VIDEO: Washburn & Washburn Tech. host Family Day

Students at work WIT students Dan Trimble, Jordan Busey and Joe Blaske construct a cabinet as part of their Cabinet/Millwork Tech class.

Washburn Institute of Technology held its Family, Food and Fun Open House Saturday, Oct. 15, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Washburn Tech is a two-year institution where students can obtain relevant technical skills, taught by highly skill, knowledgeable instructors, that can prepare them for the job market.

Not only did it open its doors so the public could see the facilities and meet the instructors, it also had activities set up around their campus, and a cookout for families to enjoy after checking out the facilities.

“We wanted to open up our facilities to the public,” said Jonathan Wimer, coordinator of continuing education and marketing. “We have these [open houses] once or twice a year … we wanted to open the entire institution to the whole community, and just have people come out to see what we have to offer [because] we aren’t as well known in the area as other programs [in the area].”

To start off, each person was given a “passport,” which was designed by Pam Manning, the graphic and photo instructor at WIT. The passport was designed for each visitor to get stamped at every program they visited. After visiting five or more instructors, the passport could then be entered into a drawing to win gift cards for local businesses.

Youths and adults were invited to operate a track hoe and a mini-excavator at the “Heavy Equipment Rodeo.” The challenge was using the equipment to pick up objects, such as using the track hoe to pick a basketball up off of a traffic cone, rotate it around to place it in a 55-gallon barrel. The mini-excavator had a teaspoon attached to it and the challenge was picking up a golf ball and rotating it around to place the golf ball into a small bowl.

In addition to being able to meet the instructors and check out the facilities, Washburn Tech, a member of the National Auto Body Council, was also participating in the Recycled Rides program and visitors were encouraged to stop by and observe students at work. Washburn Tech is the first educational institution in the nation to be a training facility for Recycled Rides, a community awareness project, whereby members of the NABC repair and donate recycled vehicles to families in need. The vehicle, a 2006 Hyundai Sonata, will be donated November 22 of this year.

“Our goal is to help people in our local community,” said Wimer. “Students from out transportation division will be working with local repair specialists to complete repairs to Recycled Rides training facility. Together we can have a positive effect right her in our community and across the country.”

The marathon weekend started the night before on Friday October 14 at 5 p.m. and continued through until approximately 10 p.m. Saturday Oct. 15. Washburn students, under the supervision of instructors and technicians from area collision repair shops, made repairs to the first vehicle, including sanding, painting, replacing various parts such as windshields and assembling the car.

“Next weekend when we are done with [the car], it will go over to Auto-Tech,” said Eric Showalter, collision repair instructor. “So far it has been going really good, students were here until 11:30 last night and we had students coming back at 6:00 this morning.”

The Washburn Tech Auto Collision program offers a hands-on, 50-credit technical certificate that prepares individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills to repair and refinish all types of vehicles.

“We have had wonderful support from our advisory council, and the industry, as well as students,” said Showalter.

Approximately 90 percent of Washburn Tech graduates either go into jobs related to their training, or go on to further their education. They offer 24 technical programs, most of which are about 48 credits in length, in one of five divisions – construction, health care, transportation, human services and technology.