“This will be a great option for alumni and current students, as they will have the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree without having to move or quit their current job,” Ackley said. “By ensuring that WTCS students have the ability to transfer between WTCS schools and guaranteeing the acceptance of SACA certifications at UW-Stout regardless of the degree program, this pathway simplifies the credit and knowledge/skills transfer for students.
“We are excited for the opportunity to partner further because we recognize that both our students and our industry partners are looking for this type of degree and appreciate the flexibility that UW-Stout is able to offer,” Ackley said.
Technical + leadership skills
Automation leadership also will develop students’ skills in management, leadership and quality improvement through SACA-aligned core courses such as Project Management, Organizational Leadership, Lean Manufacturing, Digital Transformation, Internet of Things in Manufacturing and Automation Leadership.
Program graduates will enter the workforce with strong credentials — SACA certifications, which they can complete before or after transferring to UW-Stout, and industry experience through a required co-op or internship.
UW-Stout projects that within five years the program will have about 80 graduates and an annual average enrollment of about 50. In addition to transfer students, current UW-Stout bachelor’s students in engineering, technology and management have expressed interest in the program.
Automation leadership is a good fit with UW-Stout’s already strong programs and faculty in science, engineering and technology — especially expertise from the department of operations and management, which will oversee the program along with Program Director Xuejun “Jason” Liu. Three new courses have been developed for the program, but they also will dovetail with existing STEM university programs.
Professor David Ding, director of the Robert F. Cervenka School of Engineering and associate dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management, said the program is a perfect fit for UW-Stout.
“To increase entry points, it provides students the opportunity to start from high school all the way through options for a master’s program to become a leader in digital and automation transformation in manufacturing. UW-Stout’s mission is to prepare students for careers through applied learning and research, professional experiences, and collaborative partnerships to benefit a global society,” Ding said.
UW-Stout offers a master’s degree in operations and supply management.
The program aligns with the mission of UW-Stout’s Discovery Center, the primary outreach and engagement organization for regional businesses. The Northwest Manufacturing Outreach Center is part of the Discovery Center.