By Brandi Makuski
Thanks to four local companies, Stevens Point Area High School is now home to a brand new part-milling machine.
According to Brigitta Altmann-Austin, assistant principal at SPASH, the school wanted to order the contraption, known as a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machine, for years.
“But the door where the machine tool room is located wasn’t big enough to get the machine into,” Altmann-Austin said. “We were having issues with getting the door widened, so these businesses pooled their resources together and said, ‘We will construct the door’.”
The four businesses — Marten Machining, Ellis Construction, The Worth Company and Pointe Precision — all partnered together to provide $12,000 in donated labor and materials to widen a rear door, located near the school’s machine tool room.
All four companies work in some fashion with technical education students at SPASH, and all four also participate in the annual Heavy Metal Bus Tour, which takes eighth grade students on tours of regional manufacturing facilities each fall so they can learn more about the skilled trades.
According to Andrew Halverson, himself a SPASH graduate who now works as Vice President of Business Development for Ellis Construction, the donation was a no-brainer.
“We were thrilled to play a role in giving back our services to a great endeavor that will allow for wonderful workforce development and growth for these students,” Halverson said. “There will be several thousand jobs available in metal manufacturing in the Central Wisconsin area over the next 10 years — this machine will allow these students to have the skills to enter those jobs successfully.”
Halverson said the door widening was complete, and the machine successfully installed, on Aug. 29 — just in time for the the new school year, which began Sept. 1.
Alan Marten, CEO of Marten Machining — who is well-known for promoting the skilled trades in local schools — said his company became involved because the project will help secure the future local job market.
“Seeing this great group of businesses come together for a worthwhile cause like this is so inspiring,” Marten said. “To be able to predict the future you have to build it — and this is a great example of not only building and modifying a physical structure, we are helping build the future through the skills this CNC machine will give these students.”
The CNC machine to be used in the instruction of students interested in metal machining and metal manufacturing, according to Halverson, who added keeping interest high in the skilled trades will “help drive forward private sector manufacturing”.
Altmann-Austin said the school purchased the machine for $35,000 with funds it was awarded via a federal Perkins grant. The package includes machine setup, tooling and professional development, she added.
*This is the first in an ongoing series on the SPASH Technical Education Dept. during the 2016-176 school year.