Sevastopol Celebrates Opening of Machining Program

[Door County Pulse] Sevastopol Celebrates Opening of Machining Program

Inside the DCMP lab. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

Students can earn college credit while gaining hands-on experience

A new program at Sevastopol School will help area students to learn new skills and earn college credit in the process.

On Oct. 27, the school celebrated the grand opening of itsDoor County Machining Program (DCMP) lab, the first of its kind in the area. Through DCMP, students from all Door County schools can earn college credits before graduating from high school by taking a machining class. They can also get hands-on machining experience in the lab, learning how to safely operate machinery that’s used in many manufacturing positions, such as computer numerical control (CNC) mini mills, manual knee mills, manual lathes and drill presses. The first of these machining classes, taught by Garrett Sowl of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), began this fall.

The goal of the DCMP is to save students money and allow them to get a head start on their college career, while also giving them experience in a lucrative field, according to Kathryn Rogalski, NWTC’s vice president of student learning.

“We can’t graduate students fast enough to fill the jobs that we have, so partnering with Sevastopol has allowed us to reach more students early,” she said.

The class is also helpful for students who are still deciding on their career path, according to Lucas Apsey, a senior at Sevastopol High School and a student in the new machining class. Apsey isn’t sure what he’s going to do after high school, but he said he appreciates the class because it’s allowing him to try out the fieldwhile earning college credits. 

Inside the DCMP lab. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

The program will help local manufacturers, too, said Steven Hurley, chief executive officer of Pro Products, a Sturgeon Bay–based precision machine shop. It’s no secret that there’s an employee shortage in the manufacturing sector, but programs such as DCMP that get students interested in machining could help to close the employee gap.

“There’s a lot of companies – there’s several here tonight – that need people like these kids going through this program,” Hurley said.

It makes for a prepared workforce as well.

“It is very intimidating to walk into a machine shop in a production environment that has high expectations for productivity,” Hurley said. “If we can start off with an educational type of setting, I think that’s really setting these youngsters up for success.”

The Sevastopol School District partnered with NWTC to create the lab and its accompanying program. NWTC already offers dual-credit courses for local high school students, but this new machining class is unusual in the level of experience – and the amount of college credit – that students can gain, Rogalski said.

“This CNC machining program is on a pathway that’ll offer these students the first semester of the CNC machining degree,” she said. “They will then be able to go on and have already one semester of college done before they even finish high school.”

Several local manufacturers such as Cadence, Northeast Wisconsin Industries, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Itasca Automation Systems and Pro Products, as well as the Door County Economic Development Corporation, contributed to the project, which also received a $2 million contribution from Therma-Tron-X and a grant from the Raibrook Foundation.

Kyle Luedtke. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

Work on the program started during the 2017-18 school year, when a group of 35 citizens started meeting biweekly to discuss their vision for a machining program at the school, according to Kyle Luedtke, superintendent of Sevastopol School.

“A vision became a reality because of the commitment of the people in this room and people outside of this room,” Luedtke said at the grand opening.