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Friday, May 30, 2014

MaryBeth Matzek: Thirteen colleges come together for unique engineering degree


By MaryBeth Matzek
Come fall, students seeking a bachelor's degree in engineering technology will have a new option. They can start at one of 13 colleges and universities in northeast Wisconsin and finish up at either University of Wisconsin-Green Bay or UW-Oshkosh.

This unique collaborative program came about by listening to business leaders, who stress the need for more employees with bachelor's degrees in engineering technology, said Scott Furlong, dean of liberal arts and sciences at UW-Green Bay.

"This program will provide students with a degree that has some very explicit and specific employment opportunities in areas which manufacturers are saying they need," he said, adding the degree combines hands-on skills along with more in-depth critical thinking courses. Students with engineering technology degrees focus on application and implementation, rather than the theory and design work that engineers work on.

The regional bachelor's degree in engineering technology has been in the works for a number of years. Faculty from the 12 members of the Northeast Wisconsin Education Resource Alliance (NEW ERA) first came together to outline the necessary courses with input from local business leaders. The next step was getting approval from the UW Board of Regents, which came last summer. This week, the Higher Learning Commission gave its permission, which means a group of students can start the program this fall.

The partnership is designed to make entering the program -- which has focuses in electrical, mechanical and environmental engineering technology depending on the student's interest -- very accessible, Furlong said. For example, a student living in Marinette could start out by taking courses at UW-Marinette, a two-year college, or Northeast Wisconsin Technical College before finishing up at UW-Green Bay or UW-Oshkosh.

Fred Rice, Moraine Park Technical College's dean of applied technology and trades, said the new program brings together technical college and university educations. He added students in the program will benefit from the knowledge and expertise from both environments.

"All too often, students are faced with an 'us or them' proposition when it comes to college choices. The Engineering Technology degree is different in that it is actually an 'us and them' opportunity for students," he said.

NEW ERA members include: College of Menominee Nation; UW-Fond du Lac; Fox Valley Technical College; UW-Fox Valley; Lakeshore Technical College; UW–Manitowoc; Moraine Park Technical College; UW–Marinette; Northeast Wisconsin Technical College; UW– Sheboygan; UW-Green Bay; UW Extension; and UW-Oshkosh.

And the winner is ...

The 13 Governor's Business Plan Contest finalists will compete Tuesday for the top prize at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Conference in Madison.

This is their golden opportunity to present their ideas to a room full of potential investors.

The finalists include IT, health and manufacturing businesses. Click here for a full list of the finalists.

The winner will be announced Wednesday.

WEDC grant boosts Florence County

A once-vacant grocery store in Florence is seeing new life with help from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Since Haberkorn closed about seven years ago, Florence has been without a full-service grocery store. This week, the WEDC and the Florence County Economic Development Corp. year for the contest and finalists compete for than $100,000 in cash and prizes announced that Pat's Foods – a chain found in Michigan's Upper Peninsula – will open in the town by the end of June.

WEDC recently awarded Florence County a grant to assist in opening the store. With the grant, the project developer can be reimbursed up to $250,000.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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