News Release

Published on Friday, September 08, 2006

Western Technical College will be hosting free workshops on non-traditional occupations (NTOs) for women, thanks to funding from the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. The college will use the $8,816 grant to promote programs that lead to traditionally male-dominated careers.

Occupations are considered non-traditional when 25 percent or fewer of the workers are female. These careers include mechanical designers, engineers, tool and die makers, machinists, electricians, construction workers, firefighters, dentists, airplane pilots, and mechanics.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in NTOs typically earn 20-30 percent more than women in traditional jobs.

“We want women to realize what is available for them,” said Pat Brice, a female instructor for Western’s Machine Tool program. “These occupations shouldn’t be considered intimidating, and the workshops are a great way to answer questions and ease concerns.”

The grant money will be used to provide six one-hour introductory workshops, three in the fall and three in the spring. Each workshop will provide women with information on NTO careers and specific information on machine tool and mechanical design trades. Participants will be given the opportunity to participate in Online, career-based self-assessment, review local job market statistics, and learn about resources to help them weigh the pros and cons of a non-traditional occupation.

The fall introductory workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 9:10-10:05 a.m.; Thursday, Oct. 19, from 4:45-5:40 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 13, from 12:25-1:20 p.m. at Western’s La Crosse campus.

Participants in the informational sessions will then be invited to attend an eight-hour, hands-on activity session to be held in the spring. The activity session will be divided into two parts:

The Machine Tool portion will feature a discussion of what machine tool careers are like for women, a rundown of safety precautions, and a tour of Western’s machine tool shop. There will be an opportunity for participants to set up and operate machine tools, use computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software, and handle precision measuring tools and inspection equipment.

The Mechanical Design portion will also include a discussion on possible careers and safety precautions, and a tour of Western’s Mechanical Design facilities. Participants will use 3-D modeling, rapid prototyping, and computer aided design (CAD) software. The session will end with a panel discussion with women currently working in the mechanical design field.

While designed for women, the free workshops and activity sessions are open to anyone interested in these occupations. To register, contact Pat Brice at or 608.783.0841, or Myra Withey at or 608.789.4789.

To learn more about other training and education opportunities at Western, please call 608.785.9200 or visit the Web site at