News release from the Wisconsin Technical College System
The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and Western Technical College honored Ashley Furniture Industries on Tuesday evening. Ashley, a long-time partner of the college, has provided leading support for equipment and facilities modernization in support of the college’s manufacturing programs. The WTCS Futuremaker Partner award recognizes the unique, dynamic partnerships between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and their employer partners.
“We are delighted to honor Ashley Furniture because of its strong relationship with Western Technical College and efforts to help prepare students for the future of manufacturing in Wisconsin,” said WTCS Board President S. Mark Tyler, who is the founder and President of Woodville-based OEM Fabricators. “Ashley is innovating at all levels of education and investing in building a talent pipeline for advanced manufacturing, inspiring a new generation to compete in a world of automation.”
Ashley’s support of Western enhances the skills of both students and instructors. With the company’s donation of six robots and three simulators, the college’s Ashley Robotics Lab will open on the main campus in La Crosse in fall 2018. This will allow Western to provide expanded instruction to students and incumbent workers in the operation and programming of robots in a manufacturing setting. Ashley also covered the cost for two instructors to become certified to teach the Yaskawa Dx200 Basic Programming Course.
In addition to the robotics lab, Ashley provided a portable training robot located at Western’s Independence campus, which allows Western instructors to demonstrate the equipment at numerous high school events throughout this rural region. This arrangement allows the partners to more widely showcase the technology used in advanced manufacturing.
Ashley’s partnership with Western continued to grow when Ashley recently announced the donation of three maintenance robots to the college, paired with funding to certify an additional two instructors in the Dx200 Maintenance Course. The maintenance robots can be disassembled by students, allowing for hands-on instruction in robotic maintenance and repair.
To fully showcase for Western faculty and staff the latest trends in automation, Ashley funded delegation visits to Germany and other countries where guests attended trade shows and visited technical colleges with leading-edge automation programs. Company staff serve on a number of Western’s program advisory committees, and it regularly hires Western graduates.
As a reliable partner in the development and promotion of hands-on career awareness and exploration, Ashley Furniture is also helping to strengthen Western’s relationship with K-12 and higher education partners throughout the region and the state.
“We are honored for Ashley to be presented the Futuremaker Partner award,” said Ashley Furniture Industries founder and Chairman of the Board Ron Wanek. “In a global economy that continues to evolve, we believe in the importance of developing long-lasting partnerships with our technical colleges to prepare the current and future workforce for success in areas of advanced manufacturing.”
“Our partnership with Ashley Furniture is extraordinary,” said Western Technical College President Roger Stanford. “Partnerships like this allow our students to work with cutting-edge technology and acquire the skills to help Wisconsin companies compete globally,” Stanford said.