Public has chance to explore careers, catch the latest
Eau Claire, WI – A group of high school students stood wide-eyed in amazement as a Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) student dropped a metal ball through a simple copper tube, with the ball seeming to defy gravity. It fell slowly through the tube as if moving in molasses, never touching the sides.
The demonstration of electromagnetic forces took place in the Nano Engineering Technology area of CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center last March, at the annual Manufacturing Show, which returns for a third year Thursday, March 6, from 3-7 p.m. at the 2320 Alpine Road, Eau Claire, facility.
That simple ball-and-tube trick will have to take a distant back seat to other amazing demonstrations this year:
CVTC now has equipment that uses streams of water under extremely high pressure to cut metal in precise detail, without the harmful effects heat-based metal cutting can leave behind. And if that causes eyebrows to raise, then causing jaws to drop in amazement will be a three-dimensional printer that doesn’t use ink. Instead, layer after layer, at high speed, it produces a 3-D plastic model of something drawn up with paper and numbers.
“It gives us an ability to replicate a concept or design, showing the working parts,” said CVTC Associate Dean of Manufacturing Jeff Sullivan. “The printers are being used a lot in the medical field.”
New Machine Tool program equipment that will be on display is capable of speeds up to 12,000 rpm. “The purpose of the high speed is higher accuracy and tighter tolerances,” Sullivan said.
And the purpose of students working on such a machine is to prepare them for the kind of equipment being used in the industry today – and the machine tool industry is very strong in the Chippewa Valley.
Welcome to the world of modern manufacturing. People who still picture manufacturing as taking place in dark, dingy places, with low-skilled workers doing simple repetitive work, will quickly have their minds changed through a tour of the CVTC facilities. Conversations with representatives of the many private manufacturing companies that will take part in the show should also give a fresh perspective.
Dispelling myths about the industry and showcasing what’s happening in the Chippewa Valley is what the CVTC Manufacturing Show is all about.
“The entire show will present a good overview of manufacturing careers in western Wisconsin,” said CVTC Vice President of Instruction Roger Stanford. “We have a great diversity of manufacturing companies in this area, many of them producing products that are getting attention worldwide. Attendees can learn more about these companies at the Manufacturing Show and how CVTC prepares workers for lucrative careers in manufacturing.”
About 20 manufacturing companies will have displays about their role in their industries and in the Chippewa Valley economy, and will use the opportunity to recruit new workers as well. Joining those companies will be representatives of CVTC’s manufacturing programs: Electromechanical Technology, Industrial Mechanic, Industrial Mechanical Technician, Machine Tooling Technics, Welding and Welding Fabrication. Some of the physical science programs, such as Nano Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technologist and Industrial Engineering Technician will also be involved.
Student work in these programs should also amaze everyone attending the show. As part of regular course work, students in programs have constructed and programmed robotic equipment. Their class projects to make robots to do fun things like play a guitar, make a golf putt, or reset bowling pins prepare them to design the equipment to keep real manufacturing plants operating.
Area high school students will be heavily involved in this year’s show. Back again will be the Junkyard Battle, in which high school welding students will compete with their creations made of scrap metal. Last year, they made metal sculptures of their school mascots. There will be several more competitions this year.
“Each of our departments is going to be part of a high school competition,” Sullivan said.
Machine Tool students will compete in the Amazing Maze, creating complicated mazes in competition for the best design. Engineering students will use computer-aided design programs to draw up plans for devices. The top design will be reproduced on the 3D printer.
In the Electromechanical area, students will create automated robots to work through a maze without human intervention. The Industrial Mechanics program is working on a competition involving development of miniature cannons.
“We are reaching out to our K-12 school district partners to develop agreements and programs that expose younger students to manufacturing and prepare high school students for entry into CVTC’s manufacturing programs,” Sullivan.
The event has been well-attended by the general public since its inception, and area school districts take advantage by using it as an educational experience for students, who arrive by school bus from all around the surrounding area. Some parents also bring their children who are starting to think about careers.
But there’s plenty for everyone to do, like trying out simulators, watching robotic welders in action, learning about what local manufacturers are producing and checking out the creativity of students engaged in competitions.
The CVTC Manufacturing Show is an eye-opening experience, for those fascinated by technology and those wanting to learn more about modern manufacturing.
Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.
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