WED AM News: UW-Stout adding cybersecurity program; Evers announces clean energy plan

— A newly approved cybersecurity program at UW-Stout aims to help meet rising demand for workers in this field. 

Enrollment is now open for the fall 2022 bachelor’s degree program, which was approved April 7 by the UW System Board of Regents. 

According to a release from the university, graduates will be prepared to: analyze complex computing problems and identify solutions; understand hardware, software and human elements of computing systems; incorporate legal and ethical principles in their work; and more.

Also, enrolled students will get opportunities to engage with industry partners and conduct research in subjects such as cloud computing and 5G networks, as well as industrial and health care applications. 

“Our B.S. cybersecurity program with hands-on training in a real-world cybersecurity laboratory setting will broaden students’ subject matter knowledge and skills needed for the growing cybersecurity job market,” Glendali Rodriguez, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a release. 

It’s being offered online or on-campus, a release from the university shows. About 150 students are expected to be enrolled in the on-campus program within four years, with “similar numbers” projected for the online program as well. UW-Stout also has a cybersecurity minor, as well as four related certificates and concentrations. 

The new program builds on the university’s existing Cybersecurity Research and Outreach Center, which was created in 2017. The university has also been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. It was the first four-year institution in the state to be designated as such, the release shows. 

According to a report from UW Extended Campus, national employment for information security analysts is projected to increase 33 percent by 2030 compared to 2020 figures. 

And in Wisconsin, employment among four cybersecurity-related positions is expected to rise by about 11.6 percent between 2019 and 2029 as demand for these workers continues to increase. Those positions include information security analysts, network and computer systems administrators, computer network architects, and computer and information system managers. 

See more details on the new program here: 

See the UW Extended Campus report: 

— Gov. Tony Evers has announced a plan aiming to lower energy prices, increase energy independence and create new jobs.

Some of the proposals include: creating an Equity First Program to ensure people disproportionately affected by climate change can benefit from clean energy; launching a pilot project to consult with tribal nations on clean energy issues; and expanding community solar power projects.

The guv in a statement announcing the plan with the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy said the plan would bring more money into the state to invest in clean energy.

“By expanding and speeding up production of cheaper, cleaner energy like wind and solar here in Wisconsin, we can keep our money here at home rather than relying on unpredictable markets often disrupted by foreign leaders and conflicts,” Evers said.

One of the goals under the plan is for the state to attain 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050.

The four major objectives in the plan include:

*Speeding up the implementation of clean energy technology;

*Increasing energy efficiency;

*Updating buildings and industry; and

*Supporting the switch to electric vehicles.

The plan also includes recommendations for clean energy workforce development.

The guv established the OSCE by executive order in 2019 and charged it with creating the plan. The OSCE estimates the plan would create more than 40,000 jobs by 2030.

Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy Director Maria Redmond told in an email there is no specific funding source planned for the project yet.

“The plan isn’t associated with a specific funding stream but instead lays out a series of strategies that can be addressed through legislation, administrative action, leveraging existing programs, and local government, energy sector, and stakeholder partnerships and actions,” she said.

Wisconsin Senate Republicans on Twitter called the plan “another hidden tax from Democrats,” referring to the potential costs or funding for the plan not specified in the report. They also compared the plan to the “Green New Deal” introduced by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

“With historic inflation, soaring gas prices, & employers still recovering from shutdowns, importing @AOC-style Green New Deal policies would take WI in the WRONG direction,” they said.

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, applauded Evers’ announcement.

“Today’s announcement of Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Plan is an important step forward in our efforts to curb climate change and reduce inequities in our communities,” Neubauer said.

Wisconsin Conservation Voters also voiced its support for the plan.

See Evers’ release:

See the Senate Republicans’ tweet:

See Neubauer’s release:

See the Wisconsin Conservation Voters release:

— Gundersen Health System says its Sparta clinic is saving $68,500 per year on utility costs through various sustainability efforts. 

According to a release from the La Crosse-based health system, the clinic was launched in 2017 with a goal of keeping energy usage low. Elements of the effort include on- and off-site solar panels, a geothermal heat system, “aggressive” HVAC scheduling and more. 

The release shows the clinic has lowered its energy usage index to below half the level of the average clinic in the region. 

Aside from supporting environmental goals, Recruitment Services Manager Heather Trimborn says the clinic’s reduced impact helps with bringing in employees. 

“Salary, benefits and healthcare are important, but working for an organization that values the environment and is reducing its carbon footprint is equally important,” she said in the release. 

See more on the health system’s sustainability efforts here: 

— USDA Rural Development State Director Julie Lassa highlighted federally funded infrastructure improvements during a recent stop in the village of Viola. 

According to a release from the agency, the village was awarded $2.3 million in funding last year through the USDA’s Water & Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program to enact a plan for water and wastewater system improvements laid out in 2020. That included installing a new well and water distribution lines in areas where flooding has led to residential and commercial development being relocated. 

Meanwhile, the area is improving sewer infrastructure to prevent backups through a $1 million block grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, per the release. And a $655,000 Community Facilities Disaster Grant is being paired with over $1 million in Tax Increment District funding to relocate roadway infrastructure. 

“USDA is making it a priority to improve the lives of rural residents by making funding opportunities more equitable, investing in climate-smart infrastructure, and building a better economy,” Lassa said in a statement. “Projects like the one we’re highlighting in Viola today are a great testament to these priorities and the positive impacts they have on our state’s rural communities.” 

See the release: 

— Wisconsin is in line for an additional $283 million in federal transportation aid in the current fiscal year.

The bulk of the additional money comes from the recently signed bipartisan infrastructure law. The Department of Transportation wants to put $123.6 million of it into the state highway rehabilitation program, according to a letter the agency sent to the Joint Finance Committee.

The letter noted an abundance of projects awaiting funding from the state’s main highway improvement program. That would make it easier to get the money obligated by Sept. 30. That’s the deadline for the state to allocate the bulk of the additional federal money. Otherwise, it would risk losing the funds, according to the letter.

The agency also wants to put $83.8 million into local transportation facility assistance and $60.7 million into local bridge assistance.

Under state law, the agency must submit a plan to the Joint Finance Committee for review anytime federal funds are 105 percent or more of what had been appropriated in a fiscal year. The extra $283 million is 35.2 percent above what the state had expected to receive from the feds.

The pot of additional money includes $55 million that the federal government redistributed after states that had received the funds failed to use it by a deadline.

The agency last week sent the committee a breakdown of the additional money and how it’s proposing to spend it. The committee co-chairs on Monday sent the agency an acknowledgement the proposal was complete. That kicked off a 14-day window for JFC to approve the plan or meet to modify it.

The infrastructure law was signed last fall with several resolutions approved earlier this year to allocate the money. DOT noted in its letter the state is still awaiting word on two smaller pots of money. But it wants Joint Finance to move forward on the plan now to avoid the risk of losing the funding if it’s not spent by the deadline.

See the DOT letter: 

— Wisconsin’s latest seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases is 647 cases per day, the Department of Health Services site shows. 

That’s about twice as many cases as the recent low of 316 cases per day on March 23. But the seven-day average remains relatively low compared to the surge that resulted in over 18,000 cases per day in late January. 

The latest figures come after a nationwide mask mandate on public transportation was lifted this week following a federal judge in Florida declaring it unlawful. Airports and transit officials in some of the state’s largest cities have announced they will no longer require masks following the judge’s ruling. 

COVID-19 community levels — used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine masking guidance — remain in the “low” category across the entire state, the DHS site shows. 

Meanwhile, the percent positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in the state is inching upward, reaching 6 percent most recently. That’s above the recent low of 2.7 percent on March 20, but also remains well below January’s peak of 29.4 percent. 

The trajectory for COVID-19 hospitalizations varies by region in Wisconsin. Between March 30 and April 12, hospitalizations in the Fox Valley region were growing by 139 percent. But at the same time, hospitalizations in northwest and southeast regions were declining by 24 and 18 percent, respectively. 

See the latest case numbers here: 

Track hospital trends here: 

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– Pre-spring conditions linger as farmers await planting season

– UW-Madison moves forward with overhaul of Farm and Industry Short Course


– WBW holding Kwik Trip Innovation Contest for students


– Now’s the time to treat valuable ash trees against EAB

– ‘No Mow May’ bee boosting initiative growing in Wisconsin

– Rhodes-Conway, alder propose resolution to treat PFAS on Madison’s east side

– Mississippi Valley Conservancy adds to growing corridor of protected land


– COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Wisconsin

– Rock County seeks public input on how to spend $8 million from opioid lawsuit settlement

– Doctors worry about COVID comeback as Austin Straubel, Green Bay Metro drop mask mandates


– SHINE Technologies names new female board members with public company experience


– See the latest assessments of downtown Milwaukee’s major offices, hotels: Slideshow


– Brewers, Bucks, Admirals and Packers partnership with Special Olympics Wisconsin includes a $16M goal


– Though buying habits have changed, Milwaukee Film Festival hopeful for 2022. There’s one big reason why.

– Midwest Horse Fair returns this weekend for the first time since 2019 — and so will the traffic


– Wisconsin cities, airports lift mask requirements on transit following federal order

– Masks now optional on Madison Metro buses after federal rule struck down

– ‘Relief,’ caution for travelers as Appleton airport, Valley Transit lift mask mandate

– Western Wisconsin airports, bus services go mask-optional in wake of federal ruling


– Gov. Tony Evers says clean energy investments can create jobs, lower bills


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