University of Wisconsin-Stout

July 13, 2011

Even though the unemployment rate for recent military veterans is more than two percentage points above the national average, Gary Gilles managed to land his dream job right after graduating from University of Wisconsin-Stout.

The Chippewa Falls native graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in sustainable management from UW-Stout. He quickly turned his senior project into a full-time position as an energy analyst with GDS Associates in support of Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program.

Gilles served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He earned an associate degree in electrical engineering technology in 2005 and was among the first to sign up for a new online Sustainable Management degree being offered by UW-Stout and three other UW campuses in cooperation with UW-Extension Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning. The collaborative degree program was approved by the UW System Board of Regents in May 2009.

“It had always been my goal to complete my bachelor’s degree, but I could never find the right degree program or the time,” Gilles said. “But sustainability is my passion, and with a lot of family support and the convenience of an online degree program, I persevered.”

Gilles found his opportunity in the final course in the sustainable management curriculum: a project in which students apply their knowledge to an industry-specific challenge. Gilles worked with GDS Associates, a consulting and engineering firm that employs 170 people in five locations across the country. His project centered on energy efficiency and renewable energy on dairy farms.

“Wisconsin is known for its dairy industry. If Wisconsin dairy farms can compete more successfully with innovations in energy efficiency and renewable energy, the well-being of all our residents is improved,” said Gilles. “I’m grateful for my new career, which gives me not only opportunities to advance but is also one which I truly enjoy.”

“This program is a natural fit in a number of ways for UW-Stout,” said Julie Furst-Bowe, provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. “It is in a cutting-edge, high-demand field, and students use a broad array of technology to complete their degrees.”

“We are very pleased to see the first graduates from this program moving into jobs,” said David Schejbal, dean of Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning. “We have a tremendous talent pool among Wisconsin adults who began college sometime in the past but never finished, and they make excellent returning students who work hard and know what they want.”

The Bachelor of Science in sustainable management is one of several online degree completion programs that UW-Extension Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning has developed in partnership with UW campuses to increase the number of Wisconsin degree holders.

For more information about the sustainable management program at UW-Stout, visit http://www.uwstout.edu/programs/bssmo/ or http://sustain.wisconsin.edu/.