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focus Fox Valley Technical College



Coca-Cola looks to FVTC for supply chain solutions Page 4


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your future

Graduates find rewarding careers in printing and packaging Page 10


New high-tech training theatre for culinary arts Page 15


Focus is published bi-annually for the communities of Fox Valley Technical College. Director of College Marketing Barb Dreger EXECUTIVE EDITOR/Manager of MEDIA Relations Chris Jossart

6 What’s Now

Shaping the future workforce through partnerships with employers.

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A Century of Success with Apprenticeship Training Since 1912, Fox Valley Technical College hasn’t changed a bit in one key area: preparing the needs of the workforce no matter what the economy looks like.


Go to Print! Graduates are finding rewarding careers in printing and packaging.


Exclusive Designs Students have more options in the state’s only Interior Design program to earn the support of the National Kitchen & Bath Association.


in every issue


FVTC 2 Around A quick look at what’s making news at FVTC.


Focus on Workplace Training Coca-Cola Refreshments looks to FVTC for supply chain solutions.


Focus on the Entrepreneur Graduate Ross Treichel builds on the FVTC experience to open his own restaurant.


Focus on Alumni Q&A with Alan Zierler, a 1976 graduate of Fox Valley Technical College and current president and CEO of Capital Credit Union.


Focus on the Foundation The new high-tech Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre at Fox Valley Technical College will be the first of its kind in Wisconsin.



Focus on the Student Experience Roberto Hernandez explains the opportunities and challenges of managing a business. Also, for many mid- to late-career workers, losing a job can be debilitating. Bob Slavik, however, looked at his challenging situation differently.

ART DIRECTOR Amy Bjellos CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Casey Britten, Joan Neumahr, Amy Vander Stoep PHOTOGRAPHY Gary Brilowski, Gary Gawinski, Patrick Kelly

PRESIDENT Dr. Susan A. May Fox Valley Technical College 1825 N. Bluemound Dr. P.O. Box 2277 Appleton, WI 54912-2277 1-800-735-3882 TTY (hearing impaired) (920) 735-2569 (e-mail inquiries) Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, FVTC offers more than 200 associate degree, technical diploma and certificate programs, and instruction related to 18 apprenticeship trades, in addition to providing services to business and industry. Annually, the college serves about 50,000 people throughout its five-county district. Member of:

© 2011 Fox Valley Technical College. All rights reserved. Equal Opportunity Employer/Educator.

Greetings from the Lodes Family! Fox Valley Technical College has been part of our family through three generations over 50 years. Ed Lodes (deceased) started the family tradition in 1961 when he received his Accounting degree from the original FVTI campus in downtown Appleton. Pictured here are those of us who have followed in Ed’s footsteps. Front row, left to right: Ashley Schmitz (Criminal Justice/ Law Enforcement, 2009), Holly Schmitz (Associate Degree Nursing, current student), Cindy Gemza (Natural Resources Technician, 1994); Back row, left to right: Dean Lodes (IT – Programmer Analyst, 2003 and IT – Web Development & Design Specialist, 2004), Dave Schmitz (Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement, 1983), and Joe Gemza (Fire Protection Technician, 1994). Not pictured is Steve Schmitz (Truck Driving, 2007). Welcome to Fox Valley Technical College!

fvtc around Celebrating a Century of Knowledge That Works There’s good reason why Fox Valley Technical College has been the college of choice in this community for 100 years. Students get hands-on training for the workplace of today, whether it’s preparing for a new career or sharpening job skills. With over 200 programs to choose from, students can train for careers that are in demand – right here, right now. In 1912, continuation schools were established in the Fox Valley region to teach students the skills needed for jobs of the day: horseshoeing, dressmaking, construction, and baking. Since then, we’ve adapted to the changing needs of our community and new technology, while continuing to fulfill our college mission: giving students the skills employers are looking for as they enter the workforce. “Some things have fundamentally not changed about those very early beginnings,� says Fox Valley Technical College President Dr. Susan May. “It was driven by the needs of industry and employers. Our employer partnerships are as critical today as they were in the early 1900s; it was about preparing people for working in the community.�

My First Choice

Don’t just take our word for it. Our students, alumni, and community partners stepped up to answer the question, “Why did you choose Fox Valley Tech?�

“We place great value on Fox Valley Technical College,� says Jim Keller of the J. J. Keller Foundation. “It’s a great partnership and it has stood the test of time.� “Fox Valley Tech was the foundation for what my life is now,� says Pa Lee Moua, 2010’s FVTC Outstanding Alumni award winner and assistant dean of students for Multicultural Affairs at Lawrence University. “It was the right path for me.� “It’s pretty cool that there’s a place like FVTC, where what matters most is your determination,� says accounting alumna Theresa Cross. Alumnus Mike Fox, vice president and general manager of Time Warner Cable’s Northeast Wisconsin Division, chose FVTC because “it was local, well regarded, and affordable, and didn’t require four years to earn a reputable degree. It opened my eyes to a whole new world.�

For bonus content, including more success stories, an interactive timeline, and vintage photos & videos, visit

Early Years











News Briefs • Jonathan Gatzke, a student in the ElectroMechanical Technology program, was one of three state winners in the 2011 Wisconsin Technical College System Annual Video Competition. Gatzke placed third among more than 50 entries during the contest, which was designed to depict what the future holds for technical college graduates through a brief video.

View his video:

Jonathan Gatzke

• The Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation awarded a $9,975 grant to FVTC’s Horticulture Technician program for the implementation of a sustainable boilerdesigned heating system in one of the college’s greenhouses. • Mike Merbach, instructor in FVTC’s Electrical Apprenticeship department, was named Education Award winner by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development during its 2011 awards ceremony.

Top left: The use of training equipment has early roots at FVTC. Top and left: Today, state-of-theart technology propels the learning experience for FVTC students.

• The American Association of Community Colleges, with support from the National Mike Merbach Science Foundation, awarded FVTC a two-year MentorLinks: Advancing Technological Education Program grant for $20,000. The grant is designed to support the college’s growing Information Technology coursework. • The Student Life department at FVTC unveiled the new 1,500 square-foot Connections Coffee Café on the Appleton campus, which provides handson business experiences for students. Student fees funded the addition, which is helping the college accommodate increased enrollment. 

Connections Coffee Café

• Fox Valley Technical College has emerged as the state’s number one technical college in terms of total number of people served, according to data from the Wisconsin Technical College System. The college served nearly 53,000 people during the 2010-2011 academic year.










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Coca-Cola Refreshes its Supply Chain An American icon partners with FVTC for solutions.

Last year, the Supply Chain Planning team at Coca-Cola Refreshments (CCR) realized the 125 year-old worldwide soft drink provider faced a major challenge: Coca-Cola had just consolidated with its largest bottler into a single operating unit under one parent corporation. The result meant the company had to adapt to a leaner operation. The task was handed off to Michael Wasson, supply chain planning manager at CCR.

FVTC provides an expert platform to help us develop professionally, allowing all of our employees to come together and exchange ideas.

Michael Wasson

Coca-Cola Refreshments

management. CCR decided upon the APICS Production and Inventory Management certification program (CPIM) for the company’s new team. The goal was Coca-Cola Refreshments to get employees partners with FVTC. from around the U.S. certified in an That’s a lot like becoming a CPA in the efficient, cost-effective manner. After field of accounting.” considering numerous ideas, CCR chose In today’s lean workplace, all to take advantage of FVTC’s online employees must have the skills needed partnership with APICS. to be competitive. “For this reason, “Simply put, Fox Valley Technical CPIM certification has become an College is the endorsed online training important tool,” says Haberkorn. provider offered through APICS,” Wasson explained. “FVTC provides Leading the way in an expert platform to help us develop workplace training professionally, allowing all of our employees to come together and Fox Valley Technical College is a leader exchange ideas. Plus, its program is in business and leadership training in flexible enough to ensure that everyone, Wisconsin. “It’s all about the quality regardless of schedule or work location, of the instructors and the way we can stay on track.” meet the needs of our customers,” “Fox Valley Technical College’s states Dale Walker, director of online delivery format allows companies FVTC’s Business & Industry Services. to reduce training-related ancillary “Many of our customers, for example, expenses, such as travel, housing, serve on advisory boards to help us meals, and time away from the office,” anticipate the training needs of local explains Dominic J. Longo, director manufacturers.” of corporate services for APICS. If a company needs leadership “When supply chain and operations training, for example, FVTC works with management professionals are located them to develop the curriculum. “We across the country, as is the case with can hold classes at the client’s location Coca-Cola, or around the world, this is or at the college, whichever they an important benefit.” prefer,” says Walker. APICS and FVTC have had a strong Through its Business & Industry working relationship for many years. Services division, FVTC trains more In fact, the online version of APICS’ than 22,000 employees annually, CPIM program was developed in 2006 comprised of about 1,400 employers, by Anne Haberkorn, FVTC’s Dean of in a wide range of industries such as: Information Technology and Distance • Printing & Flexible Packaging Learning. • Insurance The partnership is proving to be a • Health success. “We are very proud that our • Banking college is now the exclusive provider • Transportation of asynchronous online learning for • Metal Fabrication APICS,” Haberkorn continues. “When • Defense our students take and pass all five • Consumer Products exams, they become CPIM certified. • Manufacturing, and more

The challenge was getting this enormous organization to function as one. “With this move, we now work with a large portfolio of brands with bottling companies located around the United States,” Wasson explains. “This includes energy drinks, vitamin waters, chilled beverages, juices, and teas. Each organization had their own way of doing things, and we needed to optimize our supply chain by having all our new associates speak the same language and do things the same way.” Coca-Cola Refreshments looked to the Association for Operations Management (APICS) to help them accomplish its goals. An international educational organization, APICS offers certification programs, training Learn more: tools, and networking opportunities in supply chain and operations


4 Fox Valley Technical College


Learn more:

Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola Refreshments

on workplace training


on the entrepreneur

Out of the Lab and Onto the Grill Graduate Ross Treichel uses the FVTC experience to open his own restaurant.

Six years ago, Fox Valley Technical College Marketing instructors Teri Stark, Sandy Plank, and Caethe Brockman recognized the need for a business lab on the Oshkosh campus. “Students in other programs have access to hands-on experiences like printing, engine repair shops, interior design studios, and culinary labs,” says Stark. “We felt it was important to give our business students the same kind of hands-on learning.” As experienced business professionals, Stark, Plank, and Brockman began their project with an extensive research process. “Through that process we determined that the Oshkosh campus really needed some type of convenient food service facility,” explains Stark.

The experience just started out as an internship, but I learned a lot about vendor relationships, product selection, and equipment.

Ross Treichel

Marketing graduate

“As a result, we launched the Fox XPress.” Fox XPress is a mobile, kioskstyle restaurant that is completely operated by students. “We felt the restaurant would serve as a learning lab that would offer practical, real-world experience to students in marketing, business management, entrepreneurship, accounting, and other related programs.” Marketing graduate Ross Treichel was one of the first student managers for Fox XPress. “I had worked as a cook and managed restaurants, so I thought I could help out,” Treichel recalls. “The experience just started out as an internship, but I learned a lot about

Marketing grad and entrepreneur Ross Treichel.

vendor relationships, product selection, and equipment. I learned many little things that can help you later in life.” Treichel credits FVTC with helping him fulfill a childhood dream of owning the Lakeside Grill in Minocqua, Wisconsin. “I first saw this restaurant when I was a small child vacationing with my family,” he says. “We’d been coming here for years, and I always dreamed about how neat it would be to own this place. So, when we saw it was up for sale last year, I called the realtor and made it happen.” Treichel is currently working hard to restore Lakeside Grill to the wonderful place he remembers as a child. “I am updating the menu, but it is hard,” he says. “We have such a diverse customer base and everyone has different tastes. We’ve worked at adding things that are better, newer.” Treichel is also planning to redo the kitchen and update the seating area and grounds while the restaurant is closed this winter. His hard work is paying off. Stark, along with her friends and family members, visited the Lakeside Grill this summer and gave Treichel rave reviews. “The fish was the best I’ve ever had,” laughs Stark. “However, when I asked Ross for his recipe, he said it was a professional secret and refused to give it to me!” Even as he focuses on success in Minocqua, Treichel maintains a vision for the future. “A longer term goal

for me personally is to open another restaurant in Oshkosh,” he says. “This all just goes to show that when you believe in yourself and have the right skills, other people will believe in you too.”

High Fives for High Profits! This year, Fox XPress celebrated its 5th anniversary during a special ceremony, which included faculty, students, alumni, and members of the media. Still owned and operated by FVTC students, the kiosk-style restaurant continues to experience success. During the last five years, Fox Xpress has: • Generated more than $85,000 in sales • Served as a profitable learning experience • Reinvested $5,500 in scholarships • Helped FVTC develop new relationships with area businesses • Helped many graduates land internships and jobs in businessrelated fields • Played a role in helping some students launch their own businesses


Learn more:

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what’s NOW >>

Well Advised

Shaping the future workforce through partnerships with employers. Fox Valley Technical College’s consistent 90% graduate job placement rate doesn’t happen by chance. The high job placement is the result of careful matching of graduates’ skills to employer needs. Employer advisory committees guide the curriculum for each FVTC occupational program, providing real-world business expertise that positions the college’s graduates for employment in their industries. Thanks to these critical partnerships, FVTC graduates hit the ground running in a 21st century workforce. Employer advisory committees have been part of FVTC’s entire 100-year history. Since 1912, committee members representing area business, health care, and manufacturing organizations have helped FVTC students in many ways. They have ensured that learners work with the latest equipment, study the most current curriculum, and gain experience through real-world internships, clinical placements, and cooperative learning activities. Chris Matheny, FVTC vice president of Instructional Services and chief academic officer, underscores the importance of this connection to business and industry. “We would be unable to fulfill our mission without the guidance of employer advisory committees,” he says. “Each of our partners, including business owners, managers, and employees, provide a unique perspective on the needs of their industries. They are partners that make sure our graduates have the necessary skills in today’s workforce.”

Our communities rely on Fox Valley Technical College to develop needed training programs.

Advisory committee member Greg Peterson, Chief Greg Peterson chief of police for Town of Grand Chute Police Department the Town of Grand Chute, has worked closely with FVTC for many years on the Criminal Justice advisory committee and now on the new Forensic Science advisory committee. “Our communities rely on Fox Valley Technical College to develop needed training programs,” he notes. “Right now, I’m on an advisory committee providing input to help shape the college’s new online Forensic Science program. This program really fills a need for area police departments. Solving crimes more quickly and accurately through forensic skills keeps our communities safer.” “In our business, there are always new trends and new equipment,” notes Jesse Kinzel of Kinzel Wood Products, an advisory committee member for the college’s Oshkoshbased Wood Manufacturing Technology program. “Our advisory committee recently shaped new curriculum on finish cabinetry.” Jesse understands the value of technical training. He and his brother, Gregg, both graduated from the Wood Manufacturing Technology program. To help guide FVTC’s 200-plus programs, the college engages a diverse group of business representatives on its employer advisory committees. “It’s important for a committee to have representation from large, medium, and small organizations,” notes Kim Winter, senior systems manager at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. and committee member for the Information Technology programs. “One of our challenges as a committee is how to stay ahead of what the industry will need. When I was in school, it was computer operations or computer programming. Today, graduates can go into application development, database management, Web development, system networking, security, and so much more.” “Our employer advisory committee members view their work here as an investment,” states Matheny. “These partnerships can also lead to other forms of collaboration. Whether it is through workplace training opportunities, joint facility projects, or lending their expertise in and out of the classroom, our employer Wood Manufacturing advisory committee members always go Technology grads and above and beyond for the college.” business owners, Jesse (left) and Gregg Kinzel.

6 Fox Valley Technical College


Connections… A century of success with apprenticeship training.

Since 1912, Fox Valley Technical College hasn’t changed a bit in one key area: preparing the needs of the workforce no matter what the economy looks like. This year marks the 100th anniversary for FVTC as part of a statewide celebration with all 16 technical colleges within the Wisconsin Technical College System. FVTC’s year-long celebration is as much about looking ahead as it is reflecting on the past. The college’s core mission of working with regional employers has grown significantly over the years through the development of several industry partnerships. Apprenticeships represent one form of training that has forged several partnerships for the college, and they have run in concert with FVTC for about a century. The first legislation in the United States to promote an organized system of apprenticeship was enacted in Wisconsin in 1912. “In the beginning, the first apprenticeship programs were in the construction trades and machine shop industries,” says FVTC President Dr. Susan May. “Today, the apprenticeship programs at Fox Valley Technical College cover a broad range of fields.” Jim Kitchen, lead Machine Tool instructor, summarizes the importance of the FVTC apprenticeship program. “Simply put, you can’t compete if you don’t have people who know how to perform high-tech skills,” Kitchen says. “Today, there are not enough new machinists to replace the ones who are retiring. We are working tirelessly to create

We’re not just teaching what we think is good, we’re providing skills that we know they need.

Steve Schneider

FVTC Apprentice Instructor

enough machinists to keep up with demand. We have to train the next generation.” “We provide relevant education for each and every trade,” states Mike Cattelino, associate dean of the Manufacturing, Transportation, Information, and Agriculture Technologies division. “Each apprentice program represents its unique trade, so it has its own instructors, classrooms, and facilities. For example, our Operating Engineer program is on a 400-acre site where students can practice running large equipment such as earth movers, bulldozers, cranes, and road graders.” Although the education segment of each program is designed to meet specific needs, the basic operational structure for all programs remains the same as it was 100 years ago. “It begins with a contract between the apprentice, the company, the education provider, and the state,” says Steve Schneider, Millwright Apprentice instructor at FVTC. “Companies pay their apprentices an hourly wage while they come to class each week. They are also

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in an apprentice learning position during the rest of week. Ninety percent of their learning is actually on the job.” “Our apprenticeship advisory committee sets up how we work with the manufacturers and helps us ensure that we’re covering the right topics,” Schneider continues. “We’re not just teaching what we think is good, we’re providing skills that we know they need.” Traditionally, students did their book learning in school.

“We realized that apprentices were not getting broad enough experience in hands-on training,” states Kitchen. “So now, we provide a high volume of hands-on work for our apprentices. For example, an individual may not only have to learn how to read a blueprint, but he or she then needs to know how to machine something to exactly match those specifications.” “I believe the training our apprentices receive from Fox Valley Technical College is very beneficial to my company,” states Bob Strelka, maintenance planner at SCA Tissue in Menasha. “They gain a lot of useful knowledge that they can apply to our workforce. I did my pipefitter apprenticeship years ago at Fox Valley Tech. In fact, most of the people at SCA Tissue went through either an apprenticeship or engineering program with Fox Valley Technical College.” The FVTC apprenticeship program staff keeps close track of each individual’s progress. Instructors maintain contact with employers and work to provide additional educational support, if needed. “It’s a big red flag if a Machinist apprentice is not

Millwright maintenance mechanic apprentices train in a hands-on lab at FVTC before applying their skills on the job.

8 Fox Valley Technical College

cutting it in a math class, for example,” Cattelino says. “Is there more we can do to help them? Can we offer more classes? In the end, that’s up to the employer, but we try to give everyone the best opportunity to succeed.” After a student completes his or her apprenticeship program, FVTC notifies the state. Once the employer verifies the apprentice has received the mandated amount of on-the-job training, the state issues a journeyworker certificate. This certificate is recognized throughout Wisconsin as well as in other states. FVTC faculty members for apprenticeship programs understand the on-the-job demands of their apprentices because they all have professional experience in a specific industry. “All of our instructors possess exceptional on-the-job experience, plus they continue to work within our teaching certification system,” notes Dr. May. The demand for apprentices varies throughout the year and depends on the current state of a company’s specific needs. Currently, for instance, FVTC has more than 500 students in its Electrician apprentice program. This level of adaptability reinforces FVTC’s high-level of responsiveness to industry demands. “When we go out and talk about apprenticeships,” says Cattelino, “we try to introduce people to careers they may not have even considered and an educational option that they may not know even existed.” Typically the apprentices are a bit older than traditional FVTC students. “A lot of them have taken some type of tech classes and their employer wants them to take on more responsibilities,” reports In fact, most of the Kitchen. “In machining, people at SCA Tissue many students earn their degree from us, get a job, went through either and then come back to an apprenticeship or our apprentice program. They can earn their engineering program journeyworker credentials after only taking a few with Fox Valley classes.” Technical College. “I think it’s important to look at apprenticeship from Bob Strelka a student’s perspective,” SCA Tissue states Cattelino. “Apprenticeship is an excellent educational option for people who are hands-on learners and want their education related directly to what they’re doing to earn money. If you need to apply new knowledge immediately, then an apprenticeship works perfectly to fit your needs and goals. It’s about gaining the knowledge and motor skills needed to become a skilled person in your trade.” “We have an amazing history in our apprenticeship program,” concludes Dr. May. “And we also have an amazing, almost unimaginable future thanks to many industry partners that have been with us along the way. If we stick to our original and still-core purpose of preparing people for careers in local industry, then we’ll still be making a difference for years to come.”

Learn more: or (920) 735-4887.

View video at:

Plumbing apprentices explore a training concept at FVTC.

A Snapshot of Apprenticeship Training at FVTC Currently, more than 700 apprentices participate in apprenticeship programs, representing 18 skilled trades, including: • Construction Electrician Apprentice (JAC) • Barber/Cosmetologist • Electrician Apprentice (ABC) • Electronic Systems Technician • Industrial Electrician Apprentice • Machinist Apprentice • Maintenance Mechanic/Millwright Apprentice • Maintenance Technician Apprentice • Millwright-Pipefitter • Operating Engineer Apprentice • Pipe Fabricator Apprentice • Pipefitting Apprentice • Plumbing Apprentice • Sheet Metal Apprentice (ABC) • Sheet Metal Construction • Sheet Metal - Industrial • Steamfitting Apprentice/Steamfitting Service Apprentice • Tool & Die Apprentice

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Go to Print FVTC is a premier national trainer for many areas of printing, publishing, and packaging.

Predictions of a paperless and printer-less world make Ron Jape, Printing and Publishing program department chair at Fox Valley Technical College, simply chuckle. “Look around and you’ll see that printing is still a growing industry,” Jape states. “The next time you’re in a grocery store, take a moment and look at how much printing there is on all the products. While book publishing may be on a decline, packaging is thriving and providing more job opportunities than ever before.” Even in a down economy, there are more job openings in the upper Midwest for experienced printers than professionals to fill the positions. Working with industry leaders, FVTC has responded with three programs that feature technology and instructors who are experts in all aspects of their craft. The result is that virtually all graduates from FVTC’s printing-


related programs find career positions. The online job board currently has 30 more openings than there are FVTC graduates to fill them. The associate degree program in Printing and Publishing provides a hands-on overview of all aspects of printing preparation, equipment, and software. Recent graduate and advisory committee member Larissa Salmon is currently a graphic technician at Bemis Graphics in nearby New London, where two of her classmates were also recently hired. “I know that without Fox Valley Tech, I would not have this great job. I enjoyed my classes and finished school with very little debt,” she says. “For me, this program was very valuable, and I joined the advisory committee to help them continue providing the same value to future students.” Fox Valley Technical College

I know that without Fox Valley Tech, I would not have this great job.

Larissa Salmon

Printing & Publishing graduate

Check us out Annual Printing Technologies Open House Tuesday, February 21, 2012 4:30 – 7:00 p.m.

FVTC’s Printing Technologies Center, 5 Systems Drive, Appleton • Tour one of the finest print education centers in the world • Discover the latest technologies • Discuss career opportunities with local employers • Meet with students and faculty • Food, refreshments, and prizes Learn more:

Packaging and Label Printing programs focus more on “By going to Fox Valley Technical flexographic technology. Department chair Mark Keller believes College, we have the ability to that flexography is the key to future growth in the printing bring a new product to market industry. “Flexo allows printing on almost any surface from faster and with a high level of cartons and soda packs to foils, plastics, labels, and corrugated confidence that the product will boxes,” he states. “This opens the door to many industry perform as it was designed.” employment opportunities.” Baldwin also appreciates FVTC’s Scott Gehrt, instructor in the Package and Label Printing experienced staff. “The largest diploma program, agrees. “No matter how bad the economy benefit of working with the college gets, people are always going to need packaged goods,” he says. is Mark Keller’s experience,” he “Right now we are working with two local companies that want states. “When things go wrong, it to hire some of our students as interns and possibly pay for their is nice to have Mark there to help education.” us troubleshoot.” Trevor Jacoby, a recent Package and Label Printing graduate, As technology advances, some is currently a press operator at Belmark Inc., a De Pere-based may question whether printing will Grad Larissa Salmon company that specializes in label printing solutions. “I actually remain a high-growth career field. and Ron Jape, FVTC started at Fox Valley Tech a week before I graduated high school,” Shana Farrell, FVTC’s Printing Printing & Publishing he says. “Managers here at Belmark offered me an internship Services and Distance Learning instructor. half way through the program and then hired me full-time after manager, predicts the future will graduation. I’m now putting in overtime because we’re so busy.” hold even more opportunities All FVTC students benefit from a well-coordinated internship program. “We get our because of advanced technology. students out in the workforce so they can see what is expected of them,” says Gehrt. “I expect we’ll continue to see “We teach the latest technology to meet the demands of employers.” print being reinvented through the To keep up with current trends, the printing instructors at FVTC maintain constant online environment,” she states. contact with equipment manufacturers. They work with MacDermid Printing Solutions, for example, a global developer of flexographic technology headquartered in Atlanta. Dr. Kyle Baldwin, a research chemist at MacDermid, relies on FVTC’s high-tech equipment to test new plates View video at: and inks. “It’s about efficiency and timeliness,” Baldwin explains.

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Kayla Fischer (left) and Advisory Committee member Joey Wilinski.

The state’s only interior design program to earn Supported status by the National Kitchen & Bath Association gives students more options.


Recent graduates of Fox Valley Technical College’s Interior Design program, area employers, and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) have all been telling the same story: the kitchen and bath industry is growing and needs professionals with the right credentials. FVTC’s new Kitchen & Bath Design program illustrates how the department stays relevant to the interior design industry. “This new program provides a positive employment opportunity in today’s continuing downturn in new construction,” explains Bob McKenny, Interior Design instructor. “People are remodeling now more than building. Kitchens and baths are typically the first rooms to get remodeled, so this new degree will help our graduates get to work in the current economy.” “The Interior Design department at Fox Valley Technical College did an excellent job of exploring the best way to approach this new effort,” states advisory committee member and internship employer Joey Wilinski of Wilco Cabinets in Green Bay. “They sent out surveys and involved employers in defining their curriculum.” FVTC is now the only college in Wisconsin that is supported by the NKBA. “Making sure our students have the best career opportunities is what our department has always been about,” says department chair Kathy McDonald. “Our students are learning what they need to know to pass their NKBA certification tests upon graduation. In addition, Fox Valley Technical College

I do everything from choosing paint colors and signage to purchasing furniture and checking on construction project progress.

Kari Delsman

Interior Design graduate

since kitchen and bath designers are often paid a base salary plus commission, a designer who can also sell can make quite a nice salary.” With the addition of the new program, students can now choose to earn their associate degree in Interior Design, Commercial Design, or Kitchen and Bath Design. They have the option to gain credentials in more than one area by taking additional courses. Many students are already taking advantage of this option. Kayla Fischer, a second-year student at FVTC, is planning on earning a triple degree. “I’m interested in all aspects of interior design,” she explains. “I love learning all the new skills, plus I figure it will give me far more opportunities when I graduate.” The Interior Design curriculum at FVTC is arranged to provide students with maximum flexibility in choosing a program that best fits their interests and professional goals. “The programs start with the basics, and each course builds on the one before,” Bob McKenny explains. “This way, students can begin in the general program and then choose to break off into one of the other degree programs.” This is exactly what Interior Design graduate Kari Delsman did. “I planned on doing residential design but loved commercial,” she explained. “I have to admit that I was not the most focused student when I began, but with the help of the instructors and all the hands-on activities, I really got involved.” Like many Fox Valley Tech Interior Design graduates, Delsman credits her success to her education. Today, she is the design specialist at Holy Family Memorial Hospital in Manitowoc,

Grad Kari Delsman

Wisconsin. “I do everything from choosing paint colors and signage to purchasing furniture and checking on construction project progress,” she says. “The work offers a variety of responsibilities; I love it.” “No matter which program you choose, you can be sure that you’ll receive a first-rate education here,” McKenny says. “We’re practical, not theoretical. We make sure our graduates know how to do the tasks that employers need. No designer starts at the top, but with a Fox Valley Tech degree, you’ll be fully equipped to get started and then grow with your career.” The Interior Design program continues to create success for its graduates. According to the latest FVTC Graduate Placement Report, 95% of Interior Design graduates landed jobs within six months of graduation. The Kitchen & Bath and Commercial Design programs are expected to mirror that success. Learn more: View video at:

High-Level Opportunities “I knew in fifth grade that I was going to be an interior designer,” laughs Kylie Fencil, a recent FVTC graduate with double degrees in Interior Design and Commercial Design. “I’ve also always had a passion for aviation. My grandfather was an airplane mechanic and my uncle owned a hobby plane. Flying is a definite adrenaline rush.” Recently Fencil combined her passions in an internship with the French aircraft manufacturer Daher-Socata. She was one of only two American students chosen by the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) to participate in this prestigious five-week program in Tarbes, France. “I worked on interior enhancements for the TBM850 aircraft for Daher-Socata’s 100th anniversary,” Fencil says. “This incredible experience convinced me that I wanted to work in the aviation industry.” Fencil actually got to see the finished plane this past summer at the EAA AirVenture Convention and Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “It was such a rewarding feeling to see an aircraft go from design concept to final product,” she says. Fencil continues to gain experience at Daher-Socata while she pursues career opportunities. “The company has asked me to help them at exhibitor events, and that experience is opening doors for me,” Fencil added.

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on alumni

Q&A with Alan Zierler Alan Zierler is a 1976 graduate of Fox Valley Technical College and current president and CEO of Capital Credit Union. With more than a dozen locations and $400 million in assets under his direction, he is proof that education and hard work pay off.

Why did you attend FVTC? My dream in high school was to become an accountant. However, at that time I simply couldn’t afford a four-year college or university. Fox Valley Technical College was close to my home and affordable. Plus, the scheduling was flexible so I could work full-time while attending school.

What were some of the skills you gained at FVTC? Fox Valley Technical College gave me the same education I would have received at an expensive four-year university or college. I know this because one of my best friends in high school went to a state school studying accounting. When we compared notes, I realized we were using exactly the same textbooks and covering the same material.

What was your first job after graduation? My very first job was in management training here at Capital Credit Union. I’ve continued to grow with my organization. After 10 years on the job, I went to earn my bachelor’s degree. I could afford it then, and I realized that I needed it on my resumé if I wanted to move up in my career field.

How did your FVTC education help prepare you? The college taught me how to learn. It’s helped me keep up in my field. In terms of classes, I must say that the marketing


course I took, which was part of the associate degree program, opened my eyes to some very important issues. When I became president and CEO of Capital Credit Union, I immediately hired a VP of marketing. I was the first in this area to make marketing a VP position.

What are your responsibilities as President and CEO of Capital Credit Union? As the CEO, I’m responsible for the overall governance of the organization, but these days it’s also important for me to play the role of a visionary. We’re constantly looking at our competition, considering our customers’ service needs, and handling the proper use of our assets. A good example is the entire topic of expansion. We have 13 brick-andmortar offices now, so we’re always comparing the advantages of opening more locations while also expanding our online services.

Why would you recommend FVTC? Not only do I recommend Fox Valley Technical College, but Capital Credit Union makes it a point to employ FVTC students while they are in school. Some of them stay on after graduation. Our organization also hires other Fox Valley Tech graduates who do not work for us during their school years. We recently calculated that FVTC students and graduates make up between 10 to 15 percent of our workforce. In addition, we encourage our employees to take classes at Fox Valley Tech. Capital Credit Union covers tuition costs for all of its employees based on varying levels of credits per semester. I’ve always felt that Fox Valley Technical College more than measures up against its competition. I’ve done well. I’ve succeeded and enjoyed my job. Work is fun for me, and I feel like that’s the most that anyone can ask! Fox Valley Technical College

Alan Zierler

I’ve always felt that Fox Valley Technical College more than measures up against its competition.

Alan Zierler

President & CEO, Capital Credit Union

Seeking Outstanding Alumni Fox Valley Technical College is seeking nominations for its 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award. Each year, this distinguished honor is presented to a deserving alumnus who has completed a Fox Valley Technical College associate degree, technical diploma, or apprenticeship program. The award was created to recognize an FVTC alumnus who has demonstrated the value of technical education through: • Career advancement • Community service • Continued personal and educational growth • Support of the Wisconsin Technical College System • Success within his/her career field FVTC will honor the award recipient in May 2012. Nomination guidelines are available at, or call (920) 735-4859 for more information. The nomination deadline is March 1, 2012.

Image property of Eppstein Uhen Architects


on the Foundation

A Tasteful Investment The new high-tech Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre at Fox Valley Technical College will be the first of its kind in Wisconsin. The recipe for successful training partnerships requires buy-in from industry leaders. In the case of Fox Valley Technical College’s Culinary Arts program, its industry partners have more than bought into a new concept for enhanced training; they’ve financially supported the idea as well. Plans are underway for the state’s training leader in culinary arts to add a theatre and demonstration kitchen to its array of educational resources. The new facility will have a stateof-the-art kitchen with 126 seats arranged in semi-circle tiers to give students a clear view of live cooking demonstrations. It will also be equipped with digital cameras and large screens to provide close-ups and technology to record and broadcast presentations. “We’ll be the first training college in

Their efforts are incredible in terms of taking a challenge and making the absolute most out of it. I think this says a lot about Fox Valley Technical College.

Philip Jones

president and CEO, Jones Dairy Farm

Wisconsin with this kind of facility,” notes Chef Jeff Igel, department chair and instructor in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs. The Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre will be located near the main entrance. It will also be available for use by outside organizations. “The finished facility will be ideal for many types of corporate and community meetings,” says Igel. Igel began the theatre project by approaching faculty, board members, and local industry leaders with a remodeling concept. One of the first to express interest was Philip Jones, president and CEO of Jones Dairy Farm, a large and well-respected familyowned food processing and food service corporation headquartered in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. “We believe that it’s important to support schools in our industry,” states Jones. “Fox Valley Technical College is a customer of ours. We’ve gotten to know and respect the people there and have supported a scholarship program for years. When Chef Jeff presented the idea of building new facilities, I gave him a commitment and a challenge.” Jones Dairy Farm agreed to fund 50% of the project with a lead gift of $125,000 if the college could raise the rest of the money. The Fox Valley Tech team quickly started raising funds. “I want to commend Chef Jeff and his staff on making the idea a

35 Years of Building a Foundation for Giving Established in 1976, the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation, Inc. continues to help meet the needs of students. Here is a snapshot of a record year of fundraising by the FVTC Foundation during 2010-2011: • More than $2.4 million in financial and in-kind contributions • Awarded 715 scholarships to currently enrolled FVTC students and incoming high school seniors, an 11% increase from the previous year

reality,” states Jones. “Their efforts are incredible in terms of taking a challenge and making the absolute most out of it. I think this says a lot about Fox Valley Technical College.” Program graduates, suppliers, students, and others have been part of a group of generous stakeholders, with many pledging to donate $2,000 a year for five years. Equipment manufacturers have agreed to donate appliances. Current student Katie Oskey, who is pursuing a double major in Culinary Arts and in Hotel & Restaurant Management, says the project will create great learning experiences. “The theatre will bring our guest speaker options to a whole new level, and our culinary and hospitality student clubs can use the setting for many activities.” “This whole process has been very humbling,” states Igel. “The best compliment I received was when a donor pointed out that we’d raised over $400,000 without even showing anyone our building plans on paper. People clearly have faith that their money with us is a good investment.”


Learn more: (920) 735-5643

• $428,300 in scholarships, a 17% increase from the previous year • Nearly $155,000 in staff giving (15% above goal) • Since the first year of staff giving in 2003, through the Foundation’s Staff and Leadership Giving Campaign, FVTC employees have provided more than $1 million in support for student scholarships and college programs.


Learn more: visit

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on the student experience

Lifelong Learning Starts at Any Age At 64 years young, one student turned a layoff into a new career.

For many mid- to late-career workers, losing a job can be debilitating. Bob Slavik, however, looked at his challenging situation differently. When this 64-year-old machinist was laid off, he saw it as an opportunity to explore a new career. So he enrolled in Fox Valley Technical College’s Outdoor Power Equipment Technician program. After earning a technical diploma from that program, he enrolled in the Power Sports Technology certificate program, designed for individuals who want to learn how to repair ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and marine and personal watercraft. “I’ve always maintained my own vehicles,” Slavik says. “I just decided it was time to learn how to do it the right

All my life I have worked for someone, and now I am my own boss. I owe that success to my instructors.

Bob Slavik

way and maybe help others too.” Returning to school after so many years took a little getting used to, he admits. “I have to confess,” Slavik laughs. “My wife helped me write my first paper using the computer. Getting used to the computer was the hardest part for me! I definitely liked the lab settings the best because you could tear something apart and then fix it.” Slavik quickly adapted to the Bob Slavik classroom setting. “As a former machinist, Bob was very “Word has spread and business is pretty organized,” says Jerry Fischer, Slavik’s good,” he says. There’s always somebody Outdoor Power Equipment instructor. who needs something fixed. All my life I Slavik was soon up-to-speed and his have worked for someone, and now I am superior fix-it capabilities came through my own boss. I owe that success to my loud and clear in state and national instructors.” competitions. He took home first place Slavik also predicts that he’ll soon in marine service technology at the state be back on campus after he’s finished level and placed third in a national the program. “We have this rocking competition in Kansas City. Both events chair that my wife likes,” he says. ”I’ve were part of the annual SkillsUSA refinished it, and now I want to learn competitions to recognize outstanding how to reupholster it!” students across the nation who possess exceptional advanced technical skills. After completing the program in December, Slavik Learn more: plans to continue to work as an independent mechanic.


Global Entrepreneurs From dreams to reality.

Roberto Hernandez

16 Fox Valley Technical College

Roberto Hernandez is a recent graduate of the Bridge to Entrepreneurship & Business program, a class that introduces English Language Learner (ELL) students to the opportunities and challenges of owning a business. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Hernandez began preparing for the program when he was quite young. “I moved here with my family from Mexico when I was 11,” states the 19-yearold student. “In 2003, my older brother opened a restaurant where I now work fulltime as assistant manager.” His older sister, Mariana, just opened a new fast-food restaurant with their brother and mother. “She was the one

2) First electric vehicle ignition system or the car radio? 3) FVTI’s Oshkosh Riverside Campus or the first personal computer? 4) Doppler Radar or FVTC? 5) iPhone or YouTube?

Answers 1. French electrical inventor Auguste de Meritens produced the first carbon arc torch in 1881. FVTC was founded in 1912. 2. The electric ignition system was invented by GM in 1911 for use in the Cadillac. The car radio was invented by Paul Galvin, founder of Motorola, in 1929. 3. IBM came first, introducing the first personal computer in 1981. Fox Valley Technical Institute opened its Riverside Campus in 1982. 4. FVTI officially became Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in 1987. A year later, Christian Andreas Doppler invented Doppler Radar, which is prominently used today to predict the weather. 5. YouTube was launched in 2005, while the iPhone came out in 2007.


1) Fox Valley Tech’s first vocational school or the arc welder?

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2012 2-

years who first told me about the program,” Hernandez says. “What my sister learned from the class, she used to plan her restaurant.” For many immigrants, owning a business is part of the American dream. “We felt there was a real need for this program, and Roberto and his family are perfect examples,” notes instructor Caethe Brockman. “A recent study showed that in 2010 the immigrant rate of entrepreneurial activity in the United States was 62%. That’s much higher than the native-born rate of 28%. The main goal of this class is to help students see if they have a solid new business idea.” “Roberto had big dreams of starting a nightclub,” adds Mark Labinski, Brockman’s co-instructor who

specializes in teaching English as a second language. “In the beginning, he seemed very focused on that goal, but he soon realized from experiencing certain aspects of the class that this idea wasn’t feasible yet.” Hernandez changed his perspective. “I realized through the class that I was in too much of a hurry,” he says. “I need to learn more things about business before I step out on my own.” He will be a full-time student at FVTC this fall. “I still have a lot of ambitions, but I want to take my time and find out the best direction to follow.” The first-year class emerged as a model for ELL entrepreneurship in the Wisconsin Technical College System. Inaugural class students, along with Brockman and Labinski, presented their

learning experiences to members of the other 15 technical colleges during a statewide WTCS board meeting last year. That same class also created a business plan to sell water bottles with the proceeds going to KIVA, an online micro-lending institution that helps startup businesses worldwide. Proceeds from these businesses are used to alleviate poverty in third-world nations. This year’s class is considering another product-based project, with proceeds going again to KIVA. Current students are from Kenya, Egypt, Haiti, Brazil, China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Nicaragua.


Learn more:

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Accredited andAffordable Fox Valley Technical College offers a solid return on your investment: • The most efficient and affordable option for higher education in the Fox Valley. • FVTC instructors have real-world work experience. • High graduate employment rates average about 90%. • The average starting salary of FVTC grads is about $33,000, with an average salary increase of 40% over five years. • Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association since 1970. • We’ve been in your community for 100 years. Our reputation is solid and we’re focused on the future!

Visit to apply for admission!

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Focus Magazine - Fall 2011  

Fox Valley Technical College's Focus magazine is published twice yearly.

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