A professor whose students work with a Native American business in northern Wisconsin and another professor who collaborates with corporations to provide industry input in the classroom have been recognized by University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Steve Nold and Min DeGruson have received the Excellence in Partnering with External Stakeholders Award from the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management.
The objective of the new award is to recognize exceptional effort and accomplishment in connecting STEMM with external stakeholders to benefit students and meet the needs of society. The overall goal is to foster the relationship between the College of STEMM and the professional community it supports.
Nold and DeGruson each received $1,000 and a plaque. The award will be presented annually to two people who are full-time professors or instructional staff members.
“These awards were developed to recognize the extra effort faculty have invested to enhance the Stout experience,” said CSTEMM Dean Chuck Bomar. “It’s also a recognition of a commitment of faculty and staff to our polytechnic tenets. These include applied learning, career focus and collaboration with business.”
Nold, a professor of biology, is working with Copper Crow Distillery in Red Cliff, on tribal lands in northeastern Wisconsin, to make vodka from whey, a byproduct of the dairy industry. “We cultivated and characterized wild yeast strains capable of fermenting lactose in the whey to ethanol,” Nold said.
Students in seven UW-Stout classes, so far, have helped with the original research, along with six students doing independent study projects.
“The project is providing economic development in an underserved and economically depressed area of the state. We are also discovering ways to create a commercial product out of a common but underutilized waste steam in the dairy state,” Nold said.
DeGruson, an assistant professor of packaging, has partnered with more than a dozen companies to provide guest lectures, medical devices for research projects, materials for labs and as project reviewers for packaging classes. The companies include Boston Scientific, DuPont, General Mills, Medtronic, Phillips-Medisize and Prent.
She also helped develop a UW-Stout degree completion program with several universities in China — bringing 30 to 50 Chinese students to campus each year — and has been active in the Packaging Matters campaign to improve the university’s packaging labs.
“The relationships with the medical industry, the guest speakers for courses and the collaboration with the Chinese universities are ongoing,” DeGruson said.
UW-Stout values its partnerships with external stakeholders. More than 600 companies, for example, are part of the university’s Cooperative Education Program. The Fall Career Conference is expected to draw about 400 employers Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 24-25.
A student works in a packaging lab at UW-Stout during Min DeGruson’s Packaging Material: Polymers and Glass course.