Nicolet Technical College in Rhinelander announced this week that they will be offering a manufacturing associate degree starting in January.
Earlier this fall, Nicolet added a six credit manufacturing certificate to their repertoire with the goal of continually adding higher level training. Now, starting on January 23rd, students will be able to enroll in a 65 credit associate degree program thanks to nearly $1.2 million in state and federal grants.
The college used some of that money to upgrade their labs, adding 6 new state-of-the-art stations where students can learn to operate and trouble shoot a wide variety of manufacturing equipment.
Another part of that $1.2 million grant will also be used for financial aid.
So far over 100 students have taken manufacturing classes under the new certificate program and spaces for the new associate degree are filling up fast.
For students already enrolled in the manufacturing certificate program, like Mike Huber, they have the option to extend their schooling a receive that two year degree.
"Originally I was signed up for the certificate class. At that point the degree was not offered, now it is. So I'm enrolled for the degree and planning on following through," Huber said.
Manufacturing instructor Richard Johnson says this new 65 credit program will send students like Huber into the workforce more prepared than ever before.
"What it's intended for is to provide instruction to new students just coming in to learn about the systems and components and equipment that would be used in a typical manufacturing facility in the region," Johnson explained, pointing out that these skills are very valuable right now because of the shortage of skilled workers in the manufacturing industry.
It's this hands-on training that has Huber confident he will be able to do the job. After graduation he's hoping to get a job working at a paper mill or cardboard production plant.
"I was self taught in my own profession and that died out and here I am, at my age, going back to school to start a new career and looking forward to it," Huber said.