New Moraine Park programs matching needs of local employers

by speitz31. October 2011 04:03

New programming options for students at Wisconsin’s technical colleges are a good indication of emerging employment opportunities. Consistent with the past decade, technical college graduates are experiencing employment rates of nearly 90 percent within 6 months of graduation. This is the result of employer partnerships, which lead to career programs matching the needs and demands of local employers.

Moraine Park Technical College is home to 56 advisory committees, providing a strong bond between the College and local business and industry employers. “Moraine Park is fortunate to have dedicated individuals serving on our advisory committees,” said Sheila Ruhland, Moraine Park president. “Committee members make recommendations as to new and revised curriculum program and services. Input from the many individuals who serve on Moraine Park’s advisory committees is valuable and assures programs are current and up-to-date as indicated by the three new programs starting this fall.”

Dick Beyer is the Service Manager at Holiday Automotive in Fond du Lac and has served on Moraine Park’s automotive advisory committee for ten years. He has seen many changes in automotive technology throughout his career and enjoys serving on the advisory committee because he can share those industry trends with Moraine Park leaders.

“It’s important that we commit to these students,” said Beyer. “I employ several Moraine Park students and through my involvement on the advisory committee, I know these students are being trained and educated to fit the latest trends in the industry. They are highly skilled and ready to hit the ground running once they start in the workforce.”

With the help of advisory committee members like Beyer, three new Moraine Park Technical College programs were created with the needs of local employers in mind: Interactive Media Design and associate of applied science (AAS) degrees in Fabrication Technologies and Automotive Technologies.

Moraine Park saw an evolution in media design and interactive technologies in the marketplace and, in response, kicked off the Interactive Media Design program in fall 2011. “This is a high-growth area in which demand is on the rise for professionals who can use animation and video combined with Web technologies,” said Dan Ensalaco, vice president of academics and student affairs.

Interactive Media Design is bringing a method by which students can gain necessary skills to pursue a career in digital media. Graduates of the program will be skilled multimedia specialists capable of multimedia design. In addition, graduates will learn to create digital media content used in Web sites, advertising, CDs, DVDs, animations, presentations and more. Already, Moraine Park offers Graphics Communications and Web Designer/Developer programs. With the creation of the Interactive Media Design AAS degree, new courses will be developed for all three programs in order to showcase new, leading-edge technology.

The Fabrication Technologies program – a blend of welding, metal fabrication and general education courses – includes classes in manufacturing, planning, production, lean manufacturing, metallurgy, math, physics and programming. Graduates of the AAS degree will be skilled in automation and emerging technologies aimed at improving productivity, quality and efficiency.

Thanks to the new program, graduates of Welding or Metal Fabrication technical diplomas have the option of immediately entering the workforce or continuing their education in pursuit of an AAS degree in Fabrication Technologies. Or, students can start their education by enrolling directly in the AAS degree program.

Sharing the same goal of generating multiple career pathways is the new Automotive Technology AAS degree program. Graduates holding the Automotive Technician technical diploma can now easily pursue the associate degree without repeating core program courses or credits. Other students may want to directly enter the AAS degree program and then possibly pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university or college.

“The new offering satisfies students who want to begin their careers as technicians and later move into sales or management by completing the AAS degree in Automotive Technology and a bachelor’s degree in business or leadership,” says Ensalaco. “Through this type of programming, we are addressing the need for, and issues related to, lifelong learning.”

As Wisconsin’s economy evolves, the technical colleges use program development to foster continuous improvement and ensure relevance to employers. For more information on Moraine Park and the College’s new programs, visit