Meeting Wisconsin's Needs
Valley campuses collaborate on engineering degree
|UW System officials finalize the creation of the new collaborative engineering degree program offered by UW-Platteville and UW-Fox Valley. At the podium is James W. Perry, dean of UW-Fox Valley. Seated from left are William F. Messner, chancellor of UW Colleges; David J. Markee, chancellor of UW-Platteville; Richard D. Shultz, dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science at UW- Platteville; and William J. Welch, president of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry.|
One of the strongest examples of the future of education in the 21st century is the new collaborative engineering degree program offered by UW- Platteville and UW-Fox Valley.
Part of the Board of Regents' Economic Stimulus Package, the new mechanical engineering degree is designed with a focus on the student and the employer as customers. The program will serve students, who are time- and place-bound, and employers, who have need for workers with greater expertise and higher-level skills.
"Through the years, UW-Platteville has responded to the changing needs of the state and its students-designing, developing, and implementing new engineering programs," says UW-Platteville Chancellor David J. Markee. "We are proud to enter this partnership, with our fellow UW System institution and with business and industry in the Fox River Valley, and to offer the workforce in the Fox Valley the opportunity to further develop their skills without leaving the region."
UW-Platteville is in the process of hiring two additional faculty members in mechanical engineering for the program. UW-Fox Valley, the two-year UW Colleges campus in Menasha, will be the site of semester-length courses, offered in the afternoon or evening by UW-Platteville professors.
Additionally, UW-Platteville will have one permanent staff member on the UW-Fox Valley campus to promote and manage the program and interact with students. Students will have access to general education and support courses at UW-Fox Valley and at UW-Oshkosh.
"The collaborative agreement between UW-Platteville and UW-Fox Valley to offer this accredited engineering program marks the dawn of a new era for northeastern Wisconsin," says UW-Fox Valley Dean James W. Perry. "No longer will students, many of whom are employees of local firms, need to choose between obtaining the credentials that will allow them to advance in their professions and leaving their jobs, home, and families to further their education."
The collaborative degree program stems from the longstanding relationship between the UW campuses in Platteville and Menasha and Wisconsin's Fox Valley, defined as the demographic area extending from Green Bay to Fond du Lac along the Fox River.
For nearly a decade, the two UW institutions have had an agreement enabling students who complete UW-Fox Valley's pre-engineering program to transfer to UW-Platteville as upper-level students. This approach has worked well for traditional students who have chosen to remain in the Fox Valley for their first two years of college.
But the need for greater accessibility to engineering education and an accredited degree, particularly for individuals employed in Fox Valley industries, kept growing. This caused the Economic Development Committee of the Fox Cities in 1997 to call a meeting to discuss the issue.
Since then, hundreds of people have worked together to develop the collaborative degree program in mechanical engineering. Those people have included staff from UW-Fox Valley, UW Colleges, UW-Platteville and UW System, along with Fox Valley business leaders, state legislators, representatives from the Governor's Office, and Gov. Scott McCallum. Fox Valley industries, meanwhile, have committed $500,000 for start-up costs related to such needs as equipment and remodeling.
"The UW-Platteville/UW-Fox Valley program is a win-win-win situation," says UW System President Katharine Lyall. "The UW System wins by responding to the needs of the State of Wisconsin, extending the Wisconsin Idea to more of the state's citizens and assisting with economic development. Students in the Fox Valley win by gaining access to a prestigious accredited engineering degree program. Business and industry in the Fox Valley win because their employees can increase their expertise, and thus increase the ability of firms to offer high quality products and to develop new products."