Alumna gives back through scholarship

Written by Ruth Wendlandt on Wed, 01/08/2020 - 13:38 |
Jill furman

“I went to undergrad more or less for free. It has always been very important to me to pay that back,” said UW-Platteville alumna Jill Furman ’03. “There were so many different scholarships and work experience opportunities the university helped me find that paid for my education.”

Following graduation, Furman earned her master’s degree in electrical engineering from UW-Madison and with her first pay check out of graduate school she created the Jill Pamperin and Miles Hill “Lab Rat” Scholarship.

“I wanted to reverse-payback my student loans,” she said. “UW-Platteville is a great university with a good ethic, hands-on work, and having teachers there to support. My training at Platteville really made a difference in my career.”

Furman dedicated her scholarship to her friend and classmate Miles Hill. “While he could build anything electronic without much effort, learning from textbooks was difficult for Miles” she said. “His GPA was not in a place where he could receive a scholarship, but he had a real need for financial assistance. He was one of the most brilliant people I have seen in my major. I wanted to dedicate a scholarship to “Lab Rats” [people that spend a lot of time in the labs] in his honor.”

The scholarship is allocated by the Electrical Engineering Department and is not based on academic merit, but on a student’s ability to do hands-on work, according to Furman.

“I hope students take away the ability to spend a little more time focused on their education and a little less time focused on funding their education,” she said.

Furman is currently the Global Product Manager at GE Healthcare in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is responsible for the management and disruptive growth of portfolio of global patient monitoring product lines, totaling more than $100 million in annual revenue with sales in more than 200 countries.

“The training I had at UW-Platteville and UW-Madison in electrical engineering makes me a good leader in my role,” she said. “I have a technical background and since I have finished my MBA at the University of Denver, I have the business side as well to help solve problems.”

Prior to her role at GE Healthcare, Furman served as engineering manager, project manager, and product manager at different companies in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During her tenure as an Analog Application Specific Integrated Circuit Designer at Agilent Technologies, Furman earned two patents. Her ASIC designs fly in space, bring world-class resolution to medical imaging machines, measure incredibly small signals in hand-held multi-meters, and trigger some of the world’s fastest oscilloscopes.

“I consider the patents the highest honor an engineer can receive,” she said. “It was incredibly fulfilling. My technology is allowing us to have even greater resolution on medical X-rays so we can detect cancer sooner. In addition, putting stuff up in space is really cool.”

Of all of Furman’s accomplishments, there is still one that amazes her—being the December 2019 Principal Speaker at the UW-Platteville College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science commencement ceremony.

“I think of it as my highlight of my career achievements to this point. I can’t think of a higher honor that I have received,” she said.

Furman also serves on the UW-Platteville Biomedical Engineering Advisory Board. “It gives me a pretty good insight into the needs of a very large local employer [GE Healthcare] of biomedical engineers,” she said. “Being able to sit on the board helps me help UW-Platteville train the graduates I want to hire.”

As Furman continues to give back through her scholarship, equipment donations, or mentoring students, she encourages others to do the same. “It always made sense to repay the gift that was given to me when I was a very young student,” she said. “There’s never a good time to give back, there’s never a bad time either. I really wanted to make sure during my living years to experience being able to donate and give back.”