UW-Platteville collaborates with John Deere to offer new, customized class

UW-Platteville campus sign

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science is collaborating with John Deere Dubuque Works for a unique opportunity, teaching a software engineering course to the company’s engineers on John Deere’s campus.

The process started last summer, when John Deere reached out to UW-Platteville to inquire about software engineering classes. UW-Platteville faculty met with John Deere and determined that their needs covered material not taught in any singular class but spread out over multiple classes. Faculty in UW-Platteville’s Computer Science and Software Engineering Department identified the topics John Deere was looking for and created a new, 16-weeklong class specifically for John Deere employees. The new class – Introduction to Embedded Programming – launched last fall and is taught by Dr. Joshua Yue, associate professor of computer science and software engineering.

John Deere provided all the software, computers, textbooks and other materials so that everything was available to its employees inside its facility. The collaboration proved to be a learning experience for UW-Platteville faculty too.

“John Deere had to teach Professor Yue what software engineers actually do in the field,” said Dr. Afzal Upal, chair of UW-Platteville’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. “The homework and projects had to get these students ready for the work they’d be doing, so we had to know exactly what kind of programming they do. It’s an interesting learning experience for us. We are so focused on hands-on, real-world skills, and John Deere is one of the bigger employers to hire our students. If we know what they are using, we’re able to bring that information back to our classes here as well.”

John Deere had more than 50 engineers express interest in the class and had to go through a selection process to choose 15 of them to take the first session of the class, which ended in December of last year. The current session will conclude in May, and because of the demand and how well things are going, UW-Platteville expects to offer at least one more session. The class has been so beneficial to both John Deere and UW-Platteville, that Upal said they are exploring the potential for additional future classes.

“It was a good experience for us. It helps our faculty members build relationships and strengthen our partnerships with industry,” said Upal.