Penny Wars Benefits Local Charity

Realityworks is an employee-owned company and celebrates Employee Ownership Month (ESOP) every October with various activities. On October 1, the Charitable Giving Committee announced a new company challenge: A Penny War-funded charitable giving drive to support iHeartMedia’s Christmas is for Children program. The twist: First prize would be an executive-served pizza party; second prize would be an executive-served donut party and third prize would be two pies in the face of a third company executive.

Realityworks has supported the Christmas is for Children campaign every holiday season for the past four years; in 2017, enough funds were raised through a non-competitive giving drive to support the purchase of holiday gifts for 16 children. This year, the group hoped to raise a few hundred dollars by giving this annual drive a competitive spin; instead, it was announced on Halloween that the employees had raised $2,615.98.

“What we did made a lot of cents,” said JJ Smieja. “It was really impressive to see each team get so involved,” added Tiffany Olek.

The Penny Wars competition drove so much more giving this year, that the 70-person Realityworks team will be able to support 74 local children.

“Finding out how many kids we could sponsor was my favorite part of this event,” added Terri Lokken. “A close second was seeing Timm and Scott get a pie in the face.”

Timm Boettcher, President & CEO,  and Scott Jameson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, tied for third place, meaning they both received a pie in the face from Mary Boettcher, CFO & Vice President of Finance.

“The ESOP ownership model fits our all-for-one, one-for-all culture perfectly, as Realityworks employees have always been encouraged to adopt an ownership mentality,” said Boettcher. “This competition is a great example of the success that can come from collaboration – and a little competition!”

On Teachers’ Day, We Celebrate Those Making Our Futures Successful

By Timm Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc.

Teachers are the fabric that prepares all of us to be successful in the future.

I have the special opportunity each year to visit many schools around the country and talk to many awesome teachers. Each year I am so very impressed with all the excitement, creativity and engagement that I see in the classrooms I visit. This energy and excitement – and most importantly, student engagement – is all driven by that special teacher who is making great things happen. It humbles me to think about the profound impact our teachers are having on our students every single day.

That phenomenal impact is vital to our society in order for us, collectively, to be highly successful and have a strong future. As I look around our schools, I see Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs becoming a huge part of the education that is provided. CTE programs are bringing integrated curriculum and hands-on learning to our future engineers, health care professionals, computer programmers and IT professionals, business leaders, automotive technicians, famers… the list goes on and on. CTE is critically important to our society.

Quite simply, there is not a day that goes by that you could live without CTE. It is wonderful to see CTE become an integral part of our schools, with teachers leading the charge and setting the stage for further growth and expansion, and politicians knocking down barriers and helping provide support to further educators’ efforts. That is why we at Realityworks stand by to support our CTE teachers in every endeavor they take on. We CARE about education, we CARE about teachers, we CARE about students and we hope that it shows! My hat is off to all of the teachers all over the world, and additional kudos to our CTE teachers, all of whom are are changing the world one student at a time!

I will leave you with a short poem that I think sums it all up:
As teachers go, they are the best. They shine above all the rest.
They bring real-world skills to all they meet. They help their students apply knowledge that allow them to effectively compete.
Your students are highly skilled in what they do. They learned through simulation and hands-on learning that you brought to the school.
You prepare your students to be successful in not only college but most importantly a career. CTE today is not what it was yesteryear.
CTE students experience career choices and gain strong workplace skills. This is exactly what employers and society want as it fits the bill.
On National Teacher Appreciation Day, we see all that you do. We also see the massive impact you have on not only your students, but also society, too.
You cannot live a day without experiencing the value provided by CTE. CTE has presence in everything you see.
From the cars that you drive to the homes where you live. A society with strong CTE skills is a great place to live.
Stay strong on your mission to change the world one student at a time. We will stand strong to support you all of the time.

As a thank you for the work you are doing to prepare today’s youth for successful futures, we have made a downloadable CTE infographic available for you to enjoy.

You can access your infographic here (and see other posters available for download).

Ready for the Workforce: Realityworks’ Youth Apprentices Share Projects with State Governor

“See those wires there? We’re trying to get rid of them. We want to make the whole thing smaller, so you can hold it in your hand instead of display it on the tabletop.”

If this statement was overheard outside the office of a mechanical engineer, you wouldn’t think twice. After all, it’s their job to develop, build and test the mechanics of tools, engines and machines, adapting and modifying as needed. In fact, this statement was made by 18-year-old Seth Kooiker, a senior at North High School in Eau Claire, WI and one of two youth apprentices at Realityworks, Inc.

Run by the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program is part of a statewide School-to-Work initiative. It gives high school students the opportunity to spend 1-2 years getting hands-on learning experience in an occupational area. Seth and Gabe LeGore, also a North High School senior, have been working at Realityworks since June 2016.

On Friday, January 5, Seth and Gabe had the opportunity to present some of their recent projects to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who made a brief stop at the high school to see examples of premier youth apprentice programs in the area. As they explained to Governor Walker, the two had been tasked with modifying Realityworks’ Electrical Wiring Kit, a portable, battery-operated kit that allows students to practice basic electrical wiring skills. Seth and Gabe’s efforts thus far have included rewiring, prototyping and simple machine operation.

“We’ve had dozens of students come to Realityworks through Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program, and we’ve always gotten a lot of value from it,” said Realityworks Engineering Manager Jeremiah Bauer, who mentors the company’s apprentices. “These students spend the first few months getting up to speed, and by their second year, you can send them a project and they can take it and run. Seth and Gabe are a great example of that. You can trust them to contribute, and they’re getting a jumpstart on the working world.”

The Electrical Wiring Kit is one of many projects that Seth and Gabe have been tasked with modifying, improving or creating since their 2-year apprenticeships began in June 2016. Other projects include developing an aquaponics kit, a blood pressure simulator and several other electronic and software prototypes. They’ve used imaging programs, learned machining programs and mathematical statistic programs.

“The level of knowledge gained by our youth apprentices is easy to see and forthcoming. The level of benefit to the company is unforeseen,” said Realityworks Mechanical Engineer Mike Zaborowski, who works closely with Gabe and Seth. “When you realize that you have helped guide a young mind to a future role, its only then you can clearly see the future of industry and business. The youth apprentice program makes the future very bright.”

Reflections on VISION 2016: Why I’m Proud of the Realityworks Team

By Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc.

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

Last week, the Realityworks team had the pleasure of exhibiting our experiential learning tools at the largest gathering for Career and Technical Education professionals across the country: the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference. As President and CEO of Realityworks, Inc., and a member of ACTE’s Board of Directors, I was extremely proud to be exhibiting and presenting at such a gathering for several reasons

We debuted over a dozen new products for technical education. Educators have long been telling us of their need for innovative new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers. As Chair of the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition and the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, I have seen first-hand the importance of ensuring that today’s students have the chance to learn relevant job skills. The Realityworks team worked hard over the last year to research and design several new products that help educators engage students and prepare them for success in the workforce, and the ability to get live, in-person feedback from the very professionals we designed them for is truly exciting.

Timmothy Boettcher of Realityworks at ACTE's CareerTech VISION 2016

Watch Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc., review Realityworks’ new products at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference, which took place in Las Vegas December 1 & 2.

 

We connected with our customers. We wouldn’t be the company we are today if it weren’t for the dedicated, passionate educators who support us. From the teachers who first used RealCare Baby® (our flagship product) over two decades ago to those who now implement our new Geriatric Simulator in their health occupations programs and our virtual reality welding simulator in their welding programs, we are thankful for each and every one of them – and we jump at the chance to thank them in person.

We created and fostered partnerships with educators. We are dedicated to meeting the needs of 21st Century educators, and are excited to announce several new solutions to help them engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce. Attending events like ACTE allows us to learn what educators are struggling with in the classroom and what they are interested in exploring in the upcoming year. That knowledge gives us insight into what is on the horizon for Career and Technical Education, which, in turn, helps ensure we can create products and programs that are truly useful to today’s educators.

Our success as a company depends on remaining profitable, yet profitability alone does not define our success. We measure our impact by how many lives are changed in positive ways, and how profoundly they are changed, as a result of our efforts. The recent Career and Technical Education conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our employees and our customers, and I am already looking forward to next year.