SkillsUSA students impressive; new state senator visits campus

For 35 years, UW-Stout has been hosting the Regional SkillsUSA competition, and I can’t tell you how impressed I was by the talent and ingenuity I saw on display last week as 380 students from high schools across Wisconsin came to campus.

The competition is sponsored by the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management and involved 75 of our students and 25 faculty and staff volunteers. Brian Finder, a professor in the operations and management department, is the glue that holds the event together.

A new competition this year involved students using remotely controlled robotic vehicles to search a simulated building for artificial ordnance. The course was built by a UW-Stout student, majoring in mechanical engineering, and his father.

SkillsUSA is intended to help participants get career information as well as learn about technology and develop leadership and technical skills.

As an engineer myself, I really enjoyed visiting with the students and seeing them getting even more excited about the STEM fields. It was great seeing a longtime colleague and alumnus, Brent Kindred, the technology and engineering education consultant at the state Department of Education. Brent was back at UW-Stout to participate in the event as the SkillsUSA Wisconsin executive director.

More information about the SkillsUSA is available here.

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We welcomed Sen. Schachtner to campus for the first time 

Last Monday, I had the pleasure of welcoming our new state senator, Patty Schachtner, to campus for the first time since her election in January. She replaces Sheila Harsdorf, who is now secretary of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Sen. Schachtner, who also is on the Somerset school board, met with the Stout Student Association, our governance leaders and my Cabinet, and I was able to spend a half hour with her. I was very impressed by her willingness to dive right into the important higher education issues in Wisconsin, especially our need for increased salaries for our faculty and staff and more operational and bonding flexibilities.

I also am pleased that Sen. Schachtner has secured a seat on the state Senate’s higher education committee, which former Sen. Harsdorf chaired for many years.  I look forward to working closely with Sen. Schachtner in the years to come.

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