ESU 5 Newsletter



While working with some ESU 5 schools through the ReVision Grant process it was found that of the occupations with the highest number of annual openings in Southeast Nebraska (based on the website) six of the top ten listed are connected with manufacturing. When trying to fill those vacancies, there is a shortage of a workforce with the necessary skills needed for even entry level positions. The fact is: there is an abundance of high wage jobs available, but a lack of workforce to fill them. We have many students graduating with degrees from universities, but only a handful of jobs available to them. In contrast, there are a handful of students graduating from trade schools with many jobs available to them. We need to create students who are truly “college and career ready” and that includes preparation for two year programs, certifications, apprenticeships, “on the job training” or movement directly into the workplace, in addition to preparing students for four year colleges and universities.

In consideration of this, ESU 5 has created the EKCO project. EKCO stands for Exposing Kids to Career Opportunities. We are excited to begin this work K-12 this school year! This project will consist of 3 layers:

  1. EKCO Enterprises: We have 3 different kinds of commercial grade equipment (Laser Cutters, Vinyl Cutters with a Heat Press and Poster/Banner Printers). These will reside in districts for a quarter of the school year. While in the district it can be used in anyway the district would like, but we can help you to set up an entrepreneurial, business opportunity for students to give them real world experiences with the equipment as well. Each quarter the machines will rotate until districts have had an opportunity to experience all 3 machines.
  2. EKCO Location: We are purchasing a large amount of high tech and low tech equipment, all associated with career opportunities, to utilize within your current curriculum. Are students creating models of Greek architecture in your Social Studies class? Let us bring out multiple 3D printers so that they can create the project through 3D printing. Don’t know how to incorporate it into your curriculum? Call us - we will be glad to help you do that!. Don’t have room? You can bring students to the ESU for a project day.
  3. Special Events at schools - Many of our districts spend a day or two at some point in the year in Makerspace Days or Career Exploration Activities with all students, outside of a typical schedule. This program allows for students to experience a lot of different equipment on the same day! Schedule a time for us to bring the entire trailer out to your district for students on these days!

The best part of this program - WE HAVE STAFF TO COME OUT WITH THE EQUIPMENT TO HELP YOU!!! Matt Dworak is working with the EKCO Project. If you want to experience it, but don’t know how to use the equipment, no problem, Matt does and he will come with the equipment to help you! You don’t have to be an expert or even know how the equipment works!

A listing of equipment in this project will be available soon!

Interested? Contact Matt Dworak ( ) or Annette Weise ( at the ESU.