Metal works for MPTC students


Aug. 28, 2015

Levi VandenBerg of Richfield works on a welding project at Moraine Park Technical College Thursday evening in Slinger.
Photo by John Ehlke

JACKSON — It was a risk, but one that paid off for Moraine Park Technical College in the nearly two years since it opened its 10,000-square-foot Regional Center in Jackson.

Moraine Park Regional Center, N173 W21150 Northwest Passage Way, offers students hands-on learning with state-of-the-art equipment through a year-long program in welding.

“Buying all new equipment and machinery for the center was expensive, but it has been worth it,” Steve Henderleiter, welding and fabrication instructor for MPTC said on a busy Thursday night at the center. “Right now, I have the maximum number of students that I can have. We have 18 students.”

Henderleiter said the welding program is popular, with its graduates in high demand to fill good-paying jobs.

Most of the 18 students in the program have day jobs, so classes for the welding program are held at the center in the evening, Henderleiter said.

 Levi VandenBerg of Richfield walks around a structure Thursday evening he created at Moraine Park Technical College in Jackson. VandenBerg intends to use it as a dock for fishing.    
Photo by John Ehlke

Nineteen-year-old Levi Vandenberg, a 2014 graduate of Germantown High School, works 10-hour days four days a week and then spends an additional four to five hours in welding classes at the center three nights a week.

Although employed in a welding job already, Vandenberg said having that technical diploma he will earn when he completes the welding program, will give him a “step ahead,” in the job market.

“I have learned a ton here,” Vandenberg said during a break in classes Thursday night. “I love working on the machines here. They are awesome.”

Vandenberg said he discovered a love for working with machines as a kid.

“I was lucky. My dad had a shop and we would work on hot rods together,” Vandenberg said.

His advice for students in middle and high school is to “try things, experiment with shop classes.”

“Most of all, though, is don’t give up,” Vandenberg said.

Henderleiter said to prepare for the welding program, high schoolers should take courses in math, and metal, welding and machine shop classes.

“If a student likes art class, they’re going to like welding. It’s creative and it takes hand and eye coordination and dexterity, like painting,” Henderleiter said.

Good eyesight is also a plus, Henderleiter said.

“Visual acuity is important because if you do not have good vision, it’s going to be hard to be a good welder,” Henderleiter said.

The welding program offers students a mix of hands-on lessons with online learning.

“Students can access the online course work anytime and from anywhere,” Henderleiter said. Quizzes and homework submissions are both online.

A lot of time is spent in the welding lab, which has 18 welding booths, each with its own ventilation system, along with other equipment, all of which is computerized.

The program prepares students for jobs in production welding, finish welding and welding/fabrication.

For more information about the program, visit or call 920-924-3207 or 800-472-4554.

Reach reporter Linda McAlpine at