Since the Ariens Foundation was founded in 1967 by Francis Ariens, youngest son of Henry Ariens, it has continued to focus on community and education. In 2019 the foundation awarded 21 scholarships that totaled $23,000 and it invested over $3 million in local education, including $1.2 million in developing STEM education in Brillion, Wisconsin.
Never has the Ariens Foundation purpose been better illustrated than in the case of one AriensCo family, headed by Brian Witt, who is director of Centers of Excellence in ArienCo’s engineering department. Not only has he worked at the company for 14 years, both his sons have held apprenticeships and internships at the company. Most recently, his oldest son George received a $1,000 scholarship from Ariens Foundation to attend Michigan Technological University, his father’s alma mater. George is in the second semester of his freshman year there.
In thinking back on both his sons’ early lives, Brian recalls they both had interest in STEM. George, in particular, seemed to identify his interest in electrical engineering very early on when he was playing with a Snap Circuits kit at just four years old. There was even a time when he was in the fourth grade that he pointed out an error in an electrical circuit diagram his teacher was showing his class. Many of the other students made fun of George for questioning the teacher, but the next day the teacher came to school and told George he was right. He was vindicated.
At Michigan Tech, George will be working on dual degrees, one in computer engineering and one in electrical engineering. Last summer he worked as an intern in the manufacturing engineering group at AriensCo and this summer will move over to the electrical engineering group, which fits nicely with the focus of his education at Michigan Tech.
“I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities that the AriensCo apprenticeship and internship programs have given me,” George said. “This scholarship speaks volumes to the company’s commitment to its employees and their families, not to mention to me.”
According to AriensCo Chairman and CEO Dan Ariens, the focus on the community and the skillset of the workforce is important to the company, as it relies on local talent for its workforce. That’s why the foundation’s emphasis on STEM curriculum is so important. In fact, those receiving scholarships are eligible to work summers or during the school year as interns at AriensCo in tandem with their education, just as George Witt is doing. It’s the perfect combination of education and hands-on training.
“Brian and his family are a perfect example of what Francis Ariens saw in the foundation and how it continues to focus on its core principles of family, community and education,” Ariens said. “More than ever, AriensCo continues to support these key principles because we know by doing so, all of us will be better off and ready to take on the future.”