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 New UW engineering transfer agreements get OK


 Casey Fryda


Regional academic, manufacturing leaders applaud new mechanical, electrical and environmental engineering technology degrees

Future engineers can start three new bachelor's degrees at NWTC and 12 other sites throughout Northeast Wisconsin starting in 2013.

Students entering the new Leadership in Engineering Technology program and pursuing any of its three degrees can begin their academic studies at NWTC or any other of 13 Northeastern Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance (NEW ERA) colleges. They will finish the program and earn their bachelor's degrees at either UW-Green Bay or UW Oshkosh. The agreement was approved by the UW System Board of Regents this month.

New degree options are:

  • Mechanical Engineering Technology bachelor of science degree
  • Electrical Engineering Technology bachelor of science degree
  • Environmental Engineering Technology bachelor of science degree

The degrees are designed to make it easier for students in the New North region to enter these high-demand fields and to meet manufacturers’ demands for new infusions of well-prepared engineering graduates.

What's new: Students in Northeast Wisconsin can start a bachelor's degree in mechanical, electrical or environmental engineering technology at 13 area colleges and finish in our area, rather than having to move to Milwaukee, Platteville or Michigan.

The program is scheduled to launch in the 2013-14 academic year, made possible through collaboration between the NEW ERA institutions, colleges and an array of business partners.

What's the advantage? People who need to stay in Northeast Wisconsin to attend college (including working adults and students living at home) can complete an engineering technology degree without having to move. In addition, NWTC offers many classes and services online and in regional centers, making them especially flexible.

Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn, president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, called development of the new degrees “a very creative, innovative way to build much-needed technical expertise in one of the strongest manufacturing regions in the country.”

“We’re sharing resources, improving credit transfer between institutions and providing access to the basic classes all over Northeast Wisconsin,” Rafn said. “That makes this the best solution not only for our business community, but for taxpayers and students as well. Many details, such as standard practices, are still being worked out, but we are able to do that because of our work with NEW ERA and that commitment to building the economy of the New North.”

What's the difference between engineering and engineering technology? Trades and Engineering Technologies Dean Mark Weber says that engineering technology is more hands-on, might include more trips to a shop floor; straight engineering is more theoretical, more involved with "number crunching." Surveys say New North employers want both specialties.

Employers agree. “This program is critical for manufacturers to remain competitive, as it provides a very well rounded engineering degree that can be used in multiple areas of our businesses,” said Mark Kaiser, president and CEO of Lindquist Machine Corporation of Green Bay and chairman of the NEW Manufacturing Alliance. “This allows us to offer maximum flexibility and speed to market, as well as helping keep our costs at competitive levels.”

UW System leaders were equally enthusiastic.

"With these collaborative degree programs, our institutions will be better able to respond to changing educational and workforce needs here in Northeastern Wisconsin,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden. “There are some logistical details we have yet to finalize, but the Board of Regents' approval is a major step in the important process of implementing these engineering degree programs. Together, we look forward to better serving the students of our region, and ultimately boosting economic development in the New North."

NEW ERA institutions plan to effectively and efficiently deliver the Engineering Technology program based on the breadth of faculty expertise, both conceptual and hands-on application, combined with the state-of-the art laboratory equipment, technology and facilities at the region’s four Wisconsin Technical Colleges, the five two-year UW colleges, UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh and the College of Menominee Nation.


UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells said the program’s development and approval represents the NEW ERA’s most significant accomplishment to date.

“Like never before, NEW ERA institutions and colleges and New North manufacturing and workforce leaders came together,” Wells said. “They identified a regional challenge, developed a nationally-distinctive educational solution and relied on the knowledge and talent of faculty and staff from our regional array of higher education communities to collaboratively design and develop high-quality, high-demand programs,” Wells said.

UW Oshkosh Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Lane Earns said he expects the response by students to the new programs will be tremendous.

“We expect this program will hit the ground running, benefitting from a surge of strong enrollment from students throughout the New North,” Earns said. “They will be students eager to dive into a high-quality and high-tech program never before offered in our region. These degrees are built upon an education that is accessible and develops career-propelling, quality-of-life-enhancing knowledge and leadership in high demand by regional employers.”

The degrees’ approval is a positive step for the institutions and businesses involved, said Martin Rudd, Campus Executive Officer, Dean, and Professor of Chemistry at UW-Fox Valley.

“These exciting new bachelor of science collaborative degrees in three completion major areas of engineering technology represent a tremendous commitment from the institutions of NEW ERA and regional manufacturers to serve the needs of business in the New North area,” Rudd said. “I am delighted to continue to expand the suite of academic engineering programs that we collectively offer.”


Call NWTC Trades and Engineering Technologies, (920) 498-5461, or email

Start a UW bachelor's degree in mechanical, electrical or environmental engineering at NWTC