Less than two years after graduating from Bloomer High School, Riley Henneman stood next to the rubber mixer he built at the Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing Education Center. The second-year Automation Engineering Technology student was prepared to demonstrate it to visitors at CVTC’s Manufacturing Show Thursday, March 12.

“It’s crazy the stuff you learn in two years,” Henneman said. “When you come in your first year there’s a lot to take in, and by the time you’re done, you have a wealth of knowledge.”

Showing the public the high level of skill and technology in today’s manufacturing is one of the purposes of CVTC’s annual Manufacturing Show. The show drew high school students, parents and community members alike for a firsthand look at modern manufacturing through CVTC’s Automation Engineering Technology, Industrial Mechanical Technician, Machine Tooling Technics, Manufacturing Engineering Technologist, Mechanical Design, and Welding programs.

CVTC Automation Engineering Technology students Riley Henneman of Bloomer, left, and George Friberg of Elk Mound display the rubber mixer they built for their class project to Austin Pabst of Ellsworth, who is currently a student at CVTC’s River Falls campus, at the CVTC Manufacturing Show March 12.

Over 50 local manufacturing companies were also represented with display tables highlighting their products and job opportunities. Earlier in the day, companies recruited CVTC students at a manufacturing career fair. Henneman explained his scaled-down rubber mixer is designed to melt and merge different types of rubber to create a new rubber product with specific properties for a given task. “It has electronics, programmable logic controllers (PLC), a mechanical conveyer system, pneumatic valves and electric relays,” he said.

Nearby, Alan Windsor, 48, of Spring Valley was demonstrating a game he created in which the competitors who reacted fastest to a changing light would crush the other person’s egg. “The instructor said to make an egg crusher and I had to follow certain criteria,” he said. “It has a DC power
supply, PLCs and a solenoid for the pneumatic system. Then I have optical sensors and stack lights.” Originally from Plum City, Windsor enrolled at CVTC after retiring from a U.S. Army career.

Stepping up to play the game was Isabel Gibson of Eau Claire, who came with her mother, Renee, and brother, Charlie. Renee said they enjoy the Manufacturing Show and other events at CVTC. “I used t work at an agency that partners with CVTC,” she said. “I take the kids to the open houses and events like this.”
Many parents brought their children who are considering enrolling in CVTC programs. Dena Boiteau of Chippewa Falls was with her son, Chris Engel, and his father, Bryn Engel. “This is an opportunity for Chris to see his options,” she said. “Right now he’s enrolled in Machine Tool for next year, but he may change.”

“This is an opportunity to show off the technology of modern manufacturing,” said CVTC Dean of Engineering and Skilled Trades Jeff Sullivan. “The Manufacturing Show brings together alumni and people in the area, and shows off student projects. Our manufacturing partners come in and show the things they’re doing.”

FEATURED PHOTO: CVTC Industrial Mechanic Instructor Tim Tewalt explains some of the functions of a robotic production line to Chippewa Falls High School senior Chris Engel while Chris’s father, Bryn Engel and mother, Dena Boiteau look on at the CVTC Manufacturing Show March 12.

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