Building skills in Clintonville
FVTC partnership benefits students, community
By Casey Britten
Two miles down the road from their high school, nine Clintonville juniors and seniors attend classes at the FVTC Clintonville Regional Center.
They are learning valuable hands-on skills in industrial maintenance, and earning college credit at the same time.
“These classes are giving me skills that will apply outside of this building, right now—whether that’s at work, home or at school in the future,” said student Hunter Sirna.
Now in its third year, the grant-funded Automation and Engineering Academy is a partnership between the high school, area employers and Fox Valley Technical College.
FVTC offers industrial maintenance and automation technology classes, and students complete an Industrial Maintenance Certificate (IMC), allowing them to find a full-time job right after graduation.
The program began in 2019 after FVTC Clintonville Regional Center Manager Kim Manteuffel and Automation Technology Department Chair Jason Vosters pitched the idea to Clintonville High School and local businesses like Walker Forge, Creative Converting, and Deluxe Plastics.
Program helps students, local companies
“The IMC program is a great benefit to our students and community,” says Clintonville High School Principal Kelly Zeinert.
“Students leave the program with skills that will benefit them in the future. Parents love the opportunity to earn college credits here in town. And our local employers are excited about the partnership.”
Amy Goerlinger manages Human Resources at Walker Forge.
“Our hope is that any exposure to opportunities in manufacturing will result in a choice to pursue a career in the field,”
Goerlinger said. “Even if the student doesn’t choose manufacturing, the IMC program helps them to be a better employee or student in whatever area they choose to pursue.”
This innovative approach is turning heads. In 2021, the Clintonville Public School District earned the Education Innovation Award by the NEW Manufacturing Alliance for this program.
FVTC wants to use the model as a benchmark for other academies through the region, explains director of K-12 partnerships Mary Hansen.
“There is interest from school districts in models like this,” she said. “Regional areas are dependent on employer-driven needs,” Hansen said. “What skills are needed in these towns? For Clintonville, it was automation. For Wautoma, it’s healthcare. For other areas it might be something else. The high school may not have a tech ed teacher on staff who can teach these skills, so that’s where FVTC comes in.”
“FVTC has been incredible to work with,” said Zeinert.
Learn more about earning college credit in high school at www.fvtc.edu/EarlyCollegeCredit