Tech colleges collaborate with UW-Oshkosh to meet employer demand

May 29, 2014

From thenorthwestern.com: “University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh among partners for new engineering degrees” — The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will soon be one of two four-year UW institutions to offer a new collaborative degree program aimed at meeting the demands of local employers.

Members of the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance announced Wednesday the creation of Bachelor of Science programs in electrical, mechanical and environmental engineering technology developed by faculty members at the alliance’s 13 institutions and colleges and regional manufacturers.

The program aims to make the training more accessible to students in northeast Wisconsin and to fulfill a growing need in the region for “well-prepared engineering graduates.”

UWO, along with UW-Green Bay, will serve as the four-year institutions where students can finish the program and earn their degrees, although students can begin their academic studies at any of the 13 NEW ERA institutions and colleges, said UWO Chancellor Richard Wells, who also serves as founding chairman of the alliance.

“That’s what makes it especially exciting and innovative and very accessible both for people who already have, say, an associate degree and extensive work experience as well students coming in right out of our high schools in the state of Wisconsin,” Wells said.

A consortium of executives from the region’s four technical colleges, five UW two-year colleges, two comprehensive universities, the College of the Menominee Nation and the UW Extension, NEW ERA serves as a vehicle for collaboration among higher learning institutions, economic and workforce development agencies and business.

The new degree programs will teach students the skills necessary to become engineering technologists in a variety of industries including manufacturing, construction, operational engineering, water and waste-water management, agribusiness, biotechnology and engineering service firms.

Through the use of existing laboratory facilities, such as UWO’s Environmental Research and Innovation Center, technical college instructors and university professors alike will be able to build on existing associate degree programs in hopes of supporting employees and employers in manufacturing and other industry sectors, said Mark Weber, dean of trades and engineering technologies at Green Bay-based Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Although many manufacturers in northeast Wisconsin already employ such graduates, they often lack a connection to the region and in some cases, the state, Weber said.

“Unfortunately, they were coming from universities outside of our region,” he said. “Additionally, several employers have indicated that they are encouraging many of their existing employees to return to school to complete these new programs.”

The effort serves as an example of the positive work higher education institutions can accomplish when they collaborate toward a common goal, said John Short, CEO and dean of UW-Fond du Lac.

“We were able to work together to meet the needs of our area,” Short said, noting leaders will continue to work with employers and others in the region to adapt to their changing needs. “This program is truly unique. It breaks down barriers, it brings together partners and it really meets the economic development needs of this area of the state.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: