Michael Werner

What Got You Here Won't Get You There

Michael Werner was born, raised and traditionally educated finishing with a 4-year Machining Apprenticeship in the Swiss Airforce Technical School in Switzerland. After military service as a helicopter mechanic, he worked machining endurance race car engines and was involved in machining Audi’s first V-8 engine components. His love for flying and vintage aircraft restoration brought him to the U.S. in 1985 where he acquired an A&P Certificate, worked in the aviation industry and international project management for a Swiss Aerospace firm.

Always passionate about working hands on - he turned a woodturning hobby into a showing at the Smithsonian Fine American Craft Show in 2005, and then decided to direct his energy toward teaching Career and Technical Education Manufacturing in a high school educational setting.

In response to a request to develop a program for “women in non-traditional roles” he organized the first ever all girl team that designed, built and successfully raced a prototype diesel car in the International Shell Eco-marathon in 2009. The ShopGirls and their success with “Learning by Doing” were highlighted as a bright spot in Career & Technical Education (CTE) by the US Secretary of Education in his speech to Harvard “Pathways to Prosperity”. The ShopGirls were invited by Shell to present at the Aspen Ideas Festival; the co-ed team UrbanAutos was the first High School to take their car to the Bonneville Salt Flats for alternative fuel testing and educational outreach. Of 9 girls in his first “ShopGirls” class, two were accepted to MIT, one to Stanford and one to Cal Poly in Engineering.

Michael speaks frequently at Education, CTE and STEM conferences. He believes that successful preparation for life and learning is more than good grades and a graduation certificate. That students who have an opportunity to engage the content learned in the academic classroom learn to fully develop ideas, to persist at overcoming failures towards success, to interact on teams with different thinkers, and then be accountable for their part in a process. They emerge able to tackle very hard things in a fast-paced future at the “Speed of the World.”

Michael teaches Big Picture Learning at Quincy Innovation Academy. He, his wife Debbie, and their Labrador Retriever Heidi live in Quincy, WA.

Sarah Rudback

Well & Good Design