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Focus on the Student Experience: Oshkosh

Spring 2012

Nutcrackers on the Town

Students in Auto Collision Repair Club go above and beyond for Oshkosh community project.

 
Dave Debruin and
FVTC's nutcracker 
Last holiday season, students from Fox Valley Technical College’s Auto Collision Repair Club took on a special project to help out the Oshkosh community: the design and construction of an eight-foot nutcracker statue.

In response to the city’s request for area artists to turn giant metal nutcracker statues into individual pieces of art for the 2011 holiday season, club members agreed to donate their time and skills. “We took three broken nutcrackers and turned them into one on a rotating platform,” says 62-year-old student and club vice-president Dave DeBruin.

“Ours has two faces with a different style character on each side.”

In all, 20 students were involved in the two-month project with five individuals dedicating more than 100 hours each. “There was a lot of work to be done,” notes DeBruin. “We built a gear-driven box to make it spin. The body required a great deal of work with different polymers, fiberglass, and Bondo before we started painting.”

The nutcracker is just one of the club’s community support projects. Previously, they rebuilt and donated a van to the area’s Veterans Affairs hospital. They’re currently working on a specially equipped car for a handicapped student. All these projects exemplify ideal hands-on opportunities for the students to demonstrate their skills.

“I originally joined the club because it’s fun to be part of a group of pure gear heads,” laughs DeBruin. “However, as a veteran, I think it’s also important to give back to our community.”

“I’m very proud of our club because it really did go beyond the call,” says Joe Kircher, instructor in FVTC’s Auto Collision Repair and Refinishing Technician program. “We have repair shops constantly calling us looking for professionals in the collision field. Even in this economy, we don’t have enough students ready to fill the need!”

According to the 2011 FVTC Graduate Employment Report, graduates of both the Auto Collision Repair and Refinishing Technician and Vehicle Refinishing and Repair programs saw 100% job placement just six months after graduating.

Good-Cause Marketing

A win-win holiday promotion for Toys for Tots and Fox Xpress.

For their final marketing project, Fox Valley Technical College Marketing students Devan Kuether, Aaron Blabaum, Arron Hoch, and Taylor Knowles wanted to do something extraordinary while addressing a community need.

“Our original assignment was to promote Fox Xpress (FVTC’s mobile kiosk-style restaurant at its Riverside campus in Oshkosh) more in the community,” Kuether recalls. “It was during the Christmas season, and when the idea of tying the promotion with the Toys For Tots campaign came up, we knew it was the right direction.”

 

 
Marketing students from Oshkosh (left to right):
Taylor Knowles, Aaron Blabaum, Arron Hoch
and Devan Kuether 

The promotion featured a prize raffle, plus coupons for discounted soda and coffee at Fox Xpress. “If you dropped off a toy or any monetary donation, you could enter to win a prize,” explains Kuether. “We had some fantastic prize sponsors, including Bergstrom Automotive and Best Buy.”

Graphic Point, an area design firm, worked with the group to develop large vinyl posters, door signs, and coupons. “Everyone was extremely helpful,” notes Kuether. “Our instructors, Sandy Plank and Teri Stark, do a phenomenal job of using projects rather than tests to learn. You learn skills and real solutions rather than just knowing the answers on a multiple choice test.”

The initiative proved to be successful, with the group collecting more than 100 toys for Toys for Tots while increasing business at Fox Xpress by more than 25%. The students’ innovative approach to the project impressed FVTC faculty as well. “Their goal was something big and bold and they exceeded all expectations,” states marketing instructor Sandy Plank. “Devan’s group was so successful that we would like to continue this idea on a yearly basis.”

Marketing students at Fox Valley Tech not only do hands-on projects, but are also often involved in handling full-scale marketing research. “We get quite a few calls from well-known businesses in our area,” Plank explains. “They want us to work on everything from developing questionnaires to writing reports and handling major presentations. We’ve worked with leading area companies such as the Heidel House Resort, the YMCA, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Fond du Lac.”

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