TECh Award - 2019

Technical Education Champion Award
Cummins Emission Solutions

The Boards Association presents several important awards each year. A number of years ago, we began a very special award, the Technical Education Champion, or “TECh,” Award. The TECh award goes to the heart of what the colleges are all about in our communities. It recognizes key community and industry leaders who demonstrate an exemplary level of partnership with us to promote technical education and economic development.

The Technical Education Champion award is based on five criteria:

  • The nominee’s promotion of the local college;
  • Its financial support to the district and individuals associated with the college;
  • Its utilization of the college for employee training, and by hiring our students;
  • Its advocacy on the college's behalf; and,
  • The nominee’s enhancement of the community as a whole.

We were honored to review a number of nominations for this year’s TECh Award. From the nominees, the committee selects the TECh Award winners.

This Year's Winner: Cummins Emission Solutions

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is pleased to submit a nomination for the Technical Education Champion Award for Cummins Emission Solutions of Mineral Point. Cummins has demonstrated an exemplary level of partnership to Southwest Tech with financial support, its utilization of the college for employee training, hiring our students, enhancing the community and our district. Cummins is also using our relationship with them as a model for their plants in other countries to recreate with their local educational systems.

Our partnership with Cummins started in 2005 when they started supporting the Southwest Tech Foundation Annual Fund. Since that time our Business and Industry Services team has worked with Cummins to provide supervisory leadership training as they prepared to increase their plant operations and start a third shift. Cummins has also worked with our Career Center, participated in our Career Fairs, led mock interviews with our welding students and have consistently hired our welders. They also work with their employees’ schedules to allow them to attend class. In relation to promotion and advocacy, Cummins has been a wonderful champion for us by allowing us into the plant to interview and photograph a current Cummins employee and recent Southwest Tech graduate and featuring him in our annual Southwest Tech calendar. Several employees also participated in a Facebook Live interview by our marketing team, and they consistently have a presence at various events to show their support of our students and the College.

In 2015 Cummins Emissions Solutions started funding a named scholarship called the Cummins Emission Solutions Scholarship specifically to help fund the education of students in the programs of CNC, Electro-Mechanical Technology, Industrial Mechanic, Instrumentation and Controls Technology, Precision Machining and Welding. In 2018, Cummins sent additional funding to increase the award amount of this scholarship because they felt it was important to show greater support to our students and their education.

In addition to scholarships, the most impactful partnership between Southwest Tech, Cummins Emission Solutions and Cummins Corporate is their support of our Mobile Welding Lab. In the fall of 2016 Derek Dachelet, Executive Dean of Industry, Trades and Agriculture along with Kim Schmelz, Director of External Relations and Alumni Development approached Cummins Emissions Solutions staff to ask for their support of our new Mobile Welding Lab. The intent of the lab was to build the gap between the lack of career and technical offerings and the need for skilled trades in high schools. Our goal at Southwest Tech was to increase interest in skilled trades and welding to high school and adult learners, gain student interest and college credits towards continuing his/her education at Southwest Tech and be entrepreneurial in how Southwest Tech delivers educational opportunities to students and employers across the district. One way we proposed doing this was to host competitions that we termed “Pro-Ams” between sponsors of the Mobile Welding Lab, the “pros” and students, “the amateurs.” The plan was to engage high school students and pair them with mentors in a four-day course using the mobile welding lab to see who we could name the top pro welder and the top amateur welder.

In the conversations with Cummins, Mr. Dachelet and Ms. Schmelz shared that there was also interest from the Department of Corrections in using the mobile welding lab to train minimum-security inmates. Cummins expressed great interest in this project because of the unique alignment to their global priorities of education and social justice. In partnership with and guidance from Cummins Emissions Solutions, specifically Bobby Lee, Cummins Off-Highway Quality Programmer and Community Involvement Team Leader, a grant was written to the Cummins Foundation for support of competition funding, instructor costs, project coordination, marketing, supplies including steel, safety, meals for students, plant and campus tour transportation and a generator for the mobile lab. In the spring of 2017 the Southwest Tech Foundation was awarded a grant from the Cummins Foundation for $90,699 to cover the entire request of the proposal. In a press release written for the ribbon cutting of the Mobile Welding Lab, Mr. Lee stated, “The Mobile Welding Lab is a very innovative idea that will help bring professionals and standards to area students. The lab will certainly help to spark area students’ interest in the welding trade while giving them a hands-on experience. Cummins Mineral Point is very excited to be associated with this project.” To date the mobile welding lab has made a great impact including working with 43 high school students at locations in Mineral Point, WI Prairie du Chien, WI and Elkader, IA with an additional 16 that will participate in a two–day course on May 2-3, 2019, in Muscoda, WI. In addition 34 employees have received training in AWS certification and 32 inmates and gone through welding certification training in the lab. Southwest Tech AWS certificated welding instructors led all of these trainings and competitions.

In addition to the grant award for the mobile welding lab, Bobby Lee contacted the Southwest Tech Foundation in the fall of 2017 about applying for an impact and sustainability award offered through the Cummins Foundation due to the results and accomplishments with the Mobile Welding Lab. The results of this grant were an additional $5,000 from the Cummins Foundation to award as scholarships to students in the Welding program.

To date, the Southwest Tech Foundation has received $$99,229.00 from Cummins and the Cummins Foundation in order to better train and support our students. We are proud of this partnership and feel that Cummins Emissions Solutions is very deserving of the Technical Education Champion Award.

Former Award Winners

TECh Award
Year Winner City
1993 GMC Janesville
1994 Banta Corporation - Cal Aurand, CEO Menasha
1995 Doboy Packaging Machinery New Richmond
1996 J.P. Cullen Janesville
1997 Miller Electric Manufacturing Madison
1998 Kell Container and the Kell Family Chippewa Falls
1999 Webcrafters and the Frautschi Family Madison
2000 Dr. H. Victor Baldi Appleton
2001 Fred W. Lenz Blue River
2002 J.J. Keller & Associates Neenah
2003 Ministry Health Care Milwaukee
2004 SC Johnson Racine
2005 Aspirus Wausau
2006 Workforce Connections La Crosse
2007 OEM Fabricators Woodville
2008 Judy Jorgensen Waukesha
2009 ProHealth Care, Inc. Waukesha
2010 QuadGraphics, Inc. Sussex
2011 Pat Schramm Madison
2012 Kewaunee Power Station - Dominion Kewaunee
2013 Mike Weller - Miller Electric Appleton
2014 John Miller - Miller St. Nazianz St. Nazianz
2015 Jim Sommer - Service Motor Company Dale
2016 J.P. Cullen Janesville
2017 Greenheck Fan Corp. Schofield
2018 Rick Recktenwald Clintonville