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UW System seeks funding for fast-growing program at UWGB

By Lauren Waters

GREEN BAY – University of Wisconsin President Ray Cross, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller and Dean of UW-Green Bay’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology, John Katers, discussed funding to improve instructional spaces Monday, June 10.

The UW System is seeking $38 million in capital funding to modernize university classrooms for high-growth fields such as STEM education.

Part of this proposed project would include renovation of an electrical engineering technology laboratory on the UW-Green Bay campus.

“It’s easy to see this space is in need of significant changes,” said Katers. “This will allow us to take a largely underutilized resource and maximize the impact it can have for teaching and researching the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.”

Katers said when he became dean of the department in fall 2015, there were three existing engineering technology programs in place: electrical, mechanical and environmental, and there were 31 students in all three programs combined.

Just three years later in fall 2018, there were 150 students in the program.

“We’ve seen phenomenal growth, and we’re just getting started,” he said. “We’re really only in our fourth year of the program, but the partnerships and connections we’ve been able to make in a short time have been very encouraging to us.”

To further connect with the community, part of the renovation would be adding windows around the laboratories to make the space more visible to the public.

“We do a lot of community projects with businesses within the industry and getting them more involved in the process has been great,” Katers said. “We’d like to give them the opportunity to see what our students are actually doing in the classrooms.”

Katers said having local companies work with the faculty and students is imperative because those companies then hire the students into full-time positions.

This fact is very important to Miller, as well.

“We know from experience that most of these students will stay here and work here,” said Miller. “So what we’re trying to do is fill that talent gap for the community.”

Katers, Miller and Cross stressed the importance of modernizing the department in hopes of attracting more students to accommodate the state’s high demand of skilled, local engineering talent.

“Businesses in this community and around the state are screaming for talent,” said Cross. “This is an opportunity to help us meet the needs of Wisconsin in an efficient fashion and to better serve the needs of engineers and scientists.”
Cross said the $38 million requested would be shared by 10 projects around the state to modernize classrooms, specifically for instructional space and technology.

“This is an opportunity for the state to truly compete,” said Cross. “And if Wisconsin is going to compete, it has to grow its talent. It has to attract, develop and retain talent.”

The $38 million being sought by the UW System to update classrooms like the ones at UW-Green Bay are part of a $1.9 billion capital budget request to repair, renovate and replace outdated facilities throughout the state.

“The impact of this amount of money is enormous and a wonderful investment,” said Cross.

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