Photo of 3M officials receiving award

System News Releases

3M Prairie du Chien, SWTC partnership recognized

November 13, 2018 | Conor Smyth

[Photo: 3M Human Resources Manager Shelly Gruber and Plant Manager Steven Kleist accept the award from WTCS Board President S. Mark Tyler. Also pictured are Southwest Tech President Jason Wood and System President Morna Foy. Photo by Dan Arneson, WTCS.]

Fennimore, WI - The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (Southwest Tech) honored 3M Prairie du Chien on Tuesday evening with a ‘Futuremaker Partner’ award. Among other efforts, the partners have collaborated on the “Grow Your Own” workforce initiative, developing mentoring and internship opportunities that promote career awareness for students and create a talent pipeline for employers.

Under its global Commitment to Education initiative, 3M Corporation partners with schools, universities and community organizations to ensure students and teachers have the tools, resources and knowledge they need to succeed. Locally, 3M Prairie du Chien has long been a champion of Southwest Tech and its students and graduates. It is committed to increasing student achievement in STEM and business curriculum, as well as attracting, retaining and developing students in other college programs. The company also promotes equity by driving access to quality education for all communities.

“At 3M in Prairie du Chien, and with local industry in general, we see a gap between our needs and the qualified skilled labor pool, specifically in Electro-Mechanical Technology. Candidates need the general education, foundational knowledge, skills and abilities to maintain the high-tech, automated, smart technology equipment going into our manufacturing operations now and in the future,” said 3M Prairie du Chien Plant Manager Steven Kleist.

“Partnering with the Prairie du Chien Area School District and Southwest Tech to create the programs and tools needed to ignite interest in smart technology and to recruit and develop highly qualified candidates is a wise investment in the future success of our operations.”

This year, Southwest Tech collaborated with 3M and Prairie du Chien High School to establish the Grow Your Own sustainable workforce model. Focused on manufacturing careers, the model gives area high school students a chance to learn industry-relevant skills and principles that apply to a number of in-demand careers. In this way, Southwest Tech is helping bridge the gap between a retiring workforce and the next generation of highly-skilled technicians.

Southwest Tech instructors work with high school teachers to assure academic rigor and valuable learning outcomes, easing students’ transition from the high school course to Southwest Tech’s Electro-Mechanical Technology program. In addition, 3M Prairie du Chien has committed to regional partnerships that provide career mentoring, internships and manufacturing career exploration. The work of these partners will not only sustain this program, it will help to drive long-term workforce and economic development.

“At a time of rapid changes in education and the nature of work, it has never been more important that our employers work closely and routinely with K-12 and postsecondary education partners,” said WTCS Board President S. Mark Tyler. “3M’s close partnership with Southwest Tech is another great example of the way forward.”

3M Prairie du Chien offers scholarships to local high school students planning to attend Southwest Tech and consistently hires Southwest Tech graduates, while 3M team members serve on the Electro-Mechanical Technology program advisory committee and volunteer as robot competition judges.

“We’re fortunate to have a visionary and generous partner like 3M,” said Southwest Tech President Jason Wood. “Steven and his team actively work with the college to assure our programs are cutting edge and to deliver valuable instruction for 3M team members. I’m confident our partnership will endure, with each of us continuing to foster the other’s success.”