2011 Educator of the Year
Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
Donating equipment to Fox Valley Technical College is more than a philanthropic gesture for Miller Electric Mgf. Co.; it’s an investment in the company’s future.
“It’s a cliché but it’s true,” said Mike Weller, president of Miller Electric. “It’s a win-win scenario. Fox Valley Technical College gets to use state-of-the-art equipment to train the future of the workforce, and we have access to state-of-the-art training.”
The company’s $1 million equipment donation to the school is the latest move in a 25-year partnership, Weller said.
Housed in the Fox Valley Technical College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in Oshkosh, the equipment is a cornerstone of an expanded welding curriculum designed to meet the needs of local manufacturers.
One of the challenges in meeting the workforce needs for welders, Weller said, is the investment required for technology to train new welders.
“Every three years we change our equipment over,” Weller said.
Because the technology changes, Weller said, there is ongoing upgrading, and it’s important that Fox Valley Technical College have the latest and greatest for training new welders and for ongoing training for those already in the field.
While new graduates of the program likely won’t work at Miller Electric, which produces welding equipment, Weller said, they will be employed by the company’s customers.
For its current workforce, Weller said, the college provided customized training in everything from team dynamics and problem solving to quality and marketing programs.
“It’s a way we remain competitive,” he said. “It helps our team have the capacity to grow.”
The growing need in the Fox Valley’s metals manufacturing sector is the reason for the school’s program expansion, said Dr. Susan May, president of Fox Valley Technical College.
“They expressed that they simply did not have enough skilled labor coming out of our system,” she said, “and they had a huge demand for welders and fabricators.”
The partnership with Miller is crucial in the college’s ability to meet the challenge, May said.
“With this new facility and the partnership with Miller,” she said, “we will be able to address that need.”
The two entities long relationship has been a source of pride for Miller, Weller said.
“We’re a U.S.-based company helping support the future of the U.S. workforce through Fox Valley Technical College,” he said. “It’s a great partnership in that way.”
— Melissa Rigney Baxter