For Hub City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — A new mobile manufacturing lab from Mid-State Technical College has debuted at the college’s locations and soon will make appearances around the area.
The lab, known as the MIKE — for Manufacturing, Innovation, Knowledge, Experience — was funded in part by a $150,000 grant from the Wisconsin Technical College System. The MIKE is a refurbished 2002 Freightliner coach outfitted with the latest technology and equipment to deliver its manufacturing lesson.
Participants may design a part or object at one of several computer workstations equipped with AutoCAD design software. Next, they can make a prototype using the rapid-prototyping 3D printer or vertical machining center. Their part is then subjected to the computerized inspection arm, a laser scanner for making a digitized 3D image of the prototype, and a thermal forming machine to make a mold out of the machined or printed part.
“When it comes to choosing a career, people tend to think of manufacturing as a dirty, greasy, and often secondary option,” said Al Javoroski, dean of technical and industrial programs at Mid-State. “The MIKE lets people experience firsthand how high-tech manufacturing today combines innovation, design, and quality build. The resulting product may solve a complex problem, launch into outer space, or even save a life.”
A number of Mid-State manufacturing programs are represented, but what is demonstrated inside the MIKE is more about the future of manufacturing in central Wisconsin. By inviting area schools, local businesses, and communities to explore the MIKE, Mid-State aims to make the next generation aware of the possibilities and eager to pursue the variety of innovative career options in those industries.
“The full potential of manufacturing involves designers and technicians, but there is so much more,” Javoroski said. “New industries and employers will also need accountants, marketers, sales reps, and business managers in order to be successful. The MIKE is about the opportunity for all in central Wisconsin if we can open people’s minds to the possibilities and invest in the education these new industries demand.”
Mid-State debuted the MIKE with special red-carpet events at its four locations from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. The MIKE will be available for scheduled visits at other locations this spring, including area middle and high schools for hands-on exploration and local businesses for incumbent worker training.