The rising tide of science and engineering talent

Posted on 15. Nov, 2010 by in Gift Report, In Depth, Issues

On May 18-21, 2011, UW-Madison will take center stage in the national effort to nurture a new generation of talented scientists and engineers. More than 6,000 participants and visitors will descend on campus for the 27th annual Science Olympiad National Tournament, the largest scholastic science competition in North America.Science Olympiad is one of the best programs I have encountered for inspiring a lasting interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Dean Paul Peercy

Dean Paul S. Peercy. Photo: David Nevala

Its strength is in its diversity: Middle and high school teams engage in 23 different competitions, in topics ranging from human health, chemistry and ecology to cell biology, geology and engineering. A team’s success ultimately depends upon the collective effort across all of these different challenges.

The 2011 event is going to be fun, high-energy, challenging and entertaining. We have a program in the works that will showcase UW-Madison as a world-class research university and highlight Wisconsin and the upper Midwest as a hub for innovative companies and careers.

And as you can see from the impressive list of logos on this page, we have tremendous support from corporate sponsors to help make this a truly memorable event for participants.

At the College of Engineering, we are committed to Science Olympiad on a grassroots level as well. Through a program called Young Scientists of America (YSA), groups of engineering undergraduates have been traveling to middle schools and high schools across the region, helping them set up after-school Science Olympiad teams. In the past decade, we have helped add more than two dozen teams to the Wisconsin tournament. You will read more about YSA in our lead feature on alumnus Carl Marschke. His leadership and generosity has made this great program possible.

The current and predicted shortage of talent in STEM-related professions pose a threat to American competitiveness. We are committed to help stem the tide and have a number of other programs that connect with young people at key junctures. Those include:

  • Camp Badger: This series of five weeklong summer camps targets eighth-grade students and helps answer the question, “What do engineers do?” through hands-on exercises, company tours, work in high-tech labs and team-building projects. We serve more than 180 students each summer. Read more about Camp Badger on page 26.
  • Engineering Summer Program: The oldest summer program at UW-Madison at 38 years, ESP gives 25 students a six-week immersion in the scientific rigor and hands-on nature of engineering. This program is especially effective in getting underrepresented students involved in engineering, including students of color, women of all backgrounds and first-generation college students.

The common denominator in all of these programs is private investment. We could not be more grateful for the support of our alumni and corporate partners in fueling the pipeline of future engineers—and for all you do to help them succeed once they arrive here as undergraduates.

View a list of corporate sponsors.

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