• WisBusiness

Monday, April 13, 2015

MaryBeth Matzek: Manufacturing app powerful tool for workers, students


By MaryBeth Matzek
Jay Stulo, director of learning innovations at Fox Valley Technical College, simply calls GAMMA+ a "tutor in your back pocket" for manufacturers.

GAMMA+, which stands for Greater Advanced Manufacturing Mobile Apps, provides anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer access to a series of tutorials and learning materials focused on a wide range of manufacturing skills. FVTC launched the program three years ago after receiving a $2.9 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to address gaps in manufacturing education. Today, the site has more than 500 short tutorials on a wide range of topics from basic math needed in manufacturing and how to write a professional e-mail to welding and machinist basics.

"All the tutorials are very short ā€“ just five or six minutes and are great for our students as well as people already working in manufacturing, but are looking for a refresher or trying to learn something new," Stulo says.

During the past year, GAMMA+ registered 117,239 page views from 13,819 unique visitors. "We get hits from all over the world," Stulo says. "We've gotten hits from all 50 states and 139 other nations."

In pulling GAMMA+ together, Stulo says the college, which is headquartered in Appleton, turned to local manufacturers and asked what skills they thought employees needed to know. The site is broken into five different sections ā€“ electronics, automation, machine tool, welding and mathematics. There's also digital flashcards to help with the learning process.

"Our staff helped us put the tutorials together and some faculty are using them in class to teach and reinforce material, too," Stulo says.

Beyond physical skills ā€“ such as how to use a sine bar, Stulo says manufacturers also talked about the need to teach soft skills, including how to write professional emails and work together as a team.

"That's something we keep hearing about more and more," he says. "Workers have the technical skills, but not necessarily those soft skills that help them be productive employees."

To check out GAMMA+ for yourself, click here: http://www.wisc-online.com/gammaplus

In-school clinic

Green Bay-based Bellin Health is building a new in-school clinic at Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center. It's the latest in-school clinic for Bellin, which partners with the school district and the district's insurance company on the project.

The clinic serves teachers, staff members, spouses and dependents on-site with little wait time. It saves money for the district and insurance company while costing the patient nothing or a very low fee. Besides saving money, school officials hope it will allow staff members and teachers to get medical care more quickly and on-site so they don't need to take off too much time from work.

Students will not use the clinic, which should be complete by the end of the month. In addition to Peshtigo, Bellin has in-school clinics in the Ashwaubenon, West De Pere and Howard-Suamico school districts.

Expansion mode

Have you ever seen one of those TVs embedded in a mirror? Did you know they were made by a company in Green Bay? Seura, which was co-founded by Tim and Gretchen Gilbertson in 2003, announced this week it plans to double the size of its office and manufacturing facility. The company, which not only makes those TV-in-mirrors, but a host of other products, including specialty lighted mirrors and indoor and outdoor TVs, hopes the project will be complete this summer. Once the new space is completed, Tim Gilbertson says Seura will be able to double the manufacturing and assembly space for its lighted mirrors.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.


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