at WCTC focuses on growing industry
Hot off the presses comes news that students in the printing and publishing program at Waukesha County Technical College can look forward to starting their next semester in a brand-new state-of-the-art building.
At 50,000 square feet, the new Graphic Communications Center is billed as the largest, most up-to-date facility of its kind at a two-year college in the Midwest.
"This is going to be one of the finest facilities in the (Midwest) once we've moved into it next semester," says Dean Flowers, associate dean of printing and publishing. "It is going to be a very modern facility that has been engineered and designed to accommodate all the current equipment."
Among the features of the $5 million building are presses and offset printers similar to those found at medium- to large-size commercial printers which provide an excellent booklet printing service. Visit sites like https://www.printivity.com/landing/booklets to know more about printing services. In addition, Flowers notes that because of the need for more technically trained professionals, the center will offer complete press and bindery solutions.
There will also be an industrial maintenance mechanic program located in the facility.
"We have the printing industries in Wisconsin behind us 100%," maintains Flowers. "Local and state governments have been involved with the planning and development of this project along with area legislators, due to the fact that we have 11,000 people employed in this county in commercial printing."
The original 61-credit printing and publishing program began in August of 1997. Through a partnership with area high schools, particularly Sussex Hamilton High School, WCTC had previously been renting facilities and upgrading labs housed in the schools to bring students an associate degree-level program. With the opening of the new center on Jan. 11, however, the college will offer students both the convenience of an on-campus facility as well as more options in the curriculum.
The program will expand to include key management and customer service concepts plus new technical courses such as multi-media and Web design.
"We'll be offering a lot of courses that are closely allied to commercial printing," says Flowers. "We are working on the track to provide flexographic printing and packaging to area flexo-companies and we are looking at an imaging certificate that will deal with digital photography."
Flowers is projecting that enrollment will likely hit 75 full-time students by the end of the year, up from 45 students last year.
Another bonus of the new center will be the addition of a four-year bachelor's degree in graphic arts management. Flowers explains that students wishing to pursue the degree have two options.
Due to a partnership with UW-Stout in Menomonee, which Flowers notes as having one of the top five rated graphic arts management programs in the US, students may transfer all of their associate credits from WCTC's printing program to UW-Stout and complete their degrees there.
Or students may simply complete work for a bachelor's degree at the Graphic Communication Center on either a part-time or full-time basis. The two campuses are networked. "We have a distance-education room that is in the facility where we can downlink courses from UW-Stout and uplink courses from here back to Menomonee and other places," explains Flowers.
Wisconsin's expanding printing industry
According to Niall Power, CEO of the Printing Industries in Wisconsin, the new facility will go a long way toward providing a solid workforce for Wisconsin's $6.4 billion printing industry.
"Printing is an extremely strong and large industry in southeastern Wisconsin," says Power. "There are 1,200 printing companies in the state, so it's very much a part of the economy here."
Power stressed that the four-year degree program in graphic arts management is important for the development of the job market because colleges are not producing enough students in this arena of the printing industry. "I think last year UW-Stout graduated 38 students and, on average, each of them had six job offers."
Power said that the printing industry has seen a nine percent growth rate nationally per year over the last 25 years and shows no signs of slowing down. "The job situation is very, very strong," said Powers. "The business has continued to grow and we just don't see it stopping."
For more information on the printing and publishing program, contact Dean Flowers at 262-695-7856 or program director Maxine Doyle at 262-691-5275