In light of current economic challenges, it is clear that two of our state’s top priorities are the economy and jobs.
In this type of economy, it is essential to identify the things that are working well and preserve them. To help show the positive impact UW–Platteville and other UW System institutions are having on the economy, UW System recently launched a Knowledge Powers Wisconsin campaign.
The campaign’s website, www.uwpowerwi.com, illustrates that UW–Platteville and other UW System institutions, students, and graduates are having a positive impact on the economic development of their communities and are improving Wisconsin’s competitive edge in the global marketplace by powering economic growth in agriculture, energy, engineering, healthcare, human resources, manufacturing, security, technology, online learning, and many other areas.
UW–Platteville clearly stands out as one of the leading higher education institutions in the state in many areas, some of which are science, technology, engineering, mathematics, agriculture, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, and business. We will release an economic impact study in the near future that will illustrate, in dollar figures, how well we are contributing to the economic development of the region.
The university’s outstanding faculty as well as partnerships and connections that they have formed with businesses and industries in Platteville and the broader region have helped us create outstanding opportunities for our students to become actively involved in experiential learning activities that make them more marketable.
To highlight just a few examples:
• Students from all disciplines are conducting research under the mentorship of faculty and staff at our new Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors, a student–faculty collaborative effort. Students’ finest academic and creative achievements are showcased in an online journal. Students retain full ownership of their research manuscripts and have the opportunity to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals.
• Microsystems and nanotechnology engineering students are using state-of-the-art equipment in our Nanocharacterization and Materials Fabrication Laboratory to learn how to make and measure nanoscale materials. This hands-on experience allows them to learn skills that could someday allow them to contribute to overcoming critical challenges in renewable energy, water purification, and new ways to fight disease.
• Biogeography students are analyzing tree-ring samples to discover changes in our ecosystem and then work to restore the native communities of plants and other life to the landscape.
• Engineering students experienced outstanding success in hands-on student design contests, including projects in designing concrete canoes, steel bridges, and high-powered rockets as well as machine and manufacturing facilities.
• Students in a biological investigations class worked on a lake water clarity project to convert farmland, wetlands, forest, prairie and a man-made pond back to a natural state.
• Government students had the opportunity to talk about issues with state Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) during his visit to our campus in March. I also spoke with students in Prof. Adrienne Jones’ Introduction to Government class about race-conscious admissions. I was impressed with their knowledge, curiosity, and engaging conversations about this topic.
• Fine arts students have the opportunity to perform in music and theater events in front of community members and school children of all ages. Students also have the chance to practice and perform on a newly purchased Steinway “D” concert grand piano.
• Industrial studies students are working with a state of the art injection molder to shape plastic, metal, or ceramic material through injection into a closed mold in our Center for Plastics Processing Technology Center. The injection molder was donated to the Center by Wisconsin Tool and Mold Company, Inc. The Center is an educational partnership between industry and the university, using plastics processing equipment that is designed and provided by leading manufacturers. The Center, a laboratory worth more than $1 million, is one of the best-equipped facilities in the upper Midwest. It has the capability to complete projects from testing new materials to plant layout to prototype production.
The partnerships and connections that we have with business and industry in Platteville and the broader region have also helped our students become employed quickly upon graduation in high growth, high-demand fields. UW–Platteville plays a critical role in the economic development of the state by linking its graduates to job opportunities in all levels of high-demand fields ranging from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to criminal justice, business, agriculture, education and the arts. Our graduates are highly marketable and in demand by employers and we continue to see increases in opportunities for all of our graduates.
As UW–Platteville moves forward, we remain committed to playing a strong role in the economic development of our region and state by educating and training a highly skilled workforce that meets the needs of local, regional, and state employers. This will help stimulate economic activity and growth, strengthen our communities, and support business and industry. All of us — community members and leaders in business, industry, government, and education — working together can have a great impact on the economic development of this region, and prove that knowledge truly does power Wisconsin.