 million in total. According to Wisconsin’s limit on capital spending, WCTC may spend up to $1.5 million on the project.

That means WCTC has fewer than three weeks from the announcement to raise $2 million - an effort supported by local business leaders.

“Their vision to showcase a learning environment that mirrors real life manufacturing job applications is progressive and unique,” said DUECO, Inc. President and CEO Judie Taylor, who is also chair of the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s Manufacturing Executive Council. “We challenge all manufacturers to step forward to show their support through a donation.”

For more information, contact Michael Shiels, dean of the School of Applied Technologies, at 262-691-7823 or mshiels@wctc.edu.