On June 11, the University of Wisconsin (UW) System announced that it, along with five of its campuses, will partner with with the Milwaukee Water Council to bring Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) together to create learning opportunities for students interested in water-related careers. The program will specifically focus on creating new approaches to sustainable management of water resources.
The UW System proposes to be a pilot site for the BHEF STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project.
Composed of Fortune 500 CEO’s, prominent college and university presidents, and other leaders, BHEF addresses the fundamental issues to global competitiveness by innovating strategic, evidence-based solutions for applications at the national, regional and local levels.
The UW System’s effort in this project will focus on water and will include four of the System’s institutions – UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Superior. These institutions are positioned to play high level regional, national, and international roles in water research and curricular and pedagogical innovation around water related education for undergraduates, including minority or underrepresented students.
The program, titled “Building a UW System Sustainable Pipeline for Wisconsin’s Water-Based Economy,” is one of several in the country aimed at retaining enrollment in STEM-related degree programs during the first years of undergraduate work. It has become imperative for students in the United States to continue to seek science and technology degrees if the country is to compete for jobs in the global market. The UW System is making its programs more attractive and allowing students to see the direct benefits of a STEM degree by focusing its application on water–one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
In addition to promoting STEM degree programs, the project seeks to create university/business linkages with the local water companies, Milwaukee Water Council, local aquaculture industry, and paper science and water engineering companies in north-central Wisconsin.
Water-related STEM programing in the UW System include:
UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences is going to create an Aquatic Research Experience for Undergraduates in addition to their graduate programs. This will include science, technology, engineering, and math students from other UW System institutions.
UW-Madison’s Sea Grant Institute and its Center for Limnology, two examples among many units focusing on water, will advance STEM activities by promoting Great Lakes and ocean sciences at the K-12 and undergraduate levels.
UW-Stevens Point will commit to expanding enrollment of STEM students. This will give students access to the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station, a Water and Environmental Analysis Laboratory, the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology Laboratory, and a state-of-the-art Paper Laboratory.
UW-Superior’s Partnerships in Education Program will involve a comprehensive freshman-to-senior-year experience centered in the Lake Superior Research Institute and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. It will also offer a water-focused STEM curriculum sequence that includes discovery-based skills-development and hands-on research activities in freshwater conservation and water quality.
UW-Whitewater also has an ongoing devotion to water-related work with its revolutionary Integrated Science/Business Water major and minor programs.
We are excited to continue to partner with the UW System to help them leverage the tremendous potential of the Great Lakes region to become a global center of water research and development. The UW System’s devotion to applying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to the region’s freshwater resources is a great example of the holistic approach to water that the Milwaukee Water Council fosters through such partnerships. When we invest in our students today, we ensure a better future tomorrow.