For 10 years, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students have powered a regional manufacturing index.
The Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance has partnered with UWO’s Center for Customized Research and Services (CCRS) to produce the unique index that measures the health of the region’s manufacturing sector.
The most recent results were shared at a press conference on campus Dec. 4.
“The CCRS engages UWO students in our survey center to gather data, which is then prepared by CCRS staff for the index,” said UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt. “This is a great example of the kinds of real-world experiential learning projects we offer students.”
Kathryn Kaufman, a senior anthropology major from Winneconne, helped gather data for the index by conducting telephone surveys of leaders of regional manufacturing companies with $3 million or more in sales and at least 25 employees.
“We have to write down their answers verbatim to make sure we are capturing their whole perspective,” Kaufman said. “The experience was an awesome challenge. I gained a lot of communication skills and patience with calling and waiting to get in touch with people. Everyone I communicated with was always super enthusiastic to help.”
The survey results show that the manufacturing community is healthy. However, manufacturers are concerned about workforce shortages that could impact the region in the next year or two.
“UW Oshkosh is a talent producer,” Leavitt said. “UWO serves many of the specific talent needs indentified in the index. We help teach, train and transform students into the engineers and information technology professions the region needs. We also provide the critical communications, mathematics and problem-solving skills that companies highly value.”