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focus Fox Valley Technical College

volume 2, issue 2 • fall 2009

your future

Spark Your

Career FVTC’s Welding program can be a fast track to a red-hot career Page 10

inside: >

Small business refocuses with Pro-Seed Page 5


Green Dreams: New life in natural resources Page 7


Recipe for Success: Culinary Arts at FVTC Page 12


Focus is published bi-annually for the communities of Fox Valley Technical College. EXECUTIVE EDITOR/MANAGER OF MEDIA RELATIONS Chris Jossart CUSTOM PUBLISHING SERVICES The Coghlan Group

7 in every issue

6 New: What’s Now New ways to connect with FVTC.

features 7



Green Dreams For Wenonah Skye, FVTC’s Natural Resources Technician program provided the hands-on skills and technical knowledge she needed to reinvigorate her career. Forging New Connections FVTC’s Welding program is a powerful resource for students looking for rewarding careers—and for area companies looking for welltrained workers. Recipe for Success Culinary Arts program graduate Mark Biesack has found his way back to a career he loves.


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


Focus on Workplace Training One Wisconsin firm used FVTC’s Lean Performance Center to save more than $500,000 per year—and get all of its 2,400 employees on the same page.


Focus on the Entrepreneur The FVTC Venture Center’s new Pro-Seed training program gave Dr. Pat Mahoney the insight and skills to take his veterinary practice to the next level.


Focus on Alumni Anna Anderson realized she needed a new career. A flexible degree program at FVTC helped her find it.


Focus on the Foundation Thanks to the FVTC Foundation, Xoua Moua returned to college and started on a promising new career path.


Focus on Student Life The new Older Wiser Learners group helps displaced workers adjust to college. Two talented students build a robot that conquered a popular video game—while enhancing their resumes.

EDITOR Chris Mikko ART DIRECTOR Amy Bjellos CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Chuck Benda, Phil Bolsta, Greg Breining, Casey Britten, Sara Gilbert, Meleah Maynard PHOTOGRAPHY Gary Brilowski, Gary Gawinski, Patrick Kelly, Dave Peters DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE MARKETING Barb Dreger

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,

welcome Fox Valley Tech is full of great instructors who have a lot of professional experience. I utilized the college while attending Neenah High School to jump-start my career, and am now on a journey to reach my dream of becoming a physician. Through the Youth Options program, I earned my CNA certificate and took general education courses at Fox Valley Tech before graduating from high school. This experience helped me get into pre-med at a university. Welcome to FVTC. The college is here to guide your future. Katie Armstrong

FVTC offers more than 200 associate degree, technical diploma and certificate programs, and instruction related to 20 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:

© 2009 Fox Valley Technical College. All rights reserved. Equal Opportunity Employer/Educator.

aroundfvtc FVTC Welcomes Community Events

FVTC hosted several prominent events in 2009.

Fox Valley Technical College played host to some high-level community events in 2009, which contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy. Annually, FVTC is proud to host the Community First Fox Cities Marathon Festival of Races, accommodating more than 7,000 athletes and guests for various events. A menagerie of other events took place at the Appleton campus in 2009, introducing thousands of visitors to the picturesque, 144-acre location. The college welcomed members of the Wisconsin Harley Owners Group in June for its annual state rally, and hosted the athlete’s village for participants of the 2009 Badger State Summer Games on the following weekend. The college also was delighted to share in the excitement of honoring our veterans during a “welcome home” ceremony in July. The FVTC Waupaca Regional Center hosts two annual tours of its greendesigned facility in partnership with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

A Growing Global Campus Community The global atmosphere at FVTC continues to materialize, and the impact of the college’s training around the world is becoming more evident. The college currently trains students representing 34 countries in programs designed to address immediate economic needs in their homelands. The number of international students enrolled at two-year colleges in the United States also continues to increase. Two-year colleges are ideally positioned to serve the needs of international students by providing first-level professional education to vital sectors of society. Technical colleges provide a model of lower-cost, higher education and skill set development for in-demand and specialized careers. FVTC’s Global Education and Services department received six grants this academic year to help welcome 140 international students. Five years ago, the college had about 30 international students. A group of international students enjoy time together at FVTC.

2 Fox Valley Technical College

For more information, visit Host families are still needed!

News Briefs Enrollment Boom and the New Economy The sluggish economy has triggered an exceptional enrollment spike at Fox Valley Technical College at the outset of the fall semester. The college is experiencing a 16% enrollment increase (typical increases average between 2-4% annually). An ever-changing global market has created an extraordinary need for skilled workers to energize the uncertain economy. Professionals who possess knowledge of the latest technology and hands-on application skills present a promising remedy for these challenging times. That’s where technical colleges enter the equation. Flexible learning options, a wide range of offerings and transfer opportunities, and the increasing value of technical college credentials make the two-year pathway more attractive than ever. Salaries are also on the rise for FVTC graduates. According the college’s most recent Graduate Placement Report, the average yearly salary for 2008 graduates is $33,848 within six months of graduation. After five years, the average salary is $40,660, according to the same report. The college is responding to its community through a number of strategies, despite strained resources. These strategies include adding course sections, hosting workshops to prepare students for college life and other transitions, and more flexible options for course delivery.

Students turned to FVTC in big numbers this fall.

• Criminal Justice Instructor Tina Braun has been named 2009 Woman Officer of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of Women Police. Braun is a 1994 graduate of FVTC's Law Enforcement Recruitment Academy and a lieutenant with the Fond du Lac Police Department. • The J. J. Keller Foundation awarded Lt. Tina Braun a $50,000 grant to the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation to help increase services provided by the Appleton Even Start Family Literacy program. The program is a well-established partnership between FVTC, the Appleton Area School District, and a number of other community agencies that focus on strengthening academic and parenting skills of disadvantaged individuals. • The Academy for Leadership Training and Development, a worldwide provider of leadership training for post-secondary leaders, recognized four individuals from FVTC for graduating from the Wisconsin Leadership Development Institute: Kim Horejs, Early Childhood Education instructor Kaye Krueger, Applied Engineering Technology instructor Therese Nemec, Social Science instructor Marge Rubin, director of Articulated Programs and manager of the FVTC Neenah Regional Center • Horticulture instructor and landscape architect Jim Beard earned national certification in organic land care from the Northeast Organic Farming Association. • The National Academic Advising Association presented FVTC with an Outstanding Institutional Advising Award for its Peer Advising Connection program. Employees Jim Beard involved in receiving the award include Kaye Krueger, Applied Engineering Technology instructor; Kathy Stockwell, associate dean, Business, Health, and Service division; and counselor Dana Zahorik.

Ways to Visit FVTC Go to to learn about the many ways to explore FVTC, on and off campus.

E-news Updates from FVTC Visit to sign up!

focus fall 2009



on workplace training Keep the Change One Wisconsin firm used FVTC’s Lean Performance Center to save more than $500,000 per year— and get all of its 2,400 employees on the same page. By Chuck Benda About two years ago, School Specialty, a Greenville-based educational resource provider, decided it was time to “go lean.” With the help of a newly installed enterprise-wide business system, the company was ready to take full advantage of lean operational principles (which strive to boost bottom-line results through ongoing improvements to quality control, cost reduction, and operational efficiency). But it soon became apparent that the firm also needed to bring its 2,400 employees, or associates, up to speed if it was to fully realize the benefits of going lean.

When you put change strategies in the hands of people who do the work, you get tremendous buy-in and outstanding results.

Cindy Wetzel LPC Instructor

“We worked with an outside consulting firm to help with the lean initiative rollout,” says Michael Killoren, School Specialty vice president. “We quickly realized, however, that we needed to provide training to help our associates understand the basic processes and principles of what we were trying to do, and to create a general level of ‘lean literacy’ throughout the organization.” School Specialty is an educational resources industry leader, with 15 U.S. locations and two in Canada. It generates roughly $1 billion in annual


sales to U.S. and Canadian pre-K-12 schools by providing everything from paper and pencils to desks and chairs to science curriculum programs and other specialized instructional materials. As such, it can take any number of approaches to lean training. But according to Killoren, the idea that made the most sense was to work with an organization that could From left, School Specialty's address the unique Michael Killoren, vice president; Tammy Smith, needs of adult learners. vice president of Procurement Flow Cells; Enter Fox Valley and Julaine Zuelzke, lean champion. Technical College’s Lean Performance Center (LPC). “We developed two LPC at FVTC courses for School Specialty,” says Cindy Wetzel, an LPC instructor. “One was an FVTC’s Lean Performance Center online E-lean course. The other was an helps companies yield returns on on-site Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt lean training investments in all areas training course.” of an organization. In addition to The LPC also secured a State of School Specialty, the Lean Wisconsin Workforce Advancement Enterprise Project and Green Belt Training grant to support development Certification programs are of the new courses. More than 220 introducing or enhancing skills for School Specialty associates have already other local employers, including: taken the E-lean training course. • Community First Credit Union • J.J. Keller & Associates Finding Value • Kimberly Clark The LPC helped design a number of • McCain Foods other on-site activities, including rapid • Miles Kimball Company improvement events, for School • Sturm Foods Specialty. “We looked at overseas freight and the associated costs, and discovered The LPC provides training and that customers from Alaska and Hawaii implementation assistance at weren’t being charged the right amount employer locations, online, and in for shipping,” says Wetzel. classroom settings. “The Green Belt training brings some of the decision-making to the work floor,” she adds. “When you put change For more information, visit strategies in the hands of people who do the work, you get tremendous buy-in and outstanding results.” Tune in monthly to WHBY Killoren is pleased with the results. 1150 AM for “Creating a “Teaming up with the LPC turned out to High Performance be a great deal for us,” he says. “They Workplace” to hear success gave us the training program we needed, stories. Visit and it felt good to support them and the successstories. local community.” Fox Valley Technical College



on the entrepreneur

Smart Medicine The FVTC Venture Center’s new Pro-Seed training program gave Dr. Pat Mahoney the insight and skills to take his veterinary practice to the next level. By Chuck Benda Many small business owners are saddled with the same dilemma: As the primary providers of the technical expertise and services for their companies, they have little or no time to run—let alone, grow—their businesses. Like Dr. Pat Mahoney, veterinarian and owner of American Animal Hospital (AAH) in Neenah, business owners come to work early, skip lunch, and stay late to try to make things work.

Having my own coach work one-on-one with me was a powerful experience.

Dr. Patrick Mahoney Owner & Veterinarian American Animal Hospital

“It’s really hard to find the time to pull your head out of the soup and look over the top of the bowl,” says Mahoney, who started AAH in 1979. “Although we’re not yet where we want to be financially, since the training we’ve managed to help our business grow— even in the midst of these difficult financial times.” Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center launched the new program in September 2008, partnering with California-based training firm E-MythTM Worldwide. The program, Pro-Seed powered by E-MythTM, combines an online curriculum with one-to-one business coaching by Venture Center faculty. Participants study self-paced online training modules in leadership, marketing, finances, and more. “Having my own coach work one-onone with me was a powerful

Dr. Patrick Mahoney and Sara Holtz examine "Boo" at American Animal Hospital.

experience,” says Mahoney. “She had experience in accounting and in retail business, and she was very familiar with helping professional offices deal with management issues.” Although the program targets small business owners, Mahoney was serious enough about making some improvements in his business that he wanted his office manager, Sara Holtz, to participate in the program, too. Holtz worked with Al Lautenslager, an adjunct instructor with The Venture Center, who also is a consultant, author, and marketing and public relations specialist, as her personal coach. “As the company’s office manager, Sara was the perfect person to work with,” says Lautenslager. “She’s second in command at the animal hospital and really understands what makes that business go on a daily basis.” Mahoney and Holtz note that AAH made several key changes since beginning the program, including: • refining the company vision statement • redirecting marketing efforts to focus on customer retention and referrals • developing a training manual that provides step-by-step instructions on how to perform all tasks, ranging from cleaning floors to performing exams. In addition to these significant achievements, Holtz noticed another change. “It sounds so simple,” she says. “But Dr. Mahoney is actually eating lunch every day now. And he takes some

time for himself once in a while. That is bettering our business.” He plans to continue on the path that the Pro-Seed program has started. “I plan to continue working with my personal coach by phone,” he says. “And I sure hope Fox Valley Tech continues this program.”

Growing Today’s Workforce… The First Completers of Pro-Seed The following individuals completed the firstever Pro-Seed powered by E-MythTM training session through the FVTC Venture Center: Jon Bartz, Martenson & Eisele, Inc. Carol Brauer, BrightStar Healthcare Gene Dorn, D & D Excavating & Landscape Service, Inc. Don Goggin, Pinnacle Photo & Portraits Janet Golla, Janet’s Custom Design Sara Holtz, American Animal Hospital David Kozlowski, Kwik Investments, Inc. David Lindenstruth, HuHot Mongolian Grill Dr. Patrick Mahoney, American Animal Hospital Aaron Matuszewski, Prefinished Staining Products, Inc. Jerry Oberstadt, Oberstadt Landscapes & Nursery Annilee Pietsch, The Pietsch Team Diane Pruchnofski, P & D Metal Works, Inc. Kim Pruchnofski, P & D Metal Works, Inc. Andy Reuland, The Credit Coach Jeff Schultz, Martenson & Eisele, Inc.

For more information on Venture Center offerings, visit

focus fall 2009



>> NOW

By Casey Britten

Join the conversation! These days, it seems everyone—from professional athletes to media to your friends and neighbors—is jumping on the social media bandwagon. Why is it so hot right now? Is it here to stay? At Fox Valley Technical College, social media is simply another way to connect with people who are interested in learning more about the college. The discussions link others to community resources, events, and helpful information on a variety of topics. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in our community and around here. Fox Valley Tech is helping spread the word!

Find us on Facebook

See us on YouTube

Check out FVTC’s official fan page on Facebook. Interact with students and staff, plus see photos and videos from around campus, news items, upcoming events, student comments, and more.

FVTC’s YouTube channel shows technology in action. See and experience what our programs are like and what it’s like to be a student here. Watch student-produced videos, and in the coming months, look for even more first-hand footage of FVTC technology in action. – search for “Fox Valley Technical College”

Follow us on Twitter On Twitter, look for @FoxValleyTech to find a mixed bag of college updates. Learn about upcoming events, news, fun facts, tips on finding a job in today’s economy, entrepreneurship classes, and more. And don’t forget to talk to us! We want to hear from you.

Did we mention the prizes? Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for prize drawings. Winnings could include tickets to Cultural Cuisine, a tune-up for your car, FVTC apparel, gift cards to the FVTC Bookstore, a free home landscaping consultation from our gardening experts, experiencing what it’s like to drive a semi or police car, a flight simulation, an iPhone, a Kindle, and more.

Stay connected! Visit to learn more.

6 Fox Valley Technical College



For Wenonah Skye, FVTC’s Natural Resources Technician program provided the hands-on skills and technical knowledge she needed to reinvigorate her career. By Greg Breining

Not long ago, Wenonah Skye was at a crossroads. She had a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and work experience with the U.S. Forest Service on her resume. But over the years, her life took several detours, including a

series of unfulfilling jobs. She felt like her professional field, natural resources management, was incomplete. “I was very capable at that time, but there were holes in my education,” says Skye, now 42. “That’s why I decided to return to school. I needed the hands-on

skills that were missing from my background.” Despite previous work experience and a four-year degree, Skye enrolled in Fox Valley Technical College’s Natural Resources Technician program to help reinvigorate her career.

focus fall 2009


Digging Up New Opportunities Skye isn’t alone. Many older students—including people with degrees—regularly enroll at FVTC to enhance skills and find new opportunities for themselves. Students also come from all over. FVTC has the only natural resources associate degree program in Wisconsin. “After working jobs they don’t like for many years, they wake up one morning and say, ‘Life is too short to keep doing this,’” explains Rick Buser, chair of FVTC’s Natural Resources department. In fact, one recent student was a retired doctor. He didn’t need the work; he simply wanted to learn more about conservation issues and develop skills for some volunteer projects. Says Buser: “There’s no average student here.” Bruce Cecka, another Natural Resources instructor, echoes those comments. He recently talked to a prospective student who had already earned a bachelor’s degree. “The gentleman told me that he had a four-year degree, but that he didn’t know how to ‘do’ anything,” he says. “So he enrolled at FVTC to build his technical skills in natural resources.”

Grounded in Fundamentals Skye learned about the FVTC program when she was working as a research assistant with the Menominee Indian Reservation in northeastern Wisconsin. She toured the campus and viewed a slide show presentation on the Natural Resources program. That’s when the light bulb went on. “I realized that it would be great if I could get some practical skills,” she says. “I really needed to get back into understanding my field again.” The FVTC program offered an opportunity to do just that. The first year involves both natural resources fieldwork and general education courses in math and science. Technical classes focus on topics like plant identification and surveying. Other options Students learn better if they're include wildlife doing something. They also build management, fish management, forestry, soil their resumes with hard-to-get and water conservation, and water quality and experience, while working wastewater management. alongside agency professionals. Electives include wildfire introduction and live fire Rick Buser training. Natural Resources department chair, FVTC Students also receive extensive field experience. For example, Buser regularly leads them on trout stream management projects with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Trout Unlimited. “I don’t want to be working under artificial light any more than the students do,” he says. “We’re in the field getting dirty, slapping bugs, and freezing our fingers off for the purpose of learning. Students learn better if they’re doing something. They also build their resumes with hard-to-get experience, while working alongside agency professionals.” All second-year students must volunteer in the natural resources field throughout a semester. “This experience gives them a chance to work 80 hours and see what’s really involved in a position,” says Cecka. Graduates are qualified for a variety of jobs with government, nonprofits, or private companies, including working as fish or wildlife management technicians, forestry technicians, campground managers, surveying assistants, wastewater technicians, and naturalists. What’s more, nearly 90% of the students from last year’s graduating class were working within six months.



8 Fox Valley Technical College

A Whole New World Skye initially worried about competing with younger students and feared the technology. She quickly found that the program’s small class sizes and personal attention from instructors calmed those fears. “Talk to the instructors,” she advises other students. “Get to know them; they are your greatest advocates.” She now has another year of coursework ahead of her. Skye then hopes to work for an organization like the Environmental Protection Agency in an area such as water quality. “That’s my long-term goal,” she says. “A lot of our resources are getting used up. Fresh water is one of them.”

For more information, visit

Wildland Firefighter Training at FVTC Wildland Firefighter training has emerged as one of the hottest programs at Fox Valley Technical College. One reason why, according to Rick Buser, Natural Resources department chair, is that employment in the field appears promising. Wildland fires are increasing in intensity and frequency, and baby boomers involved in fire fighting and fire management are retiring. FVTC is one of only five Wildland Firefighter training centers in North America. FVTC courses acquaint students with fighting wildfires as well as using fire to manage grasslands, woodlands, and other habitats. “We give students a lot of experience and training,” Buser says. “When they graduate, they’re poised to work in a rewarding career that protects lives, property, and natural resources from wildfires.” For more information, visit

FVTC graduate Dave Peters assesses a wildfire in northern California.

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Forging New FVTC’s Welding program is a powerful resource for students looking for rewarding careers—and for area companies looking for well-trained workers.


By Phil Bolsta

The world of welding has undergone some remarkable changes in the last two decades. “Welding environments are much better today than 15 years ago,” notes Bill Berge, associate dean of Fox Valley Technical College’s Manufacturing, Information, and Agriculture Technologies division. “Foundries now are very clean compared to years ago when I was a shipbuilder. Many companies also have robotic welding, or at least have made the welding process semi-automatic, so welders often set parameters on a machine instead of doing all the welding themselves.” Combine those changes with a growing demand from industry, and it’s no wonder FVTC recently added a third welding section to its offerings. That’s not all. The college is even offering a late-night class that runs until 1 a.m. to train welders who could not typically attend a session during the day.


Valarie Wojcik and Jesse Evans in one of FVTC's state-of-the-art welding labs.

Jesse Evans, 19, was so enthusiastic about a welding career that he started taking welding classes through FVTC during his junior year of high school. The next year, he took advantage of the college’s Youth Options program to opt out of his senior year and attend welding classes on FVTC’s Oshkosh campus instead. Getting a head start on a well-paying career was worth the daily 100-mile round-trip commute from his hometown of Richford, Wisconsin. In May 2009, Evans’ work ethic paid off when he graduated from high school and FVTC simultaneously. His technical diploma in Production Welding quickly landed him a job at Oshkosh-based Muza Metal Products, a full-service sheet metal and tubular fabrication provider for some of the nation's leading original equipment manufacturers. “I weld parts together according to blueprints, which is pretty much what the classes at Fox Valley Tech teach you,” Evans says. “So, I’m using all the skills I learned there.” Welding is the bridge that Evans plans to travel to reach a larger goal. “My lifelong dream is to own a hot rod and chopper shop,” he says. “That’s also why I wanted to learn these skills.” Fox Valley Technical College

ons “

My lifelong dream is to own a hot rod and chopper shop. That’s also why I wanted to learn [welding] skills.

Jesse Evans

Collaboration Station FVTC and Appleton-based Pierce Manufacturing join forces for an innovative training program.

FVTC student

Supply and Demand Much of the immediate and growing demand for welders is coming from the area’s construction industry, which includes recent pipeline projects and a nuclear power plant. Another factor is the physical nature of welding work, which is prompting some aging baby boomers to retire or move into different fields. But the need for welders is not just local—it’s regional and even national. “I have been at numerous conferences, and people from other states are experiencing the same demand,” Berge says. “Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development surveys show that welding is one of the fastest-growing professions. I see this trend continuing for at least the next two years, if not longer.” That’s good news for Valarie Wojcik, 20, who recently received her associate degree in Welding from FVTC. The Hortonville native got her first taste of welding through the college’s Mini-Chopper Build program, which is designed to get teams of high school juniors and seniors excited about hands-on career choices. It worked. Wojcik was hooked after building a mini-motorcycle from the ground up. “Through that program, I learned machining and welding,” she says. “After it was over, I wanted to go to school for welding. I loved the Tech’s instructors and the campus, and it was close to home and affordable.” Wojcik also enjoys the nature of the work itself. “There are so many aspects to welding,” she says. “I could be welding underwater or on buildings. And the best part is that the trade is great if you like to work independently.” Wojcik is expanding her options by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

Two years ago, Pierce needed a way to find skilled welders. Its solution was to team up with Fox Valley Technical College and develop a course that would produce qualified welders in a timely fashion. The course was a six-week program that included all the necessary welding skills to become certified at Pierce Manufacturing. Pierce found 16 employees from its labor pool that were looking for an opportunity. The employees completed the program with skills in blueprint reading, as well as steel, stainless steel, and aluminum welding. This is one of the innovative ways the company ensures a steady supply of qualified welders. In a sense, the arrangement wasn’t new to FVTC. The college has been providing training and weld testing on an as-needed basis for numerous local companies over the years. “We do a lot of weld testing,” says Bill Berge, an FVTC associate dean. “We are a weld test center for the state of Wisconsin and our instructors are all certified welding instructors. We work with about 30 different companies to certify their welders to either an American Welding Society or American Society of Mechanical Engineers certification.”

For more information, visit

focus fall 2009


Recipe for


Culinary Arts program graduate Mark Biesack has found his way back to a career he loves. By Meleah Maynard

Mark Biesack wasn’t surprised when he was accepted to one of the top culinary arts schools in the country, Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, shortly after he graduated from high school. By that time, he had been cooking since the seventh grade and was excited to turn his passion into a career. But the Stevens Point native’s dream came to an abrupt end during the first trimester when he slipped in his dorm room, tearing the tendon off his kneecap. The painful injury forced him to accept what he had already feared. During high school, he’d been diagnosed with bone cancer and had endured rounds of chemotherapy. While he’d beat the cancer, he simply wasn’t strong enough yet to try and make it through the training program at that time.

Culinary Arts graduate Mark Biesack.

12 Fox Valley Technical College

So he moved home and soon found himself back in the kitchen at Going to Fox Valley Tech helped Rockman’s Catering, where he had cooked during high school. Biesack liked the job, but he was struggling to figure out his next step me develop as a person. when a co-worker mentioned the accelerated Culinary Arts program at Fox Valley Technical College. Biesack was immediately interested. Mark Biesack Though he had some initial fears that FVTC wouldn’t compare to Johnson and Wales, they melted away when he toured the campus with Chef Jeff Igel, department chair of the program and 13-year and you cover each other’s back instructor at the college. “Chef Jeff’s attitude and professionalism grabbed me right away,” Biesack recalls. “The quality of the kitchen facilities at Fox Valley Tech was impressive, and when you’re all under pressure.” In October, Biesack left the resort it was obvious that the instructors were skilled and committed to students. I didn’t feel like I to take a new job with Bon was sacrificing anything to go to school there.” Appetite Management Company, a In fact, Biesack was so energized by his classes, instructors, and fellow students, that he moved to Appleton just two weeks after starting his first semester. He also joined the FVTC California-based food service Culinary Club and volunteered for a wide range of activities, including annual pie sales and provider to corporations, colleges, and universities around the country. helping cater private events. “There are plenty of chefs who have never gone to school, but He is now a cook on the Lawrence going to Fox Valley Tech helped me develop as a person, and I tried to learn everything I University campus in Appleton. could about the business,” he explains. He particularly learned a lot from Jennifer Although he took a pay cut, Solloway-Malvitz (“Chef Jenn”), who teaches baking and pastry making. Biesack was drawn to Bon Appetite’s commitment to freshness Next steps and scratch cooking, along with The work paid off. Shortly before he graduated in April 2008, Biesack was hired as a sous advancement opportunities. “I chef at Fox Hills Resort in Mishicot, Wisconsin. A few months later, he was promoted to really like the company’s values and executive chef. The job had a wide range of duties—everything from preparing ability to maintain them while still for the week’s functions by scheduling appropriate staff and writing menus to being profitable,” he says. “I’m keeping his eye on costs. He also created a new system for cleaning and only 25 and I have a lot to learn, so organizing the kitchen, and made it a point to work alongside his staff, whether I feel like this is a really good place they were cleaning or cooking. “I’m not the kind of executive chef who can’t for me to be right now.” grab a mop or do dishes when a dishwasher calls in sick,” he says. Biesack says that dealing with people is one of the best aspects of the business. For more information, visit “I fell in love with the dynamic of the kitchen a long time ago,” he says. “You can’t duplicate anywhere the feeling you get when you’re working in a kitchen

Key Ingredient: Exceptional Faculty The popularity of cooking shows and the Food Network has contributed toward making Culinary Arts a “very hot” program these days, says Department Chair Chef Jeff Igel. To meet the demand, the college offers both traditional and accelerated versions of the popular two-year program, which appeals to students of all ages (the oldest graduate so far was 70 years old). Graduates receive the training they need to succeed in this highly competitive field, which encompasses a wide range of positions with hotels, restaurants, hospitals, private clubs, cruise ships, colleges, and corporations.

Culinary Arts staff in the college’s herb garden.

The faculty is one big reason for the 37-year-old program’s success. Most of the instructors have worked all over the world. Five of the program’s six chefs are certified by the American Culinary Federation, the world’s largest professional organization for cooks and chefs. And yet Igel says there is no pretension or complaining about long hours from faculty members. “We purposely hire people who are energetic and passionate about what they do,” he notes. “Sometimes I work 70 hours a week teaching, helping students outside of class, chaperoning trips, and spending time with the Culinary Club,” he adds. “But it’s a labor of love. That’s why we’re all here.”

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on alumni

Fresh Start

What do you do in a typical day?

Anna Anderson realized she needed a new career. A flexible degree program at FVTC helped her find it.

Every day is unique and fastpaced. I work with clients face-to-face, via the telephone or Internet, selling and arranging conferences, special events and seminars, and providing cost estimates. Anna Anderson, CMP Interaction, accessibility, and exceeding their expectations I am also on the Meeting and Event are key to helping create a successful Management Advisory Committee, client event. which is a newer program. I, along with others, helped launch this offering. I also What does the CMP behind offer my time for class tours and job your name stand for? shadowing. Certified Meeting Professional. It is an internationally recognized designation for meeting professionals. The requirements for certification are based on years of professional experience and a written Outstanding Alumni Sought exam. Approximately 12,000 CMPs are We see police patrolling our certified in the world. The Radisson neighborhoods, ambulances Paper Valley has more CMPs on staff responding to emergencies, and hear than any other hospitality property in about brave men and women fighting Wisconsin. fires. We take our vehicles in for maintenance, meet with accountants, What was your FVTC and talk to nurses who guide our experience like? health. These everyday people represent the essential fabric of our Being a nontraditional student, the community: a skilled workforce. college’s class flexibility was very Chances are many of the professionals important to me. By taking classes on providing these services are Fox Valley campus or via the Internet, it enabled me Technical College alumni. to work full-time, have time for my family, and pursue a new career. FVTC is accepting nominations for its Everyone made me feel comfortable 2009 Outstanding Alumni Award. The there. That’s why I volunteer at the award was created with the following college. I want to help new students feel purpose: To recognize an FVTC the same way I did. alumnus who has demonstrated the value of technical education through You’ve served on the advisory career advancement, community committee for FVTC’s service, continued personal and educational growth, and support of Culinary Arts and Hospitality the technical college system. The program. What else have you college will honor the recipient in been involved with? May 2010. I was involved with the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Advisory Committee when I was a student and am now the To view a complete list of the industry chair. An advisory committee nomination guidelines, visit offers advice and a perspective on, or call educational issues and provides a link (920) 735-4859 for more between the college and business sectors. information.

By Meleah Maynard In the late 1990s, Anna Anderson and her husband, Lars, both professionals in the manufacturing industry, could foresee changes in the marketplace. They decided that one or both needed to change careers. Anna investigated many state colleges, and after weighing the options, she enrolled in Fox Valley Technical College’s Hospitality and Tourism program (now known as Hotel and Restaurant Management).

By taking classes on campus or via the Internet, it enabled me to work full-time, have time for my family, and pursue a new career.

Anna Anderson

After graduating in 2001, Anna landed a position at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel as an event meeting manager. She then advanced to corporate travel manager, responsible for new growth and maintaining existing clients in transient and group corporate business. We asked her to tell us about what she does and to share her experience at FVTC.

How did you decide on the hospitality industry? I discovered it was the largest and fastest-growing industry, and that it offered opportunities to travel the world or remain in your hometown. To determine which segment of the industry best fit my goals, I interviewed hospitality professionals in multiple areas and determined hotel corporate sales encompassed all my strengths.

14 Fox Valley Technical College


on the Foundation

Chapter Two Thanks to the FVTC Foundation, Xoua Moua returned to college and started on a promising new career path. By Sara Gilbert When Xoua Moua suddenly became a single mother four years ago after a divorce, she struggled to support her five children. Although she had earned a decent income as an insurance agent prior to the divorce, it wasn’t enough to support a family alone. Moua admits there were times she felt like giving up. But it was her children’s future that kept her going. They were the reason she looked into attending Fox Valley Technical College and applying for scholarships through the FVTC Foundation. Moua is working toward two degrees—IT Computer Support Specialist and IT Network Specialist. Her children may be her motivation, but it is the financial support she’s received through the FVTC Foundation that has made attending college a reality. Her classes at FVTC are entirely paid for through the GRA “Get Back to School” scholarship, the Jim Pierce scholarship, the Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation scholarship, and a Doug & Carla Salmon Foundation scholarship. The Doug & Carla Salmon Foundation scholarship, which is renewable every semester that Moua attends FVTC, was created especially for students like her. Sue Detienne, the executive director of the Salmon Foundation, says the criteria for the scholarship include a significant financial need, a strong desire to receive a college education, and a plan to pursue a career with good employment potential. “We see a lot of first-generation college

Returning to college is so much better than I thought it could be.

Xoua Moua

Xoua Moua (left) and Gloria Grandone

Giving That Works Here’s why Fox Valley Technical College students need your financial support: • Student enrollment is up about 16% • FVTC served more than 1,100 displaced workers in 2008-2009 • Also in 2008-2009, an unprecedented 940 scholarships, exceeding $600,000, were awarded to students; however, 58% of students who applied did not receive support • More than 6,000 students applied for federal and state aid last year. Only half received grants—aid that doesn’t need to be repaid • This fall, the FVTC Foundation received a record 799 scholarship applications. Discover how your support can fuel the new economy by empowering a skilled workforce. Visit to start creating a brighter future for our community. students who often have not had an easy path.” she notes. A helpful resource during Moua’s experience at FVTC has been Gloria Grandone, a scholarship counselor representing the Doug & Carla Salmon Foundation. Grandone believes that Moua is using her scholarship as a catalyst to make the most of her college experience. “She has set the bar high, earning excellent grades and establishing goals for herself,” notes Grandone. Moua has even landed a part-time job assisting students in one of the college’s computer labs, and as a result of her academic standing, earned membership in the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

Moua is an ideal recipient of the Doug & Carla Salmon Foundation scholarship and its focus on education within the family. Since she started taking classes at FVTC, her three oldest children have also decided to attend college. Moua is marveling at how well they are doing academically, and at how far her family has come in the past four years. “Yes, we’ve had some hard times, but look where we’re at now,” she says. “I am blessed. I feel like I can’t top what’s going on in my life right now. Returning to college is so much better than I thought it could be.”

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focus fall 2009



on student life

Making the Transition The new Older Wiser Learners group helps displaced workers adjust to college. Kathy LeClair remembers clearly how she felt last January when the spring semester started and she found herself sitting in a classroom for the first time in years. After asking around a bit, she learned that other students who had recently lost their jobs felt the same way. “We were wondering if we could do it,” she recalls. “We didn’t know how to study. We knew the college had great resources, but we didn’t know

We're all in the same boat, so it's good to know you're not on an island by yourself.

Kathy LeClair

Rock On! Two talented students build a robot that conquered a popular video game—while enhancing their resumes.

what to do or where to go.” LeClair, who lost her job in September 2008, thought displaced workers needed a group on campus to offer help for Kathy LeClair, Don Van Lankvelt, one another. So Crystal Campbell, and Chris Olson of OWLs. they approached Vicky Barke, Fox and mulling over other services, such as Valley Technical College’s director of tutoring, that they can offer as the Student Life. Barke helped the students group grows. LeClair already feels develop ideas, and the Older Wiser more relaxed in her new role as a Learners (OWLs) group held its first student, and as chairperson of the meeting in May. “The meeting topics OWLs group. “I think a lot of other vary,” says Barke, noting that June’s displaced workers are feeling the same event on managing finances drew more way, too. We’re all in the same boat, so than 90 people. “But we consistently it’s good to know you’re not on an have about 40 people at every island by yourself.” meeting.” Other topics have included time and stress management, technology, and For more information, visit financial aid. OWLs members are now brainstorming future meeting topics

When Mike Teigen and Chee Lor decided on an ambitious final project of creating a robot that could play the popular “Guitar Hero” video game, their instructor, Jon Stenerson, wasn’t at all concerned. Both Teigen and Lor had

“Guitar Hero” robot inventors Chee Lor (left) and Mike Teigen.

16 Fox Valley Technical College

excelled in Fox Valley Technical College’s Automated Manufacturing Systems program; the project was simply an opportunity to put what they’d learned to the test. The idea came to them, Lor says, as they searched the Internet for ideas. They found some videos of automatic “Guitar Hero” programs where “little computer bots” seemingly played the game by using software to monitor the game’s source code. “We decided to make a robot that didn’t cheat by using this method,” Lor notes. “We wanted to create one that utilized a vision system to simulate how a human plays the game.” As they worked, Lor and Teigen filled three composition books with sketches before creating a design that relied on an integrated vision system and programmable logic controller. The system could “watch” the screen as a human would. “We built everything from scratch,” Teigen recalls. “We never did anything like that before, so closer to the end we started using cardboard to make models, as well as CAD drawings.

First Place at National IT Competition Members of Fox Valley Technical College’s student chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) earned first place at the organization’s national conference in Oklahoma City. The winning team won top honors in the Graphic Communications category by creating a print and Web advertising campaign, including an overall brand design and message. The first-place entry competed against 15 other teams, including the likes of Purdue University and the University of Texas-Arlington. More than 600 participants representing colleges and universities throughout the United States competed in several categories.

For more information about student clubs and organizations at FVTC, visit

Members of FVTC’s first-place team include (left to right) Thomas Willecke, student; Brenda Wilz, advisor and IT instructor; Michael Sweigart, student; and Liudmila Vakulenko, student.

This way we made sure everything would fit before we cut the metal and put it together.” Once they created the long list of needed parts, Stenerson helped the students contact local businesses to secure donated items. For example, one area manufacturer of control and automation systems provided a vision system at a significant discount. The company also sent technicians to campus to run demonstrations of the vision system, I think this project will get high school which is very students excited about automated systems. industrial in nature. The same You can go anywhere with this degree. system and controls could be Mike Teigen used to inspect parts moving along a conveyor. Once completed, the project generated some national media attention, including coverage in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. “I think this project will get high school students excited about automated systems,” says Teigen, who recently accepted a position with the FBI. “You can go anywhere with this degree.” For more information, visit

focus fall 2009



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Fox Valley Technical College Focus Magazine Fall 2009  
Fox Valley Technical College Focus Magazine Fall 2009