09:44 AM

Gene Haas Foundation donation to benefit Waukesha County Technical College manufacturing students


PEWAUKEE, Wis. (Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021) The Gene Haas Foundation recently awarded substantial grants totaling $540,000 to Waukesha County Technical College to support and enhance manufacturing training at the College. Of the donation, $500,000 will be used to create a sophisticated training space – the Gene Haas CNC Training Center -- including updating labs and classrooms to educate students in a modern, world-class facility. The remaining $40,000 will be used for scholarships to benefit prospective manufacturing students and those currently enrolled in WCTC’s Machine Tool Operation, Tool and Die and CNC Setup Technician programs.

Ellen Phillips, WCTC Foundation president, said the generosity of the Gene Haas Foundation will benefit students through scholarships and further develop their experiential learning opportunities. “Their giving demonstrates the impact of philanthropy on our students in ‘accessing, continuing and completing’ their educational journey at WCTC,” she said.

This significant gift will continue to strengthen WCTC’s solid manufacturing programs and aid in the College’s commitment to training a skilled workforce, said Mike Shiels, dean of the School of Applied Technologies.

“These donations will greatly enhance the students’ experience in the College’s manufacturing programs, helping them as they pursue their degrees in these high-tech, hands-on fields,” he said.

Established in 1999, the Gene Haas Foundation is eponymously named after Haas Automation Inc. founder and CEO. It supports the needs of the local community through grants to various charities and organizations. Seeing a growing need for skilled manufacturing employees industry wide, the Foundation expanded its mission to include support for training programs. By providing scholarship grants, sponsoring team/individual CNC competitions, and partnering with top CNC training programs, the Foundation helps expand the availability of high-quality manufacturing technology training worldwide.

Kathy Looman, director of education for the Gene Haas Foundation, said the gift to WCTC is an endorsement of its manufacturing programs.

“At an opening of a Gene Haas Center a couple years ago, Gene Haas thanked teachers and proceeded to say: ‘The investments of money don't compare to the teachers and people who invest their time with students,’” Looman said. “Recently, as I sat at a large table with the management, foundation and instruction team from Waukesha County Technical College, I was impressed by how much manufacturing industry experience and passion was revealed in everyone’s introductions. Combined with the state-of-the-art equipment, Waukesha is a model of success.”

>> Photo caption: Pictured, front row, from left, are Chad Sesing, sales engineer at Haas Factory Outlet; Ellen Phillips, WCTC Foundation president; Rich Barnhouse, Ph.D., WCTC president; Kathy Looman, director of education for the Gene Haas Foundation; Sandy McGee, WCTC Foundation chairperson; Brad Piazza, Ph.D., vice president of Learning; and Mike Shiels, dean of WCTC’s School of Applied Technologies. Back row, from left, are Kurt Bence, Bradley Sakac, Michael Czerniak, Dennis Pollari and Bill Hayes, Tool and Die instructors; and Steve Walter, Manufacturing Technologies associate dean.


About Waukesha County Technical College

Waukesha County Technical College, the leader in workforce development, prepares learners for success within the region and global economy. The College offers more than 150 areas of study including associate degree, technical diploma, apprenticeship and short-term certificate programs. Customized training for employers is also available. To learn more, visit