H20ptions: Project to receive $500,000 NSF grant


Andy Larsen, Boelter + Lincoln PR

414/271-0101 x119 (o); 414/840-0891 (m)

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Water technology education and career initiative spearheaded by education and industry consortium

MILWAUKEE (September 19, 2011) – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a nearly half-million dollar grant, or $498,216, to the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), the Milwaukee Water Council and a consortium of regional colleges and universities for the H2Options project, which aims to promote water technology education and career opportunities in southeastern Wisconsin. Additional partners in the H20ptions project include the Milwaukee region’s technical colleges, as well as UW-Milwaukee and STEM Forward.

The H2Options project seeks to modify and develop new associate degree and technical certificate water technology programs, and establish high school and university articulation agreements as part of a water technology career pathway. This project will result in the training of new water industry technicians to meet the growing workforce demands of the water industry in southeastern Wisconsin. The project has four goals:

Goal 1: Development of Water Technology Career Pathways

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has published Career Clusters and Pathways guidelines that will be used in developing water technology career pathways. The H2Options project will be a collaborative effort involving high school districts in southeastern Wisconsin, the technical college partners, four-year colleges and universities, workforce development agencies, the Milwaukee Water Council, and other organizations aimed achieving these career guidelines.

Goal 2: Development of Associate Degree Programs and Certificates

To meet the talent demands of the water industry, the grant will assist with the development of several new associate degree programs and technical certificates relevant to water industries with curriculum focused on civil engineering, environmental science, water chemistry, wastewater treatment, water/wastewater process control. In addition, articulation agreements will continue to be formulated between associate degree and baccalaureate degree programs that will assist students to be prepared to enter the water industry workforce.

Goal 3: Student Recruitment and Marketing

A student marketing, recruitment, and retention plan will be developed that will focus on serving a diverse population of individuals. The H2Options project coordinator will work with the technical colleges, regional workforce development, and employment and training organizations to design a client marketing and referral plan. Technical college admissions and recruitment staff will participate in the creation of regional marketing strategies to promote water technology career opportunities and the benefit of earning certificates and associate degrees in water-related areas.

Goal 4: Internships, Service Learning, and Mentoring

Working closely with Water Council members and academic institutions, the project will continue to develop water-related internships and service learning opportunities for students, as well as link students and mentors in the water industry and sciences.


The Milwaukee Water Council works to align the regional fresh water research community and water-related industries to establish the Milwaukee region as the World Water Hub for research, education and economic development. For more information, visit http://www.thewatercouncil.com .