— In addition to fighting COVID-19 on campus through rigorous testing, UW-Madison is also making leaps and bounds in contributing to research in partnership with UW-Milwaukee.

Currently, UW-Madison’s College of Engineering and the Wisconsin Energy Institute have sent a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and deploy connective energy systems. Partners include Milwaukee-based businesses such as A.O. Smith and We Energies.

“This could be the way that we power Milwaukee in the future,” UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank explained in a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce virtual event yesterday.

Blank discussed a new report that will be released on Thursday detailing UW-Madison’s economic impact on Wisconsin, which is estimated to be over $30 billion. As the university continues to experience cash flow issues, with $320 million lost over the course of the pandemic, Blank is assured that revenue will return.

“The pandemic has spotlighted the importance of having a major research institution in this state,” she said.

The university report and the MMAC discussion around public education come a week before Gov. Tony Evers unveils his state budget plan for 2021-23. As the state Legislature’s budget season begins, funding levels for the UW-System will once again be on the table.

— The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened an issue that had long been making trouble for state employers — a chronic workforce shortage, according to UW-Milwaukee’s chancellor.

And Chancellor Mark Mone believes his university is the solution.

“The talent pipeline … has been the most vexing issue in business,” he said. “We don’t have the right people, with the right skills, at the right time.”

UW-Milwaukee’s answer to the problem is aligning students with demand. Mone said that 80 percent of current graduates will be going into health care, business or technology fields. While funding for public education in Wisconsin dips below appropriations made in surrounding states, Mone believes a reinvestment needs to be made in the important work UW-Milwaukee is doing for the economy.

“Reinvestment is critical,” Mone concluded.