Project GRILL Unveiling

The smell of summer was in the air at the 8th Annual Project G.R.I.L.L. Unveiling, which took place in the Festival Foods parking lot on Friday, May 13.  Over 70 students from eight area high schools were grilling up brats and giving the community a taste of their creativity and manufacturing know-how. 

Project G.R.I.L.L. is a program of Fond du Lac Works, a division of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce – designed to introduce high school students to career opportunities available in manufacturing. Growing Readiness in Learning and Leading, Project G.R.I.L.L. matches high school technical education departments with area manufacturers in a challenge to work together to design, fabricate and build a charcoal grill from scratch. This year, eight high school technical education departments and nine area manufacturers have been busy taking grilling to the next level!

With the “Light your grills!” command, students started-up their charcoal grill creations, which showcased their manufacturing skills and imagination.  The unveiling ceremony gave every team the opportunity to showcase their innovative creation and the chance to win various awards. As part of the competition each grill was judged on a range features including; portability, charcoal powered, ability to grill 12 brats in under an hour and overall creativity. In partnership with Festival Foods the unveiling ceremony featured a brat fry of which all of the proceeds went directly in to the scholarship fund for next year’s Project G.R.I.L.L. participants.

This year the Laconia High School team (pictured above) together with their manufacturing partner Sadoff Iron and Metal swept the competition with their unique engineering creation.  Not only did their grill win the overall competition, but they were also presented Festival Food’s and KFIZ’s “People’s Choice” award. On display were designs ranging from a cheese wedge grill perfect for a Green Bay Packer’s tailgate to a mobile pedal driven grill, inspired after the popular pedal pub concept. Jamie Cleland, Project G.R.I.L.L. committee chair and Project Manager at Manowske Welding, presented the four scholarships awards, which are given to different standout students each year.

In addition to hands-on experience, the program allows students to tour area manufacturers and see first-hand how businesses function. The manufacturing partners were able to show students the multitude of great careers available to them after high school or postsecondary school. Through Project G.R.I.L.L. students make valuable connections and gain hands-on experience even before a career or post-secondary program is started. This is an unbelievable program that adds value to student’s academic experience and encourages the growth of our local manufacturing industry – a win for everyone involved!

The school-manufacturer partnerships for 2015-2016 were: 

  • Campbellsport High School and Kondex Corporation
  • Fond du Lac High School and Agromatic Inc.
  • Horace Mann High School and Mid-States Aluminum Corp.
  • Laconia High School and Sadoff Iron & Metal
  • Lomira High School and Manowske Welding
  • Lomira High School and Fives Giddings & Lewis
  • Oakfield High School and Mercury Marine
  • Waupun High School and J.F. Ahern Company
  • Winnebago Lutheran Academy and Nemesis Metals

More information about Project G.R.I.L.L. is available online at or by calling the Association of Commerce at (920) 921-9500.

WLA entry.