Daniel Monge, a senior in physics, used a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) “boot camp” as an opportunity to fine-tune a personal statement and work on leadership skills. Eric Vang, a senior in biology, saw it as a chance to network and start planning ahead for research opportunities.
Monge, Vang and others taking part in a winter course were among 20 students who recently had a chance to use the facilities of the university’s Cozzens and Cudahy Research Center, a wooded retreat on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
The two-story building, donated to UWM by entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael J. Cudahy, once served as the “think tank” for Marquette Electronics, a medical device company founded by Cudahy and Warren Cozzens.
One of the university’s uses for the building will be as a center for students to work with researchers from UWM and local corporations, as well as to discover and explore STEM careers, according to Joan Prince, vice chancellor for global inclusion and engagement. A special emphasis will be placed on recruitment of students who have traditionally been underrepresented in the STEM fields, she noted.
The boot camp, held Jan. 7-18, was sponsored by UWM and the Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP) to prepare the 20 students involved for opportunities to participate in undergraduate research and internships locally as well as nationally.
A visit from the founder
Michael J. Cudahy stopped by one morning during the boot camp to visit with students, answer questions, talk a little bit about how he got started in business, relate the history of the building and offer advice on building careers in the STEM fields.
In addition to hard work, research and development were critical to the success of Marquette Electronics, which focused on electronic medical equipment, he explained. Many of the company’s products grew from ideas born in the Cozzens and Cudahy center. “I’m feeling a little bit nostalgic,” Cudahy confessed as he looked around the room.
Also visiting was UWM Chancellor Michael R. Lovell, who noted that the U.S. has a great need for graduates in the STEM fields, and that universities need to encourage and nurture more students to explore careers in these areas. “If we just wait for students to appear, we are never going to have enough students in the pipeline.”
“This will be a place of STEM innovation for the STEM pipeline,” said Prince. “It will be a place for hands-on learning, tutoring and mentoring for high-school and undergraduate college students. These students will be taught by graduate STEM students and UWM STEM faculty. In turn, our undergraduate and graduate students will be mentored by faculty and researchers from the corporate community.”
For Tommy Lloyd, a first-year student in civil engineering, the boot camp was a chance to find out more about what researchers and engineers in the STEM fields actually do on the job.
“The STEM boot camp helped me find great opportunities at the entry level,” says Jason Martinez, an actuarial science major. “It’s generated a pathway to higher-level research.”