•	Mid-State Technical College celebrated its graduating Fuse Your Future students on the Wisconsin Rapids Campus, June 30, 2022. Pictured are the graduates present at the event along with Mid-State staff and sponsoring partners.

‘Fuse Your Future’ welding program completers recognized in graduation celebration

July 5, 2022

A new summer program, made possible by funding from the State of Wisconsin Workforce Innovation Grant award, provided six area high school students with an extraordinary hands-on opportunity in the high-demand field of welding. On June 30, Mid-State recognized the achievements of its first Fuse Your Future cohort with a special celebration on the College’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus. Students completed four credits in the areas of print reading and gas metal arc welding during the month of June.

“After high school I plan to pursue a career in welding,” said Trina Raflik, an incoming junior at Stevens Point Area High School with plans to pursue a degree in Welding after graduation. “These course opportunities have allowed me to gain experience in welding and get a jump start on my degree while in high school, saving me time and money.” Raflik also competes in SkillsUSA competitions for welding.

Fuse your Future is all about providing short-term quality experiences in the welding profession for high school students, according to Mark Snyder, employee development manager at A&B Process Systems, a business unit of JBT. Snyder serves on Mid-State’s Welding advisory committee and is the College’s CWIMA (Central Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance) liaison. 

“This first-time summer event was extremely successful and, over-time, will build and sustain the pipeline of skilled professionals to keep our industry and manufacturing, in general, thriving in central Wisconsin,” Snyder said. “This is a great opportunity for students to become familiar with a career in welding and earn credits towards a welding credential while still in high school.”

“My high school does not offer many welding courses, so Fuse your Future is a great opportunity for me to take additional welding courses, “said Adriana Freer, incoming junior at Nekoosa High School who also plans to pursue a career in welding. “I am now planning on taking courses at night during the school year so I can work towards a welding degree while in high school.”

Mid-State Workforce Development & Community Relations Vice President Dr. Bobbi Damrow shared that the no-cost summer program was included in the college’s Wisconsin Innovation Grant award. The grant is a collaboration between the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and focused on initiatives to help solve workforce challenges, which includes training and/or reskilling for in-demand jobs. 

“We are so grateful for the opportunities this grant affords us in terms of new opportunities to serve our district,” Damrow said. “What was quite unique about this opportunity was that five of the six students were female and exploring a non-traditional occupation (NTO), in which 75 percent or more of the workforce is of the opposite gender. Introducing non-traditional occupations to our students is key to a sustainable workforce in central Wisconsin.”

Mid-State Dean of Applied Technology Ryan Kawski said that the Fuse Your Future program, instructed by experienced Mid-State faculty Aaron Wulk and Russ Moore, was modeled after the successful Metal Mania program, a staple at Mid-State for four years through a partnership with CWIMA. Metal Mania is focused on gaining experience and credit in the machine tool profession and is currently underway at the college. Each of the programs is a pathway into a technical degree at Mid-State and a gateway to a high-demand career. 

For more information on pathway opportunities please contact Jackie Esselman, dean of recruitment and admissions at Mid-State Technical College, at 715-422-5413 or jackie.esselman@mstc.edu