Pioneer Spotlight - Bob Stuewer
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Bob Stuewer works as the College of Menominee Nation program manager at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. The university has had this partnership with the College of Menominee Nation and UW-Madison for four years.
The goals of the program are to:
- Build CMN’s capacity and infrastructure to sustain its pre-engineering associate degree program
- Implement a pre-engineering program of distinction
- Graduate at least 20 students from CMN’s pre-engineering program and transition them into UW-Madison and UW-Platteville engineering programs by 2015.
The program is supported by a five-year National Science Foundation Pre-Engineering Education Collaboratives grant.
Tell me about the partnership between UW-Platteville and CMN.
We are in the fourth year. The partnership involves the College of Menominee Nation, UW-Platteville and UW-Madison. CMN is the lead on the grant. They were looking to develop a pre-engineering curriculum and program, an associate’s degree in arts and sciences in pre-engineering. They were looking for partners. They reached out to UW-Platteville and to UW-Madison.
The idea is that their associate’s degree will cover all of the basic general education requirements and it’ll be a seamless transfer to either UW-Platteville or UW-Madison.
How would you describe the popularity of the program?
There are very few Native American students who are going into engineering. If you look at a pie chart, underrepresented students is a sliver of a pie and within that you have a much smaller sliver. The popularity of the program, I believe, is gaining some traction. There definitely are students who are now more aware of it, and are looking into it. The issues have remained that for a Native American student to pick up tent stakes and head to a traditional four-year campus away from home is so far outside of their comfort level.
What are the goals of the partnership in the next 3-5 years?
One of the goals is to definitely establish sustainability so that it isn’t just a five year, “Well, we tried this,” and it’s done program. We want to institutionalize the program so that it remains sustainable, that we can continue to build that relationship. We are using the existing partnership we have to explore some other things as well.
At UW-Platteville we have a very low population of Native American students. One of the factors that comes into play is the distance from their home regions. We want to make this an attractive destination for students. There’s been a lot of work done, such as culture competency training, instruction for faculty and staff to make faculty more aware of certain things like historical trauma for Native American students and making it a place where they feel comfortable.
We feel that UW-Platteville is a very attractive route because of the collaborative program at UW-Fox Valley. The first graduate of the CMN program took classes at Fox Valley last semester.
Another important thing that is important was gaining credibility in their community. UW-Platteville is here and we want to work side by side and even let CMN take the lead on this. We want to make people more aware that we are bringing these degrees to their community. We’re making engineering degrees more accessible to these unique populations.
There is so much untapped potential within these communities.
Interview conducted by: Dan Wackershauser, University Information and Communications.
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