Thank you, Concordia University Wisconsin, for hosting us!

September 8th marked the third Quarterly Member Meeting of 2016! The focus of the meeting was to examine the water-based curriculum offerings of our academic partners. Concordia University Wisconsin was a fitting location to host this meeting, as it provided sweeping views of Lake Michigan from the windows of the campus’ Environmental Sustainability Center.

The main segment of the meeting consisted of a panel discussion moderated by Matthew Bednarski, PE, EMBA, ENV SP, GRAEF, and Co-Chair of The Water Council’s Talent Campaign. Panelists representing various academic and talent-related interests in the region included:

img_2140-1Each panelist took a moment to discuss the efforts and programs in place to address the talent needs of the region, specifically in the water industry. Peter Welch noted that Concordia is in the midst of a 10-15 year growth period that has seen a number of program expansions. The introduction of water health has been integral, enabling Concordia to lead the way and showcase how other smaller schools can add water research to their programs.

Denise Ehlen detailed how UW-Whitewater has several traditional academic programs that have successfully integrated water into their respective curricula, including bachelors of business and integrated science business majors with water emphasis. Outreach initiatives for career readiness include the College of Business and Economics’ Institute for Water Business’ focus on water-based businesses and water technology. UW-Whitewater emphasizes work-based learning experiences for students to gain real-world experience, and its design to be student outcome driven and integrate that into coursework, allowing students to apply what they learn.

Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), as noted by Dr. Bonaparte, has been involved in water education for many years, offering an associate degree in environmental health and water quality technology, the only program in the state. Additionally, MATC has technical technician and electronic technology automation associate degrees that have supplied highly qualified talent to area labs and engineering firms working in the water realm. A key point that came up was the fact that, despite the high-level of technical training being provided, and the quality of graduates coming out of the technical system, there is still an undersupply of talent being trained in these more technical fields. While this is a problem for area employers, as it speaks to the lack of trained talent, it has resulted in a 200% placement rate for students graduating from the technical college system, with many receiving at least two job offers prior to graduation.

Milwaukee 7, a regional economic development partnership, isn’t directly involved in water, but focuses on growth; being partners in growth for regional companies and to be a place where new companies will be attracted to locate due to the assets here and ability to expand. The biggest inhibitor to that growth, which came up in discussion previously, is talent. Talent has moved to the forefront of desirable factors for site selectors, when considering a region as a prospect. Susan Koehn emphasized the need to connect earlier to talent pipelines—the need to direct students to next generation manufacturing and water tech careers—and the desire for students that have the essential workplace skills: teamwork, reliability, communication, and a baseline of technical proficiency, and industry will handle the advanced technical training.

Some common themes that emerged during an impassioned discussion between attendees and the panelists included:

It has been just over a year since Matt Howard, Director, Alliance for Water Stewardship – North America (AWS-NA), began the implementation of the International Stewardship Standard across North America. Howard has worked to build awareness and drive implementation of the Standard in the United States and Canada, with notable progress since September 2015 including:

AWS-NA has formed several strategic partnerships, and has secured the Global Water Center and MillerCoors’ Milwaukee brewery to be early-adopters of the Standard in the Milwaukee-area. Coincidentally, speaking to the importance of nurturing talent, Howard introduced Dylan Waldhuetter, a Graduate Student at UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences and AWS-NA Intern, who is leading the implementation of the Standard in Milwaukee.

The Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO) for the City of Milwaukee introduced the concept of a “New Triple Bottom Line,” focusing around ECOlogy, ECOnomy, and ECOmmunity, with the ultimate goal of making Milwaukee a world-class Eco-city. In line with the city’s desire to be a Water-Centric City, three guiding principles were introduced:

The city plans to roll out its vision for Milwaukee as a water-centric city on October 26, 2016.

Elizabeth Thelen, Director of Entrepreneurship & Talent, The Water Council, closed the meeting by recognizing BREW coaches, preferred partners, and BREW Corporate Sponsors. Following an open-call for additional BREW Corporate sponsors, Thelen welcomed BREW 4 entrepreneurs to the front of the room to participate in what has quickly become a right of passage for all our water entrepreneurs: the initial Fall pitch to The Water Council’s Members. Each company was given 60 seconds to introduce their company, promote their technologies, and provide an ask to the audience. The purpose of this exercise is to show how the entrepreneurs will progress over the next year through the BREW Accelerator, eventually losing the prepared scripts, and effectively engaging the audience and selling their product. Stay tuned!

Important upcoming events that The Water Council will attend include:

Again, many thanks to Concordia University Wisconsin for hosting our Q3 Member Meeting. Mark your calendars for our Q4 Member Meeting, Tuesday, December 6, additional details to come.

Interested in joining The Water Council? Please contact Isaiah Perez, Member Services & Development Coordinator, at






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