Tuesday – November 21, 2017

H2Options: Project Overview

In 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin was designated by the United Nations as a Fresh Water Global Compact City, making it one of only two Global Compact cities worldwide that have a water quality focus. As a result of this designation, and in response to the workforce needs of over 120 southeastern Wisconsin water technology businesses, Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and a regional partnership of Technical colleges and universities, workforce investment boards,K-12 systems, and water-driven industries and businesses researched occupations and specific academic knowledge and technical skills essential for individuals to work in emerging water technology occupations.Representatives from the industry, community, business, and partners from the greater Milwaukee area and higher education institutions reviewed previous work by the American Water Works Association, the U.S. Department of Labor and others in identifying career clusters, competencies, curricula and career pathways for K-16 schools, and incumbent workers. Building these studies and new knowledge, they identified gaps to be filled to meet the specific personnel and skill needs of SE Wisconsin's water technology businesses and emerging occupations.

Based on the previous efforts, the H20ptions project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks to fill these gaps by modifying and developing new associate degree and technical certificate water technology programs, and establish high school and university articulations as part of a water technology career pathway. This project will result in the training of new water industry technicians to meet the growing workforce demands of the water industry in southeastern Wisconsin. These degrees and certificates will serve students at MATC and partner institutions, including underrepresented and disadvantaged students, as well as incumbent and dislocated workers. New associate degree to baccalaureate articulation programs will benefit technical college students wishing to advance their technical academic credentials to professional level credentials in water technology and other STEM programs. Through articulation, regional high school students will be introduced to opportunities in water technology and gain basic competencies to transition into 2- and 4- year programs. Students will also benefit from internships,service learning, and mentoring opportunities.

TheH20ptions project will result in:

  • Establishment of several new associate degree programs and technical certificates relevant to water industries with curriculum focused on civil engineering, environmental science, water chemistry, waste water treatment, water/waste water process control.
  • Associate degree to baccalaureate degree articulation agreements between technical colleges and area universities in engineering, chemistry, biology, environmental sciences, and other areas.
  • Development of water technology career clusters in regional high schools that link STEM and other courses to water technology-related associate and baccalaureate degree programs and water careers.
  • Development of water-related internship and service learning opportunities for students, as well as a program to link students and mentors in the water industry and sciences.

Intellectual Merit: The intellectual merit of the project will be to identify new articulation areas;to expand knowledge of specific skills, tasks and technology needed in water technology sectors;to develop networks and partnerships;to make the expanded curriculum for these pathways available nationally; and to create the foundation for potential development of a NSF Advanced Technological Education Fresh Water Center.

Broader Impacts: This project will result in at least one modified associate degree (AAS) program, one new AAS program, two new associate in science (AS) degrees, and at least five new certificate programs. In addition, there will be new AAS to BS transfer articulations, incumbent worker promotional opportunities, adult and youth career pathways leading to water industry employment through internship and service learning programs, and hands-on opportunities for middle school students to learn about careers in the water industry before entering high school.