Fort Atkinson campus sparks excitement with ‘Metal Mania’ event
Sparks flew as Metal Mania took over Fort Atkinson this past weekend.
Over 400 community members stopped by the Madison College Fort Atkinson campus’ newly renovated welding and metal fabrication space, all eager to tour the facility, learn about program offerings, and watch teams compete in an all-day welding competition. Did we mention the smoked brisket and free t-shirts?
Shawna Marquardt, dean of regional campuses, says the event was intentionally designed to showcase the new facility space while bringing in fun, interactive elements. “We wanted the community to see the welding teams competing, and we also had College faculty and staff giving tours and sharing program highlights.”
The Fort Atkinson campus offers a rich selection of continuing education courses as well as summer youth camps focused on welding and metal fabrication, Marquardt added. “Beyond traditional coursework, there are many opportunities for community members and youth to engage with us.”
Seeing the space, particularly the welding and metal fabrication area, opened eyes and solicited many inquiries from the community, says Fort Atkinson campus manager Matt Young. “We had so many questions about what programs and classes we offer here. I think seeing the space helped people understand what we offer. They were curious about both credit and community engagement opportunities.”
The crowd varied from very young children to retired adults who were looking to attempt welding for the first time. Young says it was the lab’s computer numerical control (CNC) machine’s laser cuts and automated precision that was a huge hit with the kids. “They stood there watching it go to work and cut out ornate butterflies from pieces of metal. They were mesmerized.”
Young says adding the welding competition brought to life the facility’s robust capabilities and added an ‘ooh ahh’ element of fun for everyone. The theme for the competition was ‘Wisconsin Wildlife.’
“We had six teams participating in the competition, all creating metal sculptures from scrap metal donated by Alter Metal Recycling,” says Fort Atkinson campus manager Matt Young. “The teams were made up of a variety of individuals. We had an architecture firm, two different area high schools, one Madison College team, one local industry team from Integrated Process Engineers & Constructors, Inc. (IPEC), and one totally independent team made up of father, son, and others.”
While IPEC snagged the top prize with an intricate sculpture complete with a rotating base, Young says it was the two high school teams that were a special highlight and brought great energy to the day. One of them, Lakeside Lutheran, took home second place.
“Overall, the competition was fantastic, and it was an amazing group of artists,” says Young. "We will absolutely be making this an annual event, and we already have a list of teams who want to participate next year.”
Learn more about Fort Atkinson’s class and community offerings and mark your calendars for next year's Metal Mania event, set for May 18th, 2024.