New engineering programs at three UW campuses

By University Communications
October 17, 2015
From left, UW System President Ray Cross, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt, UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen and UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer attend the Northwest Wisconsin Engineering Consortium celebration Tuesday, Oct. 13, at OEM Fabrica

Photo: From left, Ray Cross, James Schmidt, Van Galen and Bob Meyer

The collaboration that led to the addition of three new undergraduate engineering programs at University of Wisconsin institutions in northwest Wisconsin was celebrated Tuesday as a model that should be followed elsewhere in Wisconsin.
 
“This is the model we are going to see more of in the future,” said Ray Cross, president of the University of Wisconsin System, in an event at OEM Fabricators in Baldwin, referring to the establishment of the Northwest Wisconsin Engineering Consortium. UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls and UW-Stout formed the consortium to work collaboratively on bringing more engineers to northwest Wisconsin because of industry demand.
 
Cross said it was important that the consortium members established a strong partnership with business and industry, saying the collaboration “serves the needs of businesses in this region and the people who live and work here.”
 
In the last five months, the UW System Board of Regents has approved, in order, mechanical engineering at UW-Stout, materials science and engineering at UW-Eau Claire and agricultural engineering at UW-River Falls. The mechanical engineering program started this fall at UW-Stout and has 56 students enrolled. The UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls programs begin in fall 2016.
 
Mark Tyler, founder and president of OEM Fabricators and a Regent, said the new engineering programs will provide “a pipeline for engineering talent at our industries.”
 
Tyler added: “We are in different industries, but we all have the same need for more engineers.”
 
Devin Berg, program director for mechanical engineering at UW-Stout, described the core curriculum for first-year engineering students that will be shared by the three institutions, allowing the students to transfer freely if they choose to.
 
“I think we have a pretty bright future for where those students are headed with their careers,” Berg added.
 
UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen said the consortium shows that “great things happen when people work together.”
 
UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt said many business and industry leaders have indicated they often delay expansions because they don’t have the confidence that they will be able to find additional employees.
“It’s a new day,” Schmidt said of the consortium. “We are doing things differently, and we are doing them together.”
 
Other speakers included Chris Conger, director of technology development at Phillips-Medisize; Mike Miller, vice president of marketing at Oxbo International; and students Gavriel DePrenger-Gottfried of UW-Eau Claire; Megan Beisner of UW-River Falls; and Phillip Kraft of UW-Stout.
 
(Editors: For further information, contact Mike Rindo, 715-836-4742, at UW-Eau Claire; Beth Schommer, 715-425-0662, at UW-River Falls; or Doug Mell, 715-232-1198, at UW-Stout.)