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.”

Looking Back at 2017

2017 was the year of amazing announcements for Realityworks. The team launched more than 40 new products bringing solutions to a wide variety of educators around the world. The Company now has training solutions for educators in health sciences, agriculture, welding, manufacturing, family and consumer sciences, and more. It is interesting to look at the growth in our product offerings these days. The addition of simulators that get you to feel what it is like to be old and have glaucoma is a great solution that customers are raving about. The animal models are also a great hit bringing new excitement to the classroom. The new health sciences products are just getting to market and creating buzz.

We welcome all of our new customers to the Realityworks family. This success is due not only to the team at Realityworks but also our amazing customers and advisers that help us understand what direction we need to head, what products we should be offering, and what challenges we can help solve. Thank you to each and every one of you for what you do. Please let us know how we are doing and how we can help you further so we can continue to deliver valuable solutions to the classroom.

As we look towards the new year, I leave you with this:

So goes by another year of Babies

With pregnancy simulation, storage carts, and infant care cheer

We then moved onto fake welding

Followed by real sparks and other welding gear

The animals then all rushed to market with fame

Loo and behold the whole barnyard came

When they arrived at tradeshows

Agriculture teachers found more they could use

We then marched onto health sciences

With tools those instructors could use

The simulators that made you feel old

Generated great buzz galore

This brought new customers

To grow the Company even more

Merry Christmas to all and a happy new year

We look forward to continuing to serve you

And thank you for all that you do

Thank you for a great 2017 and have a happy new year!

Timm

Realityworks to Unveil New Agriculture and Health Science Training Tools at National Career & Technical Education Conference

Models and curriculum for key job skill development will be on display at one of the world’s largest gatherings of CTE professionals

Eau Claire, Wis. (November 30, 2017) – Educators and industry leaders attending the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION 2017 Conference in Nashville next week will get the first look at new learning aids for agriculture education and health science from Realityworks, Inc. A Midwest-based company that has been developing innovative educational tools for over two decades, Realityworks’ new anatomical models address job skill development in two in-demand fields: agriculture education and nursing training.

“Educators have told us that they need new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers,” said Realityworks President and CEO Timm Boettcher. “These new tools and curriculum were designed to help engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce.”

Realityworks will give attendees a sneak peak of two expanded lines. New products on display include human anatomy models that teach structures of the body, wearable simulators for training health occupations students on measuring blood pressure and developing empathy for patients with hemiplegia. Realityworks will also be unveiling additional models for teaching animal and plant systems.

All of these new anatomical models will be showcased alongside products and programs for skill development in other CTE pathways. They include:

– A virtual reality welding simulator, electrical wiring kit and other welding and trade skills resources
– Injection training arms, geriatric simulators and other health science resources
– Animal models, plant models and other agriculture education resources
– Infant simulators, human development models and other health and human services resources
– An employability skills teaching toolkit to help students develop soft skills

“We strive to help educators create interactive, hands-on learning environments where students can explore career pathways and engage in active learning opportunities,” said Boettcher. “Our newest tools are detailed and interactive, and are designed to help educators engage, impact and educate today’s students.”

ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2017 Conference will be held in Ryman Hall C of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN on December 7 and 8. Realityworks’ products and programs will be on display at Booth #401.

For more information on Realityworks’ products and programs, visit http://realityworks.com/. For a full presentation schedule and additional conference details, visit https://www.careertechvision.com/.

About Realityworks, Inc. 

Established 20 years ago to better address teen pregnancy prevention, parenting skills, child abuse and neglect through educational products, Realityworks, Inc. is dedicated to creating experiential learning tools that engage students, teach needed skills and provide career exploration opportunities. Most famous for their RealCare Baby infant simulator (formerly known as Baby Think it Over or BTIO), Realityworks now provides comprehensive learning solutions that pair curriculum with hands-on learning aids, student activities and assessment tools to create innovative learning environments. These solutions are used in middle, secondary and post-secondary schools to address a variety of Career & Technical Education pathways, including health & human services, health sciences, welding and trade skills, agriculture education, sex education, business education and more. With simulators in 62 percent of U.S. school districts and programs in more than 90 countries around the world, Realityworks has made a worldwide impact. For more information, visit www.realityworks.com, or call toll-free 800-830-1416.

Realityworks is Thankful for…

The team at Realityworks has so much to be grateful for this year. Here are the words that came to mind when asked what we are must thankful for this Thanksgiving:

A few team members shared more about what they are grateful for:

“I am thankful for friends, old and new.” – Sarah Philen, Account Manager

“I am thankful for my co-workers, some of the most supportive and hard-working people I know!” – Casey Kooiman, International Business Consultant

“I am thankful for all of the regular things…like kids, dogs and a warm house. But there are those that do not have what I have, and I am thankful for caring people who GIVE at this time of year so others can have also.” – Christine Medina, Account Services Representative

“I am most thankful for getting to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.” – Lisa Rolf, Marketing Intern

“I am thankful for all of the dedicated educators around the world that take the time to care, nurture, inspire, and prepare our youth for a successful life journey.” – Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO

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.

Welding Education in the 21st Century: Engaging Today’s Students in a Growing Career Path

In July 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics reported the need for 379,000 manufacturing positions – an increase of more than 280 percent since 2008.1 Industry leaders report that these job openings will continue to grow; according to the American Welding Society, there will be a need for over 400,000 welders by the year 2025.2 In the next decade alone, the Manufacturing Institute predicts a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs.3 As the nation’s workers and infrastructure age, demand for qualified workers in the manufacturing industry will continue to grow.

glimpseWhile manufacturing job openings grow, however, employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill them. In fact, the number of open manufacturing positions is at its highest point in 15 years, but the rate of hiring has only increased by 36 percent since 2008.⁴ The nation is facing a significant skills gap, one that the Manufacturing Institute predicts could result in nearly 2 million of the industry’s anticipated job openings going unfilled.⁵

Technology can play a powerful role in the engagement of today’s students in these vital career paths. After all, 21st Century Learning is a technology-based learning style; it is second nature for today’s process-oriented, connected and media-driven students to use technology to communicate, collaborate and create. Brick-and-mortar school buildings may have remained relatively the same over the past century, but the advancement of technology means the tools available to instructors are completely different.

How educators use technology is key in equipping students with the skills the workforce needs to remain globally competitive, from manufacturing and welding and beyond – and Career and Technical Education (CTE) professionals are stepping up. From virtual reality simulation tools to certification programs and student-run businesses, CTE instructors are taking steps to engage today’s 21st century students in these growing career paths and give them hands-on opportunities to learn valuable trades.

Illinois education organization using tools, certifications to teach students industry-specific skills

skillsgapThe Career Education Associates of North Central Illinois (CEANCI) is an Education for Employment (EFE) organization that serves 10 school districts in the Rockford, IL area. It works with educators and industry leaders to help ensure that the 28,000 students in its coverage area (which includes 15 high schools and 19 middle schools) have curriculum, equipment and materials to help them learn targeted, industry-specific skills. As the region encompasses a strong manufacturing industry, one of those skills is welding – a skill that CEANCI System Director Margie Hartfiel says is worth investing in.

“When we look at the programs we fund, we make decisions that are tied directly to labor market information,” said Hartfiel, who has been working in education for 27 years. “Welding is a high-need area, and as our labor market ages, we are finding that the business partners we work closely with are telling us repeatedly that they need these particular skills.”

Industry certifications are one way CEANCI is helping its students learn industry-specific skills. CEANCI currently offers certifications in a variety of CTE pathways, including manufacturing, early childhood, culinary arts and industrial technology – all of which the EFE works with industry representatives to ensure the relevancy of.

In 2014, CEANCI helped 630 students earn certifications; that number grew to 2,303 in 2015 and Hartfiel predicts that this year, over 4,300 students will earn certifications. Support for the initiative is regionwide; area educators and industry representatives recognize the value of a student’s ability to graduate from high school and say, “Yes, I can do this, and I have proven it.”

guideweld Technology is another tool that CEANCI is using to equip students with in-demand welding skills. In 2015, CEANCI approved funding for the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and the guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system. Implemented as a pilot program in the Winnebago and Oregon school districts, the guideWELD VR simulators are used to introduce students to welding in a virtual, spark-free environment, while the guideWELD LIVE systems are used to help students hone live welding skills. CEANCI sees two specific benefits to the implementation of such technology: the ability to save money and the ability to demonstrate learned skills.

Click here to download the full PDF version of this case study and learn how welding education will impact the 21st century classroom.

Realityworks’ age simulation suit wins caregiver award

By Janelle Krause, Realityworks PR & Events Specialist

CaregiverFriendlyAward

EAU CLAIRE, Wis., August 1, 2016 –  Realityworks’ newest RealCare product, the RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator sensitivity suit, has received the 2016 Today’s Caregiver™ Friendly Award by Today’s Caregiver magazine. The Caregiver Friendly Awards are designed to celebrate products, services, books and media created with the needs of caregivers in mind. This award recognizes Realityworks’ understanding of the importance of supporting caregivers and their creation of a product that not only helps caregivers do their job, but helps improve the quality of elderly patients’ lives.

student assisting with RCare logo cropped4x5

Realityworks created the Geriatric Simulator to help prepare health care workers for careers in the rapidly growing geriatric healthcare field. The Geriatric Simulator is a wearable sensitivity suit that helps educate on topics related to aging and care for the elderly by enabling users to experience age-related physical challenges. It includes curriculum that can be incorporated into secondary and post-secondary education, nursing and health occupations programs to help users prepare for geriatric health care careers and to gain an understanding of what patients could endure.

“The Geriatric Sensitivity suit helps users develop empathy toward the elderly, a trait that studies show is key for success in elder care careers,” said Timm Boettcher, President and CEO of Realityworks. “We are proud to be recognized for the assistance our product can give caregivers and educators.”

Realityworks’ award will be announced in the September/October 2016 issue of Today’s Caregiver and on the magazine’s website, caregiver.com.

Learn more

For more information on the RealCare Geriatric Simulator, we recommend these resources:

About Realityworks, Inc.
Established 19 years ago to better address teen pregnancy prevention, parenting skills, child abuse and neglect through educational products, Realityworks, Inc. is dedicated to creating experiential learning tools that engage students while improving the human condition. Most famous for their RealCare Baby infant simulator (formerly known as Baby Think it Over or BTIO), Realityworks has developed several other programs over the last decade that address career preparation areas like business management, finance and entrepreneurship, and welding with guideWELD, a live welding guidance system. With simulators in 62 percent of U.S. school districts and programs in more than 90 countries around the world, Realityworks has made a worldwide impact. For more information, visit www.realityworks.com, or call toll-free 800-830-1416.

About the Caregiver Friendly Awards
Caregiver Friendly® Awards are presented by Today’s Caregiver magazine to celebrate outstanding books, media, products and services designed with the best interest of the family caregiver in mind. Today’s Caregiver magazine, launched in 1995, is published by Caregiver Media Group, which also produces the Fearless Caregiver Conferences, www.caregiver.com and The Fearless Caregiver book, which teaches caregivers how to become their loved one’s fearless advocates within the healthcare system.

Perkins Act Reauthorization: A Reminder to Continue Advocating

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

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

The U.S. is on a path towards realizing how important Career and Technical Education (CTE) is in this country, and on June 28, Congress took an important step to ensure that journey continues: It announced a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

Sponsored by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is the first comprehensive reauthorization of the Perkins Act to be considered by Congress since 2006. It’s the result of efforts by educators, business leaders, legislators and organizations to ensure that schools can equip students with the academic, technical and job-related skills they need to succeed and keep our country’s workforce competitive. It is spectacular to see those efforts coming to fruition.

Such efforts are the only way to keep support for CTE moving forward. With regular, consistent advocacy, educators and business leaders can connect. They can collaborate to develop programs that will properly prepare our future workforce – programs that match curricula to industry requirements, combine core academics with employability and technical skills and prepare students to be college- and career-ready. As Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King. Jr. recently stated, “Every job that leads to a secure future requires critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.” CTE programs provide students with those skills.

That’s why the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition (IWNC), which I chair, continues to foster partnerships between education and industry while advocating for increased funding on federal, state and local levels. It’s why the IWNC collaborated with the Association for Career & Technical Education and Opportunity America to help organize a Congressional staff briefing earlier this year on CTE from an employer perspective. And it’s why more work is needed to ensure that our workforce is properly prepared for the future.

This bill seeks to reform several aspects of the Perkins Act to reflect the challenges facing students and workers today. Highlights of the bill include improved alignment between education and workforce development laws, which will drive program congruency. It also simplifies the process through which educators can access CTE funding by lessening bureaucratic requirements and expanding state control.

The educators, business leaders, legislators and organizations who have worked so hard to make this reauthorization bill a reality deserve sincere appreciation. Strengthened CTE legislation is absolutely needed in this country to ensure our workforce is prepared for the future. However, we need to stay focused on ensuring the availability of CTE programs for all students. We need to work to ensure that those programs align with industry standards and incorporate core academics along with job-related skills so that today’s students are prepared for success in the 21st Century workforce. Let’s take this opportunity to continue advocating in support of the economically critical educational opportunities that CTE programs provide.

In addition to presiding over Realityworks, Inc., Timm chairs the IWNC, a group created by American business leaders to increase the population of skilled workers in the US through better alignment between the educational system and industry. Timm was also named ACTE’s 2015 Business Leader of the Year for his sustained commitment to improving CTE and the connection needed between the workforce development, economic development, and education systems.