151: Building AI and Automation into Technical College Curriculums with Richard Barnhouse, President of Waukesha County Technical College

There’s no escaping AI and automation these days…but what’s the best way to integrate them into technical college curriculums and provide the next generation of manufacturing professionals with the education they need? Richard Barnhouse is the President of Waukesha County Technical College and is on the cutting edge of integrating automation, systems integration, and artificial intelligence into technical college programs.

Richard joins this episode of Manufacturing Happy Hour to share his insights, why he believes Wisconsin is a hub of higher ed transformation, and why he strives to provide high-quality AI and automation degrees and certificates. 

Plus, he gives advice on getting feedback from the community and tells us why we’ll soon look back on 2023 as the “good old days” of hiring humans.


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. Manufacturing leaders need to get on the floor and under machines to truly understand what their communities’ needs  
  2. 2023 is still the ‘good old days’ of hiring humans 
  3. The Wisconsin technical college system is on a mission to transform higher education across the U.S. 

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “If you’re going to lead an organization that responds to the community, get out there, throw on some boots and get under a machine to see what the real needs are.”
  • “We’re going to see higher education get better. It’s going to become more streamlined, more efficient. It will be forced to improve dramatically in order to stay in business.”
  • “If there are demands for specific programs in our industry, then I’ve got a responsibility to deliver it.”

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn. 

EPLAN provides software and service solutions in the fields of electrical engineering, automation, and mechatronics engineering. They’ve developed one of the world’s leading design software solutions for machine, plant, and panel builders, providing data-driven panel design capabilities to manufacturers. Click here to listen to our full interview with EPLAN’s International Solutions Architect Sean Mulherrin. 

What We Discuss with Richard

  • Richard’s roots in the industry 
  • Why he joined Waukesha County Technical College 
  • Why he believes industry has been organically evolving at an unbelievable pace 
  • The best ways to get feedback from the community 
  • How the Wisconsin technical college system can transform higher ed across the country 
  • Why it’s Richard’s role to keep manufacturing going in Wisconsin 
  • Why WCTC have created AI and automation programs 
  • Why 2023 is the ‘good old days’ of hiring humans 

Recommended Resources

Connect with Richard