University of Wisconsin-Stout

Feb. 22, 2011

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, had more than kind words Tuesday for the Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center based at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Kind also presented a $168,000 check for the renewal of two grants from the U.S. Commerce Department. The grants will go to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program at UW-Stout, one of two MEPs in Wisconsin.

“The program sells itself,” Kind said of the NWMOC and MEP. “I hear nothing but praise for UW-Stout’s programs.”

The objective of National Institute of Standards and Technology's MEP program is to enhance productivity and technological performance and strengthen the global competitiveness of small- and medium-size U.S.-based manufacturing firms.

Last fiscal year, NWMOC provided technical assistance to 122 firms. In fiscal year 2009-10, client-reported impacts exceeded $26 million. Since 1994, NWMOC has provided assistance on nearly 4,000 projects totaling $450 million. For more on the NWMOC, go to

Kind visited UW-Stout’s Plastics Engineering Outreach Center, which is part of the MEP and NWMOC. The plastics center, for example, is involved with 65 industry projects, according to Jerry Wickman, an engineering and technology professor who briefed Kind.

“Working with businesses large and small is what we need to do to grow the economy,” Kind said. “We’re trying to protect vital funds (in Washington) so the work being done at Stout will continue.”

Julie Furst-Bowe, UW-Stout provost, said federal support is crucial to the success of the NWMOC and UW-Stout’s Discovery Center, which works with the NWMOC to coordinate business and industry-related projects across disciplines on campus.

“We have done very well in raising private money for the Discovery Center, but we wouldn’t be able to operate as well as we do without the federal support we get from the U.S. Department of Commerce and other agencies. Our congressional delegation, including Rep. Kind, deserves our thanks for that,” Furst-Bowe said.

Kind also visited with a group of plastics engineering majors in the lab and spoke to a class on campus.

UW-Stout, Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, offers an undergraduate degree in plastics engineering, the only one available in the UW System.