News Bureau • Schofield Hall 201 • Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900
UW-Eau Claire Expands
MAILED: Nov. 5, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is recruiting additional students for its high-tech academic programs in an effort to help meet the needs of Wisconsin’s technology-related businesses, particularly those in western Wisconsin, a region known as Wisconsin’s Technology Valley.
By fall 2003, UW-Eau Claire will enroll at least 80 additional students in its computer science, software engineering and management information systems programs.
A $1 million commitment to UW-Eau Claire from the state of Wisconsin — known as the Chippewa Valley Initiative — is allowing the university to add faculty and support staff in high-tech program areas. Some of the monies also will be used to create state-of-the-art computer labs, and provide additional research and internship opportunities for students enrolled in technology programs.
The joint venture with UW-Stout is part of a UW System economic stimulus package designed to benefit the state — in this case, specifically western Wisconsin — as well as students, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Donald Mash said. The state had originally committed $2.4 million to the Chippewa Valley Initiative but funding was reduced during the state Legislature’s budget negotiations earlier this year.
“By increasing the number of graduates in our computer science, software engineering and MIS programs, we’ll provide area businesses with more highly qualified prospective employees,” Mash said, noting the Chippewa Valley is home to 15 percent of the state’s high-tech businesses while having just 3.5 percent of the state’s population. “A significant pool of technology graduates encourages businesses to grow their companies here, which allows even more of our students to begin their careers in the Chippewa Valley.”
Currently, about 600 students are enrolled in high-tech programs at UW-Eau Claire, with about 130 students graduating each year.
“Due to the strengths of our high-tech programs, employers target UW-Eau Claire students when recruiting technology graduates,” said Provost Ronald Satz. “More than 120 local and regional employers with interests in computer science, software engineering and MIS graduates visit our campus each year to try to fill some 200 positions in high technology areas.”
UW-Eau Claire’s computer science and MIS programs already have internships established with more than 100 companies, internships that often lead to full-time job offers.
Demand for qualified high technology professionals will likely continue to increase, experts say. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook projects the occupations of systems analyst, computer scientist and database administrator to be among the fastest growing occupations through 2010. Employment of computer specialists is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations as organizations continue to adopt and integrate increasingly sophisticated technologies, the Handbook states. It goes on to say growth will be driven by rapid growth in computer and data processing services, which is projected to be the fastest growing industry in the U.S. economy.
Students with an interest and ability in mathematics and logic, and who are detail oriented, have an aptitude for technology-related professions, thus MIS and computer science might be attractive majors for them, said Dr. James LaBarre, chair of UW-Eau Claire’s MIS department.
By increasing faculty and support staff in UW-Eau Claire’s high-tech program areas, smaller classes will be available, which will mean additional support for students interested in these challenging programs, said Dr. Andrew Phillips, chair of the computer science department.
Additional faculty also will allow more flexibility in times that courses are offered, which helps meet the needs of part-time and/or nontraditional students with an interest in technology-related careers, Phillips said.
“This initiative allows us to do an even better job of serving our traditional, full-time students, while increasing access for other students,” Phillips said.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: November 5, 2002