I had good fortune this week to attend The Future Wisconsin Economic Summit gathering of over 300 people in Milwaukee; a collection of about 1/3 private business or chamber of commerces, 1/3 academic representation and 1/3 government agency support folks. The day provided a great flow of speakers challenging audience thinking as we march forward towards what Wisconsin will look like in 20 years.
Dan Ariens, Chair/CEO of Ariens Company of Brillion, welcomed the group and shared his first-hand experience in advancing the collaborative effort his company has established in recent years with Brillion High School. Under advice from the teaching professionals, the role of problem solving has been established as the common denominator that has helped grow participation in the related curriculum at Ariens Engineering & Tech Center at the high school; moving participation from 1/3 of students to more than 75%. "What's important is to develop a clear understanding of the challenge" advised Ariens. Students can find manufacturing to be an interesting career choice and this becomes more apparent when kids see ways that their very own ideas can become part of a product in the workplace. The collaborative efforts that bridge back and forth between the company business and the education partners are key to success but are only possible when consensus can be built through open and thorough communications. "The goal was never to write a white paper," noted Ariens. Being actionable and having shared goals is the only way this can work.
The Ariens / Brillion High School experience that involves