Investing in the youth of the community
Metalcraft of Mayville donates about $250K worth of equipment to the West Bend high schools

By ALEX BELD - Daily News

Oct. 5, 2017

Technology Education teacher Jacob Gitter, left, talks with CEO of Metalcraft Martin Gallun as he watches West Bend West senior Sedric Gilbert operate a robotic weld cell Wednesday afternoon at the West Bend high schools.
John Ehlke/Daily News

Earlier in the year, Metalcraft of Mayville donated about $250,000 of equipment to the West Bend high schools to be used in technical education courses.

The facilitator of this donation was LAB Midwest, a company that helps schools and manufacturing businesses come together to get industrial technology in the hands of students. Representatives from both companies visited the technical education classroom Tuesday during one of the manufacturing classes.

LAB Midwest President Matt Kirchner said the number one influencer on the selection of a job is exposure in middle school and high school. “Our job is really, how do we inspire young people,” he added.

In some cases, schools will go through the organization to purchase equipment through grants or as part of the budget, and in others a company like Metalcraft will buy it and donate it.

Metalcraft President Randy Gloede said part of their mission statement is to help improve the community through such donations. He explained the company hopes to create talent in the community.

Ethan Boylen, left, and West Bend West senior Brandon Dahlke watch one of the donated machines from Metalcraft be operated Wednesday afternoon at the West Bend high schools. Metalcraft in Mayville donated a quarter of a million dollars worth of equipment to the high schools.
John Ehlke/Daily News

In response to the donation, technical education teacher Jacob Gitter is working to developing a new course and to provide students with the opportunity to earn more certifications before graduation.

“Anything worthwhile in life is a win-win,” Gloede said. He explained every company is looking for talent and this donation will give students a shot at gaining experience, a skill set and problem solving skills so they can graduate and earn a “good wage early in life” in their own community.

Though students are already working with the robots and other equipment donated by Metalcraft, some won’t have the chance to experience the new curriculum, like East High School senior Jon Habersetzer.

Habersetzer said they’re just getting beneath the surface in what they can do with the robots, but the experience could make it easier for him to learn new programs in the future.

Students are already learning the programming language used by the robots and are able to automate the manufacturing of items like clay pigeons.

Gitter explained to visitors from the two companies that the class gets experience with coming up with products, creating a business plan, selling the items and filling orders. He added “It gives them the pressure.”

Last year the class had $10,000 in gross revenue from the sales of products like lawn art and decorative flags.

Later in the year the students may have a chance to see the scale of manufacturing done at Metalcraft during a field trip, which Gitter and Gloede discussed while Gloede was visiting. While there the students would see 75 robotic arms at work, like the ones found in their classroom.