UW System approves new engineering school at UWGB

A mechanical engineering program might be coming to UWGB. (WLUK/Tim Flanigan)

(WLUK) -- Aspiring mechanical engineers will be able to complete their degrees in Northeast Wisconsin under a plan approved by the University of Wisconsin System's Board of Regents.

The regents on Friday gave the okay for UW-Green Bay to begin an engineering school and offer bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering. The mechanical engineering program will be the school's first four-year engineering degree. UWGB already collaborates with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to offer environmental, electrical and mechanical technology engineering programs.

“This is a monumental day for our community and our region, one that’s been 30 years in the making,” UWGB Chancellor Gary Miller said in a news release. “Business leaders in this community have wanted engineering to be offered at UW-Green Bay for decades; we are now on the cusp of something very transformational for this community, our economy, and most importantly, our students, who are the workforce of the future.”

UWGB is planning to accept students into the mechanical engineering program beginning in the fall.

“The need for engineering talent in Northeast Wisconsin is extreme," John Katers, dean of UWGB's College of Science and Technology, said in a news release. "This region has the most open positions for engineers in the state, and has seen an 18% increase in demand for engineers since 2010. As an aspiring engineer, I had to leave the Green Bay area to complete my engineering degree. Our future students won’t need to do that.”

The regents also gave UWGB permission to give naming rights for the new engineering school to a donor. The donor is expected to be publicly identified Monday morning.

The resolution approved by the regents requires UWGB to have at least $1.2 million in cash donated to support the mechanical engineering degree before enrolling students, along with donation commitments between $800,000 and $1 million for the next four years.

Miller says UWGB has already secured more thn $7.1 million in donations to support the school of engineering as well as the construction of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics building on campus. That building will be owned by Brown County and be part of Phoenix Innovation Park, to be located on the UWGB campus. Plans call for the building to also house the Brown County UW Extension office, the Brown County Land and Water Conservation Department and The Einstein Project. The Einstein Project is an outreach program promoting science and math education to area schools.

“I’m excited to get to the next step in this venture when we begin construction on the home for this engineering school – the STEM Innovation Center,” Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach said in a news release. “For me, this STEM Innovation Center is about being a hands-on partner for providing solutions and coming together to ensure all our students have opportunities to be tomorrow’s innovators.”

Brown County and the State of Wisconsin are each contributing $5 million toward the construction of the new building.

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