December 19, 2014

Time to toot the ‘high tech’ horn

Both the UW-System and high-tech manufacturing companies in Southern Wisconsin need to do a better job at promoting themselves. That was a common theme at recent panel at a UW-Madison conference on university-business partnerships.

Mike Andrew, a global affairs director at Johnson Controls, said UW schools have “an excellent reputation” for research. However, he still encounters people outside Wisconsin who believe “if it’s worth happening, it’s only happening at MIT or Berkeley.”

Organic Valley COO Louise Hemstead said the flagship campus’ College of Agricultural and Life Science is nationally revered and “we need to keep right on the front of that.”

Moderator Tom Still, director of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said state policy makers need to understand that it’s important to promote Wisconsin research more.

AUDIO: Brian Moon reports (1:14)

The issue of new engineers leaving Wisconsin after graduation also came up. Paul Shane with Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee believes college students want know they have options beyond their first job. The HR professional said Wisconsin has a “tremendously high number” of Fortune 500 companies, therefore the Madison-to-Milwaukee region should promote itself as a hub to combat “brain drain” of engineers from the state.

Shane said Rockwell Automation works on this by developing relationships with both high school and college students. The company provides scholarships for Milwaukee high school students and partners with other firms, including Johnson Controls, in leadership conferences for college students.

AUDIO: Shane on plugging job opportunities (:45)