The welding program at Waunakee High School is getting a boost, starting with a $25,000 grant from the Endres Manufacturing Foundation.
According to District Administrator Randy Guttenberg, school officials are working with Madison College to create dual-credit options for welding for its students to be launched in the fall of 2019. The money from Endres will go toward equipment upgrades.
Rob France, a technology education instructor, and Jeff Willauer, an industrial technology instructor, wrote up the grant proposal to Endres. Guttenberg said France is proposing three different welding classes with dual-credit options.
The $25,000 in in-kind donations from Endres covers almost all of equipment purchases needed to meet the standards for such a program. There is $155 left over, which school officials say can be paid for with Career and Technical Education grant money.
Also, $2,395 going toward a digital readout system and installation fees will be looked at next year under the CTE grant.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $49,550, but that would include a $22,000 Miller Augmented Reality Unit. Endres is encouraging the district to buy it, according to Guttenberg, who described it as a virtual reality device. It allows students to safely experience different welding situations they wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part in, such as underwater welding. At the same time, it also would assist special populations, including at-risk students, special education pupils and female students, according to school officials.
It would give kids the opportunity to apply things they learned in class in a virtual reality environment,” said Guttenberg. “Endres thought it would be a huge enhancement to the program.”
Funding for the Augmented Reality Unit could come from a variety of sources, including the technology education budget, district funds and other places. A total of $5,000 in CTE grant money could applied toward the purchase, leaving a balance of $17,000.
“There’s got to be a way to get that $22,000,” said Board Member Jack Heinemann.
Heinemann asked if the district could start working toward the dual-credit welding options without the Augmented Reality Unit.
Guttenberg responded, “I think that’s a piece we can work toward.”
Guttenberg explained the curriculum being developed is a year away for a full rollout in the fall of 2019, although the district will start using it this upcoming fall.
Board Member Dave Boetcher wondered about the electrical capabilities of the Innovation Center with regard to the welding program.
Guttenberg said that there is some work that would have to be done in-house by the team of Director of Facilities Joe Bellamo. The administration is in the process of figuring out the dollar amount for the work, according to Guttenberg.