TUE AM News: CDIS director says tech education can help address workforce issues; State sues Johnson Controls, Tyco over PFAS contamination

— The head of UW-Madison’s School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences says technology education can play a key role in addressing the state’s workforce issues. 

In a recent interview, CDIS founding director Tom Erickson highlighted related efforts ranging from providing more computer skills training for K-12 students to new master’s degree programs at the university. He also said the design process is underway for a new CDIS building being built in January 2023. 

“If you think about Boston, where I was for many, many years, or San Francisco, the Bay Area, or Austin, Texas, the universities have partnered with the states in a way to create these ecosystems of amazing development around technology,” he said. “It all starts with a place that people gather, and come back to and spread out from.” 

UW-Madison announced plans in September for the $225 million building, which Erickson sees as a major element of creating a regional “tech hub” centered around Madison. 

“We want this to be a physical hub where people can come from across the state and gather, and get involved in what’s happening, either as a student or an industry coming on board,” he said. 

Erickson said he spoke with Gov. Tony Evers in December about increasing computer science K-12 education in the state, noting that’s fundamental to improving the labor force outlook. He says the entire UW System has a role to play in encouraging earlier education in growing technology fields. 

He outlined an after-school program for fourth and fifth graders called Catapult, which stands for Computational Thinking, Programming, Logic and Technology. Undergraduate students at the university help out with initiative, which teaches computing concepts with a focus on creative applications. 

“It’s easily something that can be scaled across the state, so we actually have some of our industry partners looking and saying, ‘How can we help you scale this?’” he said. “We can easily do that in partnership with other UW schools and other campuses like Marquette.” 

Erickson also highlighted new professional master’s programs in data science and data engineering “in the hopper,” to be launched this fall if approved by the UW Board of Regents. He said they will be designed for students “from any background,” pointing to the growing role these disciplines play in marketing, manufacturing, supply chain logistics and more. 

“We’re going to be looking to add more of those over time,” he said. “So we’re trying to reach out to folks at both ends of the spectrum. We call this concept CDIS without borders. The borders of the campus, we extend beyond those borders — we’re really trying to bring everybody in.” 

Listen to a recent podcast with Erickson here: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/wisbusiness-the-podcast-with-tom-erickson-of-uw-madisons-school-of-computer-data-and-information-sciences/ 

See an earlier story on CDIS: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/head-of-new-uw-madison-school-looking-to-expand-industry-sponsored-research/ 

— Attorney General Josh Kaul has announced a lawsuit alleging Johnson Controls and Tyco Fire Products failed to address PFAS contamination issues after testing firefighting foam.

The Dem AG during a Green Bay press conference yesterday said the companies violated state spills law by failing to alert the Department of Natural Resources of PFAS contamination at and around the Fire Technology Center in Marinette since about 1962. The suit seeks to force the companies to complete a full investigation, cleanup effort, pay fines and repay at least some of the investigation costs.

Kaul said the pollution affects groundwater, drinking water, surface water, the air and the soil, harming the environment, residents and the economy.

“I’m hopeful that others who are polluting and are violating the laws see this and they realize that the Department of Justice is very serious about ensuring that our laws are enforced,” he said.

Kaul added the companies have taken steps to resolve the issue such as conducting a partial investigation of the spill, working with residents and communicating with DOJ and the DNR. “But we have reached a point in this process right now that we believe the path forward is through litigation,” he said.

Tyco Director of Environmental Communications Kathleen Cantillon told WisPolitics.com in an email the company will “vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

Cantillon added Tyco stands behind its work to investigate and clean up the contamination but is still working on new ways to address the issue. The company expects to complete by summer a new groundwater treatment system and is working to remove contaminated soil from Marinette.

“We continue to build on the progress we have made to address these issues in our community, including offering bottled water and in-home filtration systems several years ago to all households in the Town of Peshtigo whose private wells were potentially impacted by PFAS from the FTC,” she said.

See the DOJ press release:


— NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes has announced a supply agreement with Massachusetts-based Convergent Therapeutics supporting a new potential cancer therapy. 

As part of the agreement, the Beloit company will be providing a material called actinium-225 to Convergent Therapeutics for use in an antibody treatment that’s currently being developed to treat prostate cancer. Ac-225 can be used in targeted therapies to deliver radiation to cancer cells, a release from NorthStar shows. 

The company says research and clinical use of this material are “severely constrained by chronic short supply due to limitations of current production technology.” NorthStar aims to be the first commercial-scale producer of Ac-225 providing it for clinical research and commercial products. 

Stephen Merrick, president and CEO for NorthStar, says the design process for the company’s Ac-225 production facility is complete and he expects construction to begin soon. Initial production of this material is planned for late next year, and NorthStar will be submitting an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2024 to get clearance to provide the material. 

“Our companies share a vision of developing and delivering innovative technology to drive research and ensure clinical availability of targeted radiopharmaceutical therapies for patients with cancer,” Merrick said in the release. 

See the release: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220309005143/en/ 

— Promega and FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics have announced a partnership to develop new tests for drug discovery efforts. 

According to a release, the multi-year licensing agreement will integrate technologies from the two Madison-based companies for researchers and scientists to use in creating these tests. 

“Adding this robust assay technology from Promega to our cells creates a wealth of possibilities for discovery researchers around the world in their efforts to advance medicine,” said FCDI Senior VIP of Commercial Operations Keith Olson. 

Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

See more at Madison Startups: https://www.madisonstartups.com/promega-fcdi-to-collaborate/ 

— A Marquette University researcher is getting a $1.2 million grant to study treatment options for a neurological speech disorder in children. 

Dr. Jenya Iuzzini-Seigel, assistant professor of speech pathology and audiology in the university’s College of Health Sciences, will be comparing treatment schedules for a condition called child apraxia of speech. 

Children with this disorder struggle to make sounds correctly when speaking. While affected children know what they want to say, they have difficulty with the oral movements required to form words. A release from the university shows children with CAS often must go through years of treatment to develop clear speech. 

Iuzzini-Seigel’s study will focus on a motor-based speech treatment called dynamic temporal and tactile cueing, in which a therapist helps the child learn to pronounce specific words over time through observation and repetition. Over the two-year study, she will compare outcomes for the treatment being provided twice a week for 12 weeks compared to four times per week for six weeks. 

In the release, she points to the “strong need for research” in this field as few motor-based treatments for the condition exist. 

“There is a lack of sufficient evidence to guide decision-making regarding treatment distribution,” she said. “While it seems intuitive to predict that more frequent treatment would result in greater treatment gains than less frequent treatment, even at the same total dosage, empirical research is needed.” 

She will lead a randomized control trial with children between 30 months and seven years of age, with treatment being conducted by clinicians around the country. She’s the lead principal investigator on the project, and will be partnering with other experts in New York, Vermont, Australia and elsewhere. 

The grant comes from the Texas-based Once Upon a Time Foundation.

See the release: https://www.marquette.edu/news-center/2022/speech-pathology-professor-awarded-1-1-million-grant-to-investigate-treatments-for-childhood-apraxia-of-speech.php 

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— Engineering students at UW-River Falls are exploring methods to improve the efficiency of agricultural equipment in hopes of boosting small farms’ profits. 

With support from a $150,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture research grant, students Alex Pierson, Kyle Leis and Rames Frisch have developed two methods for improving the effectiveness of harvesting combines

One of the two methods involves a series of small brushes being added to part of the machine to push wheat grains toward the center of the collection area. And the other method involves adding a small piece of plastic sheeting to reduce the number of grains being lost. 

These designs are meant to be inexpensive and relatively easy to implement for smaller farms. Initial data suggest they both improve efficiency, but a release shows analysis is ongoing. The university says it will share findings with local farmers. 

The students worked on the designs alongside Bob Zeng, an assistant professor of agricultural engineering, and Youngmi Kim, associate professor in ag engineering.

“The students are redesigning old equipment to improve the productivity, efficiency, profitability and sustainability of small farms in support of local farming movement toward low carbon footprint circular food production systems,” Zeng said in the release. 

See more on the project: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/uw-river-falls-students-learn-teamwork-research-skills-to-make-older-combines-more-efficient-and-profitable-for-small-farms/ 

— DATCP has announced a case of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, has been identified in a commercial poultry flock in Jefferson County. 

According to a release, it’s the state’s first case of HPAI since 2015. While officials say it doesn’t pose an immediate public health concern, measures are being taken – including halting poultry products coming out of the flock. DATCP is working with the USDA to conduct additional surveillance and testing in the surrounding areas. 

HPAI viruses have been shown to be “highly contagious and often fatal” to poultry, and can be spread through contact with infected animals, as well as on the equipment and clothing of those working with them. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/dept-of-agriculture-trade-and-consumer-protection-highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-confirmed-in-jefferson-county-flock/ 


# Kaul sues Johnson Controls, Tyco over PFAS pollution


# Rising gas prices fueling frustration among rideshare and delivery drivers


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– Wisconsin has fewer dairy farms. So how are they producing more milk?


– Bird flu case found in southern Wisconsin chicken flock


– State Cherry Board holding at-large director elections



– OSHA cites Appleton roof contractor for fall hazards twice in six months


– Legendary Milwaukee philanthropist and entrepreneur Mike Cudahy dies at 97


– From machines to communities, Mike Cudahy strived to make things better: John Gurda


– Iconic Milwaukee entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Cudahy dies at 97


– State of Wisconsin is suing Johnson Controls, Tyco over PFAS contamination in Marinette


– Wisconsin DOJ sues Johnson Controls, Tyco for ‘forever chemicals’ violations


– Wisconsin companies, city of Madison join challenge to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030


– City looking to replenish funds used for brownfield cleanup



– As pandemic wanes, Evers thanks essential workers, health staff, National Guard


– She gave birth while she was in a coma with COVID-19. Today, she’s building a new life with her family.



– East side shop Table Wine moves into Sugar Shack space


– Hines takes over Milwaukee Housing Authority as it completes Westlawn, pauses Convent Hill tower


– Minnesota candy company purchases Stuffed Puffs factory in Delafield

– GRAEF acquires Florida engineering firm


– Eau Claire to address short-term rentals this year



– Molson Coors limits sales in Russia


– Employees take over majority ownership of Van Horn Automotive Group


– Three Near West Side BIPOC business owners get grants from Molson Coors


– Punch Bowl Social reopening in time for NCAA tournament games in Milwaukee


– Punch Bowl Social to reopen in Milwaukee in time for NCAA Tournament

– Fiserv Forum, Deer District welcoming Badgers, preps first NCAA tournament



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