Project GRILL Cooks up Careers

Project GRILL a sizzling success for WI high schools

Some competitors win medals, while others boast trophies. If you're a participant in
Project GRILL, you eat brats.

That's because Project GRILL (Growing Readiness in Learning and Leading) challenges high school students to design, manufacture, and assemble a custom charcoal grill. The only condition is that the grills cook a dozen brats in one hour.

Teams are not alone, though, each is paired with an area manufacturing partner. As an Engineering Sponsor, KLH Industries, Inc. provided Waterjet Cutting services for the 2008-09 Kewaskum High School Project GRILL team, who unveiled their grill this past spring.

Manufacturing sponsors introduce high school students to the same software and technologies that they use everyday. Of course, these budding relationships are no coincidence.

Project Grill program stems from the initiative of manufacturing companies in 2007-08. These Sheboygan County manufacturers - including Johnsonville Sausage and Sargento Cheese - sought to familiarize students with potential careers by making manufacturing challenging, creative, and cool.

It worked.

Only a year later, the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce seized the opportunity to bring a regional chapter to their area.

With the support of Sheboygan County, Moraine Park Technical College, and a new batch of partnering manufacturers, the Association of Commerce launched an inaugural Project GRILL competition for the 2008-09 school year.

According to their website, Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce President Joe Reitemeier believes programs like Project GRILL are vital to manufacturing sustainability in the area:

[Project] GRILL is one example of what this community needs to do to start solving the critical labor shortage of the future. Our recent survey showed that retirements and other factors are going to hit our county labor pool hard. We have to work together find creative ways to retain the talent in our schools and direct that talent to our business community.

As a further incentive for students in the Fond du Lac program, Project GRILL is also worth three credits at Moraine Park Technical College.

Project GRILL puts students into tactile, real-world situations full of both success and failure. Students not only assemble a grill, but also a toolbox of important manufacturing skills: teamwork, self-confidence, leadership, problem-solving, professionalism, and communication (to name a few).

Perhaps the most satisfying lesson, though, is that hard-work is rewarding. It seems only fitting then, that if you're a participant in Project GRILL, you eat brats.
For more information on the Fond du Lac area program, visit their Project GRILL homepage, or for Sheboygan County, visit

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