By Derek Woellner —

University of Wisconsin–Stout may soon be offering three new engineering programs. The planned additions of mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering programs to Stout come as part of a consortium with University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and University of Wisconsin–River Falls. If the consortium is approved, the three schools will share a core curriculum for their new engineering programs that would allow students to transfer between the schools more smoothly.

The consortium is being developed to fill the need for more engineers in Northwestern Wisconsin. Steven Rasmussen, Dunn County Board chair, believes, “If students get their engineering degrees in this area, they are more likely to stay here to work.” Businesses in the area seem to agree.

Chris Conger, director of technology development for Phillips-Medisize Corp., says, “We badly need electrical and mechanical engineers from our region’s schools.” He says his company, headquartered in Hudson, has a hard time attracting students from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and University of Wisconsin–Madison.

But opponents to the consortium from UW-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Platteville don’t seem to think that’s true. They have argued that a consortium between the three northwestern schools would simply take prospective students away from them rather than increase the supply of engineers.

The UW System Board of Regents will discuss the consortium this Friday. It is expected that the Regents will approve the addition of mechanical engineering to Stout but not electrical or chemical. Chancellor Bob Meyer said, “I don’t think we are going to get all three programs.” If the Board makes the final decision on Friday, Stout could be offering mechanical engineering as soon as next fall.

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